The Best Adventures In The Arizona Desert

Phoenix, Arizona is an adventurer’s paradise, offering endless opportunities for outdoor activities that will keep your heart pumping and your adrenaline racing. From hiking and rock climbing to kayaking and hot air ballooning, there’s no shortage of outdoor adventures to be had in Phoenix. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best outdoor adventures in Phoenix, including going further afield to the famous Wave Arizona.

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Hiking- Camelback Mountain & Piestewa Peak

Camelback mountain

Photo by Walter Martin on Unsplash

Phoenix is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the country, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and desert landscapes. One of the most popular trails is Camelback Mountain, which is known for its challenging climb and breathtaking views from the summit.

Piestewa peak Pheonix

Photo by Kyle Kempt on Unsplash

If you’re looking for something a little easier, the Piestewa Peak Summit Trail is a great option, with a well-maintained path and panoramic views of the valley.

Pinnacle Peak

Pinnacle Peak

Photo by Tyrel Johnson on Unsplash

Pinnacle Peak is located in Scottsdale, Arizona, which is approximately 20 miles northeast of downtown Phoenix. The drive from Phoenix to Pinnacle Peak typically takes around 30 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. Hiking Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdale is a popular outdoor activity that covers approximately 3.5 miles round trip and has an elevation gain of around 1,300 feet. The trail is well-marked and maintained, and it typically takes hikers between 1.5 to 2 hours to complete, depending on their fitness level.

The hike is considered moderate and involves rocky terrain and a gradual incline, so it’s important to wear proper hiking shoes and bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Along the trail, hikers will encounter various desert vegetation such as cacti and wildlife such as quail, rabbits, and lizards.

At the summit, hikers are rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the city of Scottsdale. However, due to its popularity, the trail can get crowded, especially during peak season, and parking can be challenging. Therefore, it’s recommended to arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds and secure a parking spot.

Rock Climbing

Rock climbing

Photo by Sean Benesh on Unsplash

For those looking for a more challenging adventure, Phoenix has plenty of rock climbing opportunities. The McDowell Mountains offer some of the best rock climbing in the state, with a variety of routes for climbers of all skill levels. The area is also home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the state, with sweeping vistas of the Sonoran Desert.


Kayaking Pheonix

Photo by isobel slater on Unsplash

If you’re looking for a more water-based adventure, Phoenix has plenty of opportunities for kayaking and canoeing. The Salt River is a popular destination for water-based activities, with beautiful scenery and calm waters for beginners. If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, the Verde River offers more challenging rapids for experienced kayakers. If you want a bit more of a chilled out experience on the water, try out Tubing found right here on the Tripio app.

Hot Air Ballooning

Hot Air Balloon Pheonix

Photo by Susan Weber on Unsplash

For a more relaxing adventure, hot air ballooning is a great option. Phoenix offers some of the best hot air ballooning experiences in the country, with stunning views of the desert and mountains from above. There are several companies that offer hot air balloon rides in the area, with options for sunrise and sunset flights.

ATV Adventures & Off Roading

ATVs Pheonix

Photo by Andrew Stapleton on Unsplash

ATVing around the deserts of Phoenix can be an exciting and exhilarating experience for those who enjoy off-road adventures. Phoenix is located in the Sonoran Desert, which is known for its unique flora and fauna, and it provides a stunning backdrop for an ATV adventure.

There are several ATV rental companies in Phoenix that offer guided tours of the desert, ranging from a few hours to a full day. These tours typically include a safety briefing, instruction on how to operate the ATV, and a guide who leads the group through the desert.

During the tour, riders can expect to encounter a variety of terrains, including sandy washes, rocky hills, and desert trails. They may also have the opportunity to see desert wildlife such as coyotes, javelina, and rattlesnakes.

One popular destination for ATV tours in Phoenix is the Tonto National Forest, which covers more than 2.8 million acres and is the fifth largest forest in the United States. The forest offers a variety of trails for ATVing, including the Bulldog Canyon Trail and the Rolls OHV Area.

Cave Exploration

The Lava River Cave is a natural cave located in Northern Arizona, USA, and it’s part of the Coconino National Forest. The cave was formed around 700,000 years ago by molten lava flowing from a volcanic vent and then solidifying on the surface while the lava continued to flow through underneath, creating a lava tube.

Exploring the Lava River Cave can be an exciting adventure for those who are interested in geology and outdoor activities. The cave is approximately 1 mile long and has an uneven terrain, so it’s recommended to wear sturdy shoes and bring a flashlight. It’s also important to note that the cave can be cold, dark, and damp, so proper clothing is necessary.

Visitors can explore the cave on their own, but it’s recommended to bring a map and compass, as it’s easy to get lost inside. There are also guided tours available that offer a more educational and informative experience. Additionally, visitors should be aware that the cave is home to several bat species, which are protected by law, so it’s important to avoid disturbing them.

Cathedral Rock

Cathedral rock Arizona

Photo by Brock Koch Nichol on Unsplash

Cathedral Rock is a natural sandstone formation located in Sedona, Arizona, USA. It’s a great destination for a day trip from Phoenix, offering a unique outdoor experience for visitors of all ages and interests.

Part of the Coconino National Forest, Cathedral Rock stands approximately 500 feet tall and is known for its distinctive shape, which resembles a cathedral. The formation is made up of red sandstone that has been eroded by wind and water over millions of years, resulting in a stunning landscape of red rocks and lush vegetation.

One of the most popular activities for visitors is hiking to Cathedral Rock. There are several trails that lead to the formation, ranging in difficulty from easy to strenuous. The Cathedral Rock Trail, a 1.2-mile round trip hike, offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and is a must-do for hikers of all skill levels.

Aside from hiking, visitors can also enjoy other outdoor activities in the area, such as rock climbing, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Cathedral Rock is also a popular spot for photography, especially during sunrise and sunset when the rock formation is bathed in warm light.

Subway Cave

Subway cave

Photo by Vasilis Karkalas on Unsplash

The Subway Cave located in Sedona, Arizona is a lava tube that can be accessed via a spur trail off of Forest Road 525C, near the Boynton Pass area. The cave is approximately 1/3 mile in length and was formed thousands of years ago by volcanic activity.

Visitors to the Subway Cave can explore its winding passages and unique geology, created by the lava flow. However, it’s important to note that the cave can be slippery and dark, so visitors should come prepared with appropriate footwear and lighting, and exercise caution while exploring.

To help preserve the natural environment, visitors are advised to avoid touching or disturbing the cave’s features and wildlife.

The Subway Cave is a fascinating destination for those interested in exploring the geological formations of Sedona. It offers a unique opportunity to explore an underground lava tube and experience the beauty of the area’s natural landscape.

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

Photo by Dani García on Unsplash

Antelope Canyon, located in Northern Arizona, is a breathtaking natural wonder that attracts visitors from around the world. The canyon is divided into two sections: the Upper Antelope Canyon and the Lower Antelope Canyon, both of which offer stunning views of the wave-like sandstone formations that have been sculpted by wind and water over time.

To reach Antelope Canyon from Phoenix, visitors will need to drive approximately 280 miles (450 kilometers) northeast. The journey takes around 4.5 to 5 hours each way, depending on traffic and road conditions.

Once you arrive in Page, Arizona, you can take a guided tour to explore the canyon. The guided tours last anywhere from one to two hours, giving visitors ample time to marvel at the natural beauty of the canyon and capture its incredible formations on camera.

It’s important to note that the canyon can be crowded, so visitors should book their tours in advance and consider visiting during off-peak seasons to avoid the crowds. Additionally, visitors should be prepared for some walking and climbing, as the canyon can be uneven and narrow in some areas.

The Wave

The Wave Arizona

Photo by Gert Boers on Unsplash

Now let’s talk about one of the most unique outdoor adventures in Arizona – The Wave Arizona. Located in the Coyote Buttes North area of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, The Wave is a sandstone rock formation that looks like a wave frozen in time. The Wave is a popular destination for photographers, hikers, and adventurers, and is considered one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world.

While The Wave is not located directly in Phoenix, it is definitely worth the drive. The Wave is located about 5 hours from Phoenix, near the border of Utah and Arizona. To visit The Wave, you must obtain a permit, as only a limited number of visitors are allowed each day to preserve the fragile environment. Permits can be obtained through an online lottery system, with a limited number of walk-in permits available each day.

Once you have your permit, you can make the hike to The Wave. The hike is about 3 miles round-trip, and is considered moderately difficult. The terrain is rocky and uneven, so proper hiking shoes are a must. The Wave itself is a sight to behold, with swirling patterns of sandstone that seem to move and change with the light.

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe bend Arizona

Photo by Florian Wehde on Unsplash

Horseshoe Bend is a popular tourist attraction located near Page, Arizona, approximately 280 miles (450 kilometers) northeast of Phoenix. The bend is a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River that has been carved out over time by the forces of erosion.

To reach Horseshoe Bend from Phoenix, visitors will need to drive northeast on Interstate 17 for approximately 145 miles (233 kilometers) to Flagstaff, and then take U.S. Route 89 north for another 135 miles (217 kilometers) to Page, Arizona. The drive takes around 4.5 to 5 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.

Once you arrive at Horseshoe Bend, you can take a short hike from the parking area to the overlook, which offers stunning views of the bend and the surrounding cliffs. The overlook is situated 1,000 feet (305 meters) above the river and is a popular spot for photography and sightseeing.

It’s important to note that the hike to the overlook is approximately 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometers) round-trip and includes some uneven terrain, so visitors should wear appropriate footwear and exercise caution. Additionally, due to its popularity, Horseshoe Bend can get quite crowded, especially during peak seasons, so visitors should plan accordingly. Of course, even though its not in Pheonix, it is beyond and in Arizona. The star of Arizona, The Grand Canyon!

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Photo by Sonaal Bangera on Unsplash

The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic natural wonders in the world and is located in Northern Arizona, approximately 230 miles (370 kilometers) northwest of Phoenix. The canyon is a massive gorge carved out by the Colorado River over millions of years, stretching over 277 miles (446 kilometers) long and up to 18 miles (29 kilometers) wide.

To reach the Grand Canyon from Phoenix, visitors can take Interstate 17 north for approximately 145 miles (233 kilometers) to Flagstaff, and then take U.S. Route 180 northwest for another 80 miles (129 kilometers) to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The drive takes around 3.5 to 4 hours each way, depending on traffic and road conditions.

Once you arrive at the Grand Canyon, you can explore the numerous lookout points, take a hike along one of the many trails, or even go on a guided tour to learn more about the history and geology of the canyon. Some popular activities at the Grand Canyon include hiking, camping, and whitewater rafting.

It’s important to note that the Grand Canyon can get quite crowded, especially during peak seasons, so visitors should plan accordingly and book their accommodations and activities well in advance. Additionally, visitors should exercise caution when exploring the canyon, as the terrain can be rugged and challenging in some areas.

Phoenix, Arizona offers some of the best outdoor adventures in the country, from hiking and rock climbing to kayaking and hot air ballooning. And while The Wave, Grand Canyon and others may be a bit of a drive from Phoenix, it is definitely worth the trip for those seeking a truly unique and awe-inspiring adventure. So if you’re looking for your next outdoor adventure, head to Phoenix, Arizona and explore all that this beautiful state has to offer. Download the Tripio App now and start planning your perfect vacation. Start adding these awesome outdoor adventures to your custom itinerary today.

Interested in more of the United States, check out: The Best Adventures In Lake Tahoe


-Calvin, Tripio Guru

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