Sunshine and Adventure: Outdoor Activities in Phoenix

For outdoor lovers and adventurers, Phoenix isn't just a city; it's a sprawling canvas of natural wonder waiting to be explored. With the sun as its perennial companion, Phoenix offers an array of outdoor activities that cater to all skill levels and interests. Whether you're a local looking to rediscover the city's gems or a traveler seeking a dose of Arizona's famed wilderness, Phoenix‘s outdoor scene has something for you. From rugged desert trails and tranquil botanical gardens to water adventures and top-notch golf courses, your outdoor agenda is about to get a whole lot sunnier. Lace up your hiking boots, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to soak up the best that Phoenix's great outdoors has to offer.

Hiking Trails 

Phoenix boasts some of the most breathtaking and diverse hiking trails in the Southwestern United States. The unique topography of the region includes everything from desert landscapes and saguaro cacti to cool mountain streams and shaded canyons. 

Heading out onto the trails calls for some preparation. Arizona's sun can be unforgiving, so stay hydrated and protected. Here are some trails that are sure to pique your interest:

Echo Canyon and Cholla Trails at Camelback Mountain

One of the more challenging hikes, Camelback Mountain's two trails offer panoramic views of Phoenix. With steep ascents and large boulder scrambling, only experienced hikers should attempt this.

South Mountain Park and Preserve

This network of trails within one of the world's largest city parks is perfect for families and beginners. Try the popular Mormon Loop and National trails for a moderate hike.

Piestewa Peak Summit Trail

Another popular and challenging climb, this trail, formerly known as Squaw Peak, offers a heart-pounding ascent and a rewarding view from the summit.

Each of these trails has different peak usage times. Remember, the desert wildlife is as varied as the landscapes. Keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, and be sure to carry plenty of water at all times.

Desert Botanical Garden

If you prefer the allure of the desert's flora without the exertion of a hike, the Desert Botanical Garden is a must-see.  

The Garden's mission is to exhibit and conserve the unique and rare plant life of the desert. You'll find a rich tapestry of cacti, agave, and other desert-adapted flora.  

Papago Park, adjacent to the Garden, offers trails that are as diverse as the Garden itself. From the Palo Verde trail with its sweeping desert vistas to the Hole-in-the-Rock formation offering views of the Garden and Phoenix skyline, Papago invites exploration.

Throughout the year, the Garden hosts several events, such as the Spring Butterfly Exhibit and Luminaria, which transforms the desert beside the Garden into a glittering holiday wonderland.  

Visitors can also attend a variety of classes and workshops on photography, gardening, and cooking, all showcasing the beauty and utility of desert plants. 

Water Activities

Phoenix may be part of the Sonoran Desert, but that doesn't mean there aren't opportunities to cool off and have fun with water sports. 

One beloved activity is tubing down the Salt River. There's nothing quite like floating on an inner tube, easing your way through the river. Each year, thousands flock to Phoenix for the famous Salt River Tubing experience, complete with rented tubes and shuttles to the best starting points.

For those who crave adventure and calm waters, Lake Pleasant and Saguaro Lake offer boat tours, kayak and paddleboard rentals and more. Take a leisurely paddle among the cacti or rev up the engine for some waterskiing.

The water options are as varied as they are refreshing. Before you go, check seasonal conditions, especially during monsoon season which can cause rapid changes in water levels and flow speeds.


Phoenix's year-round sun and stunning natural backdrops create a golfer's paradise. The city and its suburbs are home to over 200 golf courses, each offering its own challenge and all set within nature's most impeccable designs. 

For those looking to tee off against a scenic desert landscape, Troon North Golf Club is a prime choice. Renowned for its two golf courses - the Monument and the Pinnacle - this club is consistently ranked at the top of Arizona's best.

If you're after a championship experience with luxurious touches, spend a day at the TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course. This links-style course is a favorite among the pros, and its iconic 16th hole is host to the annual Phoenix Open, one of the PGA Tour's most popular events.

With world-class courses designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, and David Graham, the only challenge left is choosing which one to play. 

Biking Trails

With over 360 days of sunshine and a myriad of bike-friendly trails, Phoenix is a cyclist's dream. 

The Arizona Canal Trail offers a 35-mile route stretching across the northern part of the city. This is an excellent trail for road cyclists who want to explore without the interference of traffic.

Mountain bikers can explore the intense trails of the McDowell Mountains. The Pemberton Trail is a favorite among locals for its challenging yet beautiful 15.3-mile loop that winds through scenic desert terrain. 

For something a bit more relaxed, try the family-friendly RJ’s Trailhead Loop in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. This 3.2-mile route is smooth and inviting, allowing you to enjoy the stunning desert views without the need for an intense skillset.

Hot Air Ballooning

For the bold adventurer seeking a unique perspective, the expansive skies over Phoenix offer the perfect canvas for hot air ballooning. 

Drift peacefully above the Sonoran Desert, feeling the rush of the flame heating the air inside your colorful balloon. 

Different companies offer a variety of ballooning experiences, some following up with champagne to celebrate your serene flight. Morning hours offer the calmest winds, making it the ideal time for a hot air balloon ride.

Keep in mind, the exhilarating experience of a hot air balloon ride is unparalleled, but also quite weather-dependent. Flights might be canceled during thunderstorms or high winds. 

Rock Climbing

Phoenix's mountainous terrain provides numerous opportunities for rock climbing enthusiasts. 

Camelback Mountain is not just a hiking favorite; it's also a well-known spot for climbings with routes catering to various skill levels. The red sandstone slopes of the mountain offer both traditional and sport climbing options.

Pinnacle Peak also provides a compelling climb with its granite formations. It's a bit less crowded than Camelback Mountain, making it ideal for those seeking a quieter climbing experience. 

For beginners, indoor climbing gyms such as Phoenix Rock Gym offer classes and regular events to help you learn the ropes before you tackle the real thing. 

Before you ascend, ensure you have the right permits or access information for climbing areas. Proper gear and safety precautions are an absolute must.

 Book your Phoenix Vacation Rental for your next Outdoor Adventure

Phoenix's allure for outdoor enthusiasts is as abundant as the sunshine that graces it. The variety of adventures awaiting you—whether you're up for a heart-pounding hike, or a leisurely round of golf in the desert breeze—promises a memorable experience. The city's proximity to some of nature's most impressive wonders is just an added bonus. 

Remember to respect the delicate balance of the desert ecosystem, and always prepare for the weather when venturing into the wild. With detailed navigation of some of the area's premier activities and safety precautions in mind, you're ready to make the most of your outdoor excursion in Phoenix. 

Pack your bags, plan your trip, book your Phoenix vacation rental, and get ready to immerse yourself in the abundance of outdoor delights that Phoenix has to offer. The desert is calling, and your adventure awaits.