With the Sonoran Desert right at your doorstep and more than 300 days of sunshine each year on average, there are many outdoor things to do in Phoenix, Arizona. Here are some of the most popular outdoor activities in the area.
Hiking and Mountain Biking
Many residents head out to the Superstition Mountains for a day of hiking. Located east of the city, its rugged landscape features volcanic peaks and boulder-strewn canyons. Encompassing more than 160,200 acres of protected land, the volcanic mountain range offers roughly 140 miles of marked and developed trails and about 100 miles of unmarked trails for more experienced hikers.
Steeped in myth and history, the mountains are purportedly home to the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine. However, there are many extravagances to enjoy in the area, such as two Nicklaus-designed golf courses.
Another outdoor attraction worth visiting is the Coconino National Forest, located approximately 100 miles north of Phoenix. Here you’ll find nature trails that meander through red rocks and towering ponderosa pines. Come here for a wonderful day of hiking, horseback riding, and sightseeing.
Located near downtown Phoenix, Camelback Mountain is a local landmark. The granite and sandstone ridge is a renowned hiking spot that offers sweeping views of the city skyline. It’s a steep hike on uneven ground with a marked trail surrounded by pincushion cacti, jumping cholla, and other desert plants.
There are also countless mountain biking trails throughout the metro area. The Sonoran Desert Mountain Bike Trail is quite scenic. There is also Hawes Loop and Gold Canyon for your next biking adventure.
Walking and Nature Viewing
Spanning over 140 acres, the Desert Botanical Garden is home to about 50,000 desert plants, including rare and endangered plant species. Go on a tour and explore the trails to view various species of cacti, succulents, herbs, and flowering plants. The Cohan Family Butterfly Pavilion is a 3,200-square-foot area with a nursery, water feature, and colorful butterflies. Click here for a list of tours, discovery stations, and activities.
Kayaking and Wildlife Viewing
The Tonto National Forest encompasses over 600,00 acres outside of Phoenix. It is home to the Lower Salt River, which is a popular kayaking spot with a pristine shoreline, cool waters, and gorgeous coves. The national forest is also home to deer and wild horses as well as bald eagles, blue heron, and osprey.
Exploring Culture and History
Visit the Hohokam temple mounds at the Mesa Grande Cultural Park (which reopened in 2021) and S’edav Va’aki Museum (formerly the Pueblo Grande Museum Archaeological Park). The mounds date back to about 1100 AD. Go on a tour of these archaeological sites and learn about the legacy of the Hohokam, a prehistoric civilization known for its engineered canals and sophisticated irrigation system. The two museums also offer crafts and activities for visitors to enjoy.