Visitors tend to the think of the desert as a harsh, unforgiving place. Others simply come to Phoenix for the golf and resort swimming pools. But none of that accurately depicts the Sonoran Desert’s place in America.
The sun is shining nearly every day, and the temperatures most certainly shoot into triple digits several months of the year. But the feel of a nature walk in the foothills in March or October, or a day or two after a monsoon rain, gives you a much better sense of the landscape. One glimpse at a hillside of blooming saguaro cacti and it seems like a different planet, far removed from the faceless commercial developments and cookie cutter homes that clutter so much of the New West.
Hiking in Arizona is unlike hiking anywhere else in the world. This is the Grand Canyon State. And while that massive chasm in northern Arizona is the greatest outdoor experience in the state, the Valley is scattered with parks and preserves that will help you refocus your own personal energy in a natural setting just miles from the city. You won’t have to go far to reconnect with nature. Tarantulas, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcat, rattlesnakes, and Gila monsters are among the creatures that call these parks home.
The city has plenty to offer, but so does the desert. Keep in mind that the patch of sand outside your hotel doesn’t count. In any direction, about 20 or 30 minutes out of downtown Phoenix or Scottsdale, you will find your path and agree there’s something soothing about this arid climate.