With a desert climate and average summer temperatures well in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, Phoenix, Arizona, can sometimes make even the most hardcore outdoors enthusiasts want to spend a little time indoors. But with a little effort, you can find fun and safe ways to get some exercise and sunshine while avoiding the heat. From rafting to rock climbing, these are some of the best outdoor activities in the Phoenix area.
The city is easily accessible from major U.S. airports and there are plenty of hotel accommodations in Phoenix to choose from. Determine the outdoor activities on your list and choose a Phoenix hotel close by. Make sure to get outdoors during your trip and try a couple of these great activities.
Hike or Bike at McDowell Mountain
Image via Flickr by HockeyholicAZ
See deer and coyotes while hiking or mountain biking on the trails at McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Fountain Hills. There’s a 15-mile horseback riding trail and a campground with 76 tent and RV sites. McDowell is a terrific place to get some exercise — just be sure to arrive early! The park opens at 6 a.m. so that visitors can get their fill of nature before the midday heat sets in.
Take a Balloon or Helicopter Ride
For a day of relaxation in the sun, soar over the mountains with a hot air balloon ride. At least six companies offer balloon trips in the Phoenix area, so you have plenty of different options for taking in the beautiful desert scenery from above. To crank up the intensity just a bit, consider one of the multiple helicopter companies that provide tours of the desert and Grand Canyon National Park.
Go Whitewater Rafting on the River
You may not picture Phoenix as a hotbed for whitewater rafting, but in the spring, when the snow melts in the White Mountains a couple hours east of the city, the Salt River becomes the best place for aquatic adventure in Arizona. Beginners beware — these are intense rapids that require expertise and experience. Newcomers should take a private tour with one of the guided rafting companies in the region.
Climb Camelback Mountain
How many cities have great rock climbing just 20 minutes from downtown? Camelback Mountain in Echo Canyon Recreation Area has a few dozen solid climbing routes and some smaller bouldering options as well. If you’re not a climber, you’ll find plenty of good hiking trails here. Not surprisingly, due to its location, this is a very popular outdoor destination, so get here early to avoid finding a full parking lot.
Cool Off at the Waterpark
Sometimes you want to bypass the strenuous workout and cool down at the pool. For family fun during the sultry days of summer, check out one of the Phoenix area’s multiple waterparks. Wet’n’Wild is the largest waterpark in the state, offering more than 20 slides, raft rivers, and thrill rides. Several resorts and amusement parks have their own water ride sections.
Whichever option you choose, remember to apply sunscreen, bring plenty of water, and pace yourself!