By Land, Water or Air: Be an Adventurer in Metro Phoenix

From hot air balloons to ATVs, our picks for fun tours and more ways to explore the metro Phoenix area

Sure, you can rent a car and drive around town. That’s always a great way to explore a new place and get the lay of the land. But if you’re up for an adventure off the beaten path, try these on for size. There are Phoenix tour options whether you prefer a bird's-eye view, an off-road experience or a turn around a lake.

Tours By Land

When you’ve finished wandering around some of the city centers or hiking nearby mountains, grab a horse and explore the desert like the cowboys do. Fort McDowell Adventures has everything from trail rides on horseback through the open desert to real cattle drives. If autos rather than animals beckon as your preferred mode of transportation, choose between Jeeps, Hummers or ATVs. Pink Jeep Tours offers an off-road experience through the Sonoran Desert in, yes, an iconic pink Jeep. Stellar Adventures takes you exploring through Four Peaks and the Superstition Mountains in a Hummer. And if heading deep into the unchartered desert on an ATV is more your style, Desert Wolf Tours’ Tomcar ATVs put you in the driver’s seat.

The Dolly Steamboat

Tours By Sea

Ok, so Arizona isn’t exactly by the sea–but we do have gorgeous lakes here. About an hour east of Phoenix is Canyon Lake, set in an area nicknamed the “Junior Grand Canyon” and known for wildlife such as desert bighorn sheep and bald eagles. See what you can spot during a scenic nature cruise, a twilight dinner cruise or an astronomy cruise on The Dolly Steamboat, a replica of a classic American sternwheeler. Nearby is Saguaro Lake, which is set in a desert canyon and also features a variety of wildlife, including ring-tailed cats, bobcats, mountain lions, bighorn sheep and deer. The two-level Desert Belle has cruised the lake for more than 40 years and offers 90-minute narrated and educational tours. In addition to the chance to spot exotic animals, you’ll find the dramatic desert vistas and towering canyon walls an impressive sight. 

Rainbow Ryders

Tours By Air

Take in the sunrise (or sunset) and scenic Valley views from the basket of a hot-air balloon with Rainbow Ryders. You can choose which area of the Valley you’d prefer to float over–Phoenix, Queen Creek or Mesa. A celebratory toast and snacks are provided upon landing. Hot Air Expeditions includes gourmet cuisine post-flight whether you take to the skies in the morning or afternoon. Or, take to the air in a small plane. Westwind Air Service has scenic flights that leave from Deer Valley Airport and the “Valley of the Sun” tour soars over the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix and Scottsdale. For shorter tours, Arizona Helicopter Adventures offers helicopter tours that range from just 10-12 mintues to 40-42 minutes. You can choose to fly over Paradise Vallley, Fountain Hills or Desert Lakes.

Michelle Glicksman
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