Explore Phoenix-Scottsdale

Things to Do Outdoors Around Phoenix

No matter how far you wish to travel from the city center, outdoor adventures are easily found in and around Phoenix—including hiking and mountain-biking one of the Valley’s prominent mountains or escaping to the east for a day of boating on Saguaro Lake. 

The season often dictates the activities here. Water sports at nearby lakes and floating along the Salt River are best saved for summer months, whereas rock climbing and horseback riding are most enjoyed when the desert cools down October through April. Any time of year, be sure to bring a hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen and water before embarking on your outdoor adventure!

Camelback Mountain

These are strenuous summit hikes, and they forever change hikers’ admiration of the “camel’s back” from anywhere in the Valley. The Cholla trail rises from a neighborhood of mansions near The Phoenician’s golf courses and becomes narrow, steep and rocky in some parts.

Piestewa Peak

The challenging 1.2-mile trail to the 2,608-foot summit is probably the most popular hike in the city. Families inch their way up, outdistanced by fitness buffs who try to make the round trip in less than an hour.

Papago Park

The park’s thoroughfare, Galvin Parkway, is the prettiest route between Scottsdale resorts and the Phoenix airport, lined as it is by acres of Sonoran Desert flora and sandstone buttes; this vehicular visibility doesn’t overwhelm the tranquility, though.

Pinnacle Peak Park

Spy on multi-million-dollar homes while trotting in the shadow of Pinnacle Peak. The undulating, non-loop footpath is 1.75 miles in each direction and hits its highest point—2,889 feet—about a third of the way in.

Tempe Town Lake

Time spent walking, biking or skating along Tempe Town Lake can feel like a mini-vacation; after all, this is a sparkling waterfront in the Phoenix-area desert.

Salt River Tubing

Rent a tube and float along the Salt River for two, three or five hours during summer months. Round-trip bus transportation from parking lot/rental area to the river.

Bartlett Lake Marina

Just an hour from Scottsdale in the heart of the Tonto National Forest is Barlett Lake, a lake with a boatable surface area of 2,815 acres. The Barlett Lake Marina rents boats, party yachts, jet skiis, kayaks and SUP boards, and the Barlett Lake Grill serves up burgers, sandwiches and salads.