Look to the Stars

By local contributor
Scott McGinty

Unlike cities that are frequently visited by cloudy skies, Scottsdale’s clear blue yonder allows for optimal star gazing year-round. There are plenty of stargazing tours around town, but if you want to trek out on your own, we’ve compiled a list of the best local spots to stargaze. Just make sure you bring a GPS if you decide to go off-road, in which case we’ll recommend four-wheel drive, too!

Verde River Area

Take Scottsdale Road or Pima Road north to Dynamite Boulevard and head east until it becomes Forest Road and ends at McDowell Mountain Road. Turn left at the intersection onto Service Road 20 and follow it as it parallels the Verde River on your right until you find a turn-off to pull safely off the road. You’re miles away from bright city lights here, so you’ll have a great view of the celestial bodies. Note for your return trip: Remember to turn right on Forest Road as you leave the river area; it turns into Dynamite Boulevard as it heads west.

Saguaro Lake

Take a late afternoon boat tour on Saguaro Lake’s Desert Belle, enjoy dinner on the patio at the Lakeshore Restaurant (Wed.-Sun.), then get ready for some outstanding stargazing. Turn right onto Bush Highway as you leave the marina and pull over at Butcher Jones Road. This is a day-use area so the gate will be closed, but you should be able to pull off the road safely enough to stargaze for a bit, or drive a little further for other pullouts.

McDowell Mountain Regional Park

Located just north of Fountain Hills on Scottsdale’s northeastern border, McDowell Mountain Regional Park is open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 8 p.m. the rest of the week. There are many well-marked picnic and camping areas where you can pull off the road to search for your favorite constellations. Bring a flashlight if you plan to walk a bit down any of the park’s trails. Check out the park’s event calendar for guided moonlight walks and nighttime mountain-biking treks (helmets with lights required).

Scottsdale Resorts

Many of our resorts are located right on the edge of open desert, which means minimal city lights and plenty of stars. Check-in at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon NorthBoulders Resort & SpaCarefree Resort & Conference CenterWe-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center and CopperWynd Resort & Club.