The Top 5 Ways to Explore Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert

Scottsdale, Ariz., is located in the Sonoran Desert – a vibrant oasis bursting at the seams with unusual wildlife and vegetation, including 2,000 native plant species. The pristine landscape beckons visitors to get out and explore, but the options are as varied as the terrain itself. Here are five ways to explore Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert setting during your next visit.

1. Hiking
Scottsdale offers nearly 100 miles of hiking, biking and horseback-riding trails. Some of the most popular spots include Camelback Mountain and Pinnacle Peak Park, but nothing beats the picturesque expanses of Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which offers nearly 20,000 acres to enjoy do-it-yourself or guided outdoor adventures.

2. Off-Road Desert Tours
If you prefer to take in your outdoor action from the comfort of a motorized vehicle, there are myriad options available in Scottsdale.

3. Horseback Riding
For those who want to get in touch with their inner cowboy (or cowgirl), Scottsdale offers horseback riding across the same terrain that hosted such legendary figures as Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid and renowned Apache warrior, Geronimo. These guided adventures can even take you through the cool waters of the Verde River.

4. Hot Air Balloon Adventures
In a landscape as panoramic as the Sonoran Desert, there’s no more leisurely way to soak it all in than aboard a hot air balloon. Riders gently drift with the breeze as the pilot floats the balloon several hundred feet into the air or swoops in low to point out wildlife and native vegetation. Plus, every ride ends with a gourmet breakfast in the desert.
5. Water Sports
First-time visitors might be surprised by the number of wet ’n’ wild adventures available in and around Scottsdale. The city’s outskirts are chock-full with lakes, watering holes and rivers. Rafting, tubing and fishing are all available to visitors who want to explore Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert.

For more ideas and resources for exploring Scottsdale’s great outdoors, download the Desert Discovery Guide, which features trail listings and provides a comprehensive overview of the Sonoran Desert.