The desert is in bloom! Put on your hiking shoes and get ready for a beautiful display of color from the desert this spring. Here are the best places in Phoenix to see the desert wildflowers.
South Mountain Park/Preserve
Areas in the preserve with wildflower displays usually include the Bajada, Las Lomitas, Ranger Kiwanic accessible from the Central Avenue entrance. The roadway leading to the Gila Valley overlook (Central Avenue entrance) also offers wildflower growth. Also, look for wildflowers on the north facing slopes in the Pima Canyon and Beverly Canyon (Javalina Trail) entrances of the park.
Check the north-facing slopes on trails from the Desert Vista Trail trailhead parking area, including areas along the Desert Tortoise and Verde trails, both accessible from the trailhead parking area.
Piestewa Peak Area
Trail 8, the Quartz Ridge Trail – the trailhead is at 40th street south of Shea Boulevard. Several trails with north-facing slopes around Piestewa Peak that are accessible from the Phoenix Mountains Park and Recreation area are also good spots for wildflower viewing.
Hillsides and washes surrounding Trail 100 out of the Dreamy Draw trailhead at Northern Avenue and Highway 51 often are covered in a wide variety of wildflower blooms.
For more up-to-date information about wildflower blooms around Phoenix visit the Desert Botanical Gardens Wildflower Info site.
Who knew you could find water sports, bats, a castle, a Japanese garden and more in the greater Phoenix area? Check out these unexpected attractions that just may surprise you.
Perched atop a cactus-covered hill in east-central Phoenix, Tovrea (pronounced TOE-vree) Castle at Carraro Heights has intrigued generations of Valley residents. The castle and surrounding cactus garden have recently been restored and are currently open for tours.
The Rio Salado Audubon Center is a nature center in the heart of the City of Phoenix’s Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area, a 600-acre park along the Salt River. Located less than two miles from downtown Phoenix, this unexpected Phoenix attraction is a gateway to a lush riparian habitat used by more than 200 species of birds. Other wildlife you might spot on a visit to the restoration area includes beavers, muskrats, coyotes, jackrabbits, cottontails and javelinas.
The Japanese Friendship Garden—Ro Ho En—features more than 1,500 tons of handpicked rock, more than 50 varieties of plants, flowing streams, a 12-foot waterfall and a Koi pond. The garden is the product and shared cultural vision of the Sister Cities of Phoenix and Himeji, Japan. This unexpected Phoenix attraction is a great way to spend a sunny day.
Did you know Phoenix has a great urban bat-watching spot? Each summer several thousand Mexican free-tailed bats and western pipistrelle bats use the Maricopa County Flood Control Tunnel near 40th Street and Camelback Road as a day roost.
Enjoy the beautiful sandstone buttes that define Papago Park and climb to the park’s most popular spot, Hole-in-the-Rock, to enjoy sweeping views of Phoenix.
Located about 45 minutes northwest of downtown Phoenix, Lake Pleasant is always bustling with water sports and outdoor enthusiasts. The 10,000-acre lake is enjoyed by windsurfers, boaters, sailors, jet skiers and fisherman.
The Hall of Flame Fire Museum has almost an acre of fire history exhibits with more than 90 fully restored pieces of fire apparatus on display dating from 1725 to 1969. The Hall of Flame sponsors the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes, which honors firefighters who have died in the line of duty or have been decorated for heroism.
There is a lot to see and do in Phoenix. But our city is also a hub for a number of memorable day trips that allow you to explore Arizona for the day and still be back for dinner in Phoenix. One day-trip destination that never fails to wow visitors is Sedona, which is renowned for being one of the most scenic regions in the country and less than two hours drive from Phoenix.
Sedona is a red-rock playground where romantic weekends are perfected and photographers' dreams come true. Picturesque spas offer healing and restorative therapies, and off-road tours deliver adrenaline-inducing adventure. Sedona is also a place where families can make lifelong memories and shoppers can discover that perfect Southwestern gift.
We asked our friends at Visit Sedona to share a few of their favorite things to do in this beautiful city, and they put together the following list of can't-miss activities:
Top 10 Things to do in Sedona
1. Hike, with more than 200 trails to choose from.
2. Shop at more than 80 galleries, boutiques and stores.
3. Take a trolley tour.
Greater Phoenix is an outdoor adventurer's dream. We have year-round sunshine and blue skies, a seemingly endless array of mountain trails, desert terrain adorned with iconic saguaro cactuses, and six lakes and a flowing river within a 75-minute drive of the city. With all these options, where does someone start their exploration?
The guides at Arizona Outback Adventures are here to help. Over the coming weeks we'll be featuring tips from AOA guides about everything from paddling to hiking to mountain biking in Phoenix and the surrounding region. They'll show us where to go, what to do, and maybe divulge a few of their insider secrets, too.
This week we feature Megan Anderson. Megan is a native to the Phoenix area and has been exploring the Sonoran Desert her whole life. She's been working as an outdoor guide for 10 years.
What's the best way to explore the desert around Phoenix?
Hiking, of course. It’s the classic, never-fail way to see all the Sonoran has to offer. You can enjoy this sport basically anywhere and it slows you down so your experience is enhanced by things like blooming flowers, cloud formations and wildlife encounters.
What's a good family-friendly adventure in Phoenix?
Rafting and kayaking trips on the Lower Salt River are super fun and enjoyable for everyone. There are some great indoor adventures around too, though – rock climbing at AZ on the Rocks or the Phoenix Rock Gym, or trampoline gyms like SkyPark and AZ Air Time are my favorites!
Take a moment to enjoy this tour through a few of the many beautiful areas to enjoy outdoor recreation in Phoenix:
View on YouTube.