Best Hikes and Nature Things To Do in Greater Phoenix Arizona

Looking to fit in a quick, easy, hike or other things to do that involve nature? From Scottsdale to Glendale, and across the Greater Phoenix Arizona area, nature and great views are right around the corner. And easy to get to!

Sign for Bajada Trail next to a saguaro cactus at White Tank Mountain Regional Park
Alec Sprague | TPIN
Sign for Bajada Trail next to a saguaro cactus at White Tank Mountain Regional Park

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Whether you’re visiting Arizona for Super Bowl LVII, Waste Management Phoenix Open, Spring Training, or you live here already, it’s always great to find some time to get out and experience nature. The valley of the sun has a lot of it! Here are some of my favorite places to hike and otherwise experience Arizona nature while you’re in the valley.

Note: February and March are two of the best months to hike and enjoy nature in the valley. If you are planning to hike during the summer months, make sure you have a plan that is safe in the summer heat.

Phoenix Mountains Preserve, including Piestewa Peak

view from Phoenix Mountains Preserve
Alec Sprague | TPIN
View from a hike in Phoenix Mountains Preserve

Phoenix has a vast open space right in the city, next to Scottsdale, that is perfect for fitting in a hike to your visit to the valley. Within minutes you’ll forget you’re in the 5th most populous city in the country, as you surround yourself by spiny cacti and dusty hills of the desert. There are many hiking trails for people of all ages and abilities — quick and easy trails, or summitting Piestewa Peak, which offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape as well as the Phoenix skyline.

Trailhead locations, parking information, and maps

White Tank Mountain Regional Park

three images of petroglyphs in the White Tank Mountains
Alec Sprague | TPIN
Three images of petroglyphs in the White Tank Mountains

State Farm Stadium and much of the valley feature a backdrop of mountains to the west, called the White Tanks. The regional park housing these mountains is perfect for tranquil hikes through the desert, including closeup views of rocks carved with petroglyph figures and symbols up to 10,000 years ago.

There is a fee to enter the park. Information about fees, parking, and hiking trails.

South Mountain, including Dobbins Lookout

Dobbins Lookout on South Mountain in Phoenix, AZ.

South Mountain is another great preserve with trails in Phoenix. But if you’re not in the mood for hiking, you can also drive up the mountain to Dobbins Lookout to see the amazing views. Along your drive or hike, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife including javelinas (they look similar to wild boar), coyotes, lizards, and hawks.

Trailhead locations, parking information, and maps.

Desert Botanical Gardens

View from Desert Botanical Garden Phoenix Arizona

The Desert Botanical Gardens are another great way to experience the wild beauty of the Sonoran Desert. The gardens include many of the cacti and agave you’d see traveling through the desert (over 1,000 saguaros!) all in one place, as well as endangered and other hard-to-find plants that need our conservation.

Fees, hours, and additional information to plan your visit.

Butterfly Wonderland

Closeup of Paper Kite Butterfly on a Flower at Butterfly Wonderland - Scottsdale AZ
ksblack99 via Flicker | Public Domain
Closeup of Paper Kite Butterfly on a Flower at Butterfly Wonderland - Scottsdale AZ

The valley of the sun also hosts the largest butterfly conservatory in the country, located in Scottsdale. Check out these stunning pollinators that are crucial to our ecosystem and pollinate many of the foods we love.

Fees, hours, and additional information to plan you visit.

 

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Alec Sprague

Director, New Member Strategies, The Public Interest Network

Alec develops and tests strategies for organizations in The Public Interest Network to recruit more members to support our work. His areas of expertise include using data and analysis to identify opportunities to build our organizations' memberships. Alec formerly played an advisory role for a systems platform used by half of Fortune 100 companies. Alec lives in Arizona, where he enjoys hiking, camping and exploring the great outdoors.