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Outdoor & Sport Activities in Phoenix

The vast plains of the Sonoran Desert offer up opportunities for all manner of outdoor activities in Phoenix. Aerial adventures by helicopter or balloon get the adrenaline pumping while back down on earth, jeep tours take you into the heart of the wilderness.

For wildlife watching, venture out on horseback and explore the desert like the pioneers of old. Or stick to two feet and experience a spiritual connection to the land as you hike along the remote trails.

Hot air balloon rides

To get a handle on the lay of the land, hot air balloon rides in Phoenix go above and beyond. Your journey through the Sonoran skies is silent, interrupted only by the reassuring roar of the burner. It’s a humbling experience, where nature reigns supreme.

Hot air ballooning is one of the top Phoenix outdoor activities for adventure enthusiasts and photographers. Sunrise and sunset flights add an extra element of magic, showing off the famous Camelback Mountain in its best light. You can celebrate in style after your Sonoran Desert flight with a glass of bubbly.

Jeep tours

Venture beyond the beaten tourist trail and explore the desert differently on a Phoenix jeep tour. The towering mountains and cactus plains set the scene as you bounce along the rugged tracks. Hold on tight and embrace the ride through the sprawling Tonto National Forest – keep an eye out for the wild horses that roam here.

Photo stops in Pinnacle Peak Park give you a chance for a breather during these exhilarating outdoor activity experiences in Phoenix. You’ll learn about local flora and fauna from your guide, to give you a better understanding of this unique desert landscape.

Quad bike trips

Quad biking trips are a fun way to explore the rocky trails of the Sonoran Desert. You’ll get up close and personal with the untouched wilderness while feeling all the thrills as you ramp up the power. When it comes to adrenaline activities in Phoenix, ATV tours are at the top of the list.

You may encounter wildlife as you hurtle over the dusty plains – coyotes and bighorn sheep make curious spectators. Tours take place across the desert, from Box Canyon to the Bradshaw Mountains. They usually set off from the northern edge of the city.

Hiking

Lace up your boots and head into the unknown as you discover the Sonoran wilderness on foot. Hiking in the desert is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Phoenix. It gives you a deeper connection to the environment and is an unobtrusive way to explore.

You’ll learn about the wild inhabitants and how the landscape has been formed over millions of years. Guided hikes often take place around Sedona, where the gleaming red rocks will take your breath away. Other popular locations include the accessible Sonoran Preserve, Cave Creek and the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.

Kayaking

Kayaking is king among Phoenix outdoor activities. Excursions take place in the Tonto National Forest and are suitable for all levels of paddler. For something gentle, kayaking tours on Lake Saguaro offer an immersive experience in the heart of nature. The mountain landscape paints a pretty picture and wildlife can often be spotted on the shores.

Ramp the adventure up a notch with a trip on the Lower Salt River. There are a few easy rapids to navigate, and on some tours, you can venture into the wilds without a guide like a true pioneer.

Helicopter excursions

Scenic helicopter flights in Phoenix give you front-row seats to some of the most dramatic vistas in the American West. You can hover over the Grand Canyon, and gaze down at the colorful layering that defines the world’s most famous gorge. These trips usually include a walk along the South Rim to check out the viewpoints.

Closer to Phoenix, some helicopter tours fly over Paradise Valley and the McDowell Mountains where you’ll spot remote lakes hidden between the peaks. These epic flights take outdoor activities in Phoenix to a whole new level and will undoubtedly be the highlight of your visit.

Buggy tours

Guided buggy rides out in the Sonoran Desert are your chance to let your hair down and take on the wild. These off-road vehicles can head to places far away from the beaten tourist trails. Yet the best part of these Phoenix adventure activities is being able to take the wheel yourself!

You’ll drive through the rugged terrain, surrounded by unusual landforms and desert plant life. Just try not to hit the cacti as you power across the plains! Intrepid explorers can tackle water crossings and hillside maneuvers, under the watchful eye of the friendly guide.

Bike tours

Bike tours in Phoenix are a fun way to tick off the main city sights. After all, you can see a lot in a short space of time when you’re traveling on two wheels. Not feeling energetic? Don’t worry, the e-bikes will do all the hard work so you can enjoy the views.

As you pedal through the Roosevelt Row Arts District and Heritage Square with your guide you’ll learn about the history of Phoenix. Outdoor sports don’t come more insightful than this! Swap urban streets for rural trails with a mountain bike ride through the Sonoran Desert if you prefer.

Rafting

If you’re looking for adrenaline activities in Phoenix, you can’t go wrong with a bit of rafting. The Lower Salt River is your destination, with the calm waters making the experience accessible for all abilities. This oasis in the Sonoran Desert is packed with wildlife, including free-roaming horses which you may see along the riverbanks. Bighorn sheep are often sighted too.

Your guide will show you the ropes, keeping the raft on track while you paddle gently and take in the views. Cool off with a swim in summer for a fully immersive river adventure.

Indoor skydiving

Would you like to experience the rush of freefall but don’t fancy leaping out of a plane? Then indoor skydiving is the answer. This Phoenix adrenaline activity is perfect for thrill-seekers who are curious to discover what it feels like to be weightless. It’s far cheaper than the real thing too!

Your city center flight takes place in a vertical wind tunnel, where your instructor will be on hand to keep you steady and safe. Daring souls can perform aerial stunts while soaring high in the air, with photo souvenirs to capture the maneuvers.

Horseback riding

Saddle up and practice your best cowboy lingo as you journey into the desert on a horseback riding tour. You’ll travel back in time to the 1800s as you trot along trails that meander through the cactus-studded Sonoran Desert. This is the original Wild West, and it hasn’t changed a bit since the old days!

Of all the outdoor activities in Phoenix, horseback riding is one of the most authentic. Many tours include other Western-themed experiences, like axe throwing, archery and even steel calf wrangling. This truly is the place to come to fulfill all your cowboy dreams.