Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe Sports & Activities

The mountains surrounding the Valley of the Sun are among its greatest assets, and outdoors enthusiasts have plenty of options within the city limits to pursue hiking, bird-watching, or mountain-biking passions. Piestewa Peak, north of Downtown Phoenix, is popular with hikers, and Camelback Mountain and the Papago Peaks are landmarks between Phoenix and Scottsdale. South of Downtown are the much less lofty peaks of South Mountain Park, which separates the Valley from the rest of the Sonoran Desert. East of the city, beyond Tempe and Mesa, the peaks of the Superstition Mountains—named for their eerie way of seeming just a few miles away—are the first of a range that stretches all the way into New Mexico.

Central Arizona's dry desert heat imposes particular restraints on outdoor endeavors—even in winter, hikers and cyclists should wear lightweight opaque clothing, a hat or visor, and high UV–rated sunglasses, and should carry a quart of water for each hour of activity. The intensity of the sun makes strong sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) a must, and don't forget to apply it to your hands and feet. From May 1 to October 1 you shouldn't jog or hike from one hour after sunrise until a half hour before sunset. During these times the air is so hot and dry that your body will lose moisture at a dangerous, potentially lethal rate. And keep your eyes peeled in natural desert areas; rattlesnakes and scorpions could be on the prowl.

Ballooning

A sunrise or sunset hot-air-balloon ascent is a remarkable desert sightseeing experience. The average fee—there are more than three dozen Valley...

Bicycling

There are plenty of gorgeous areas for biking in the Phoenix area, but riding in the streets isn't recommended, as there are few adequate bike...

Four-Wheeling

Taking a jeep through the backcountry has become a popular way to experience the desert's saguaro-covered mountains and curious rock formations...

Golf

Arizona has more golf courses per capita than any other state west of the Mississippi River, making it one of the most popular golf destinations...

Hiking

One of the best ways to see the beauty of the Valley of the Sun is from above, so hikers of all calibers seek a vantage point in the mountains...

Horseback Riding

More than two dozen stables and equestrian-tour outfitters in the Valley attest to the saddle's enduring importance in Arizona—even in this...

Multisport Outfitters

Arizona Outback Adventures. The personable staff at AOA lead half-day, full-day, and multiday adventures for hikers, bikers, rafters, and...

Sailplaning–Soaring

Northwest Sky Sports. Scenic sailplane rides from this company last from 15 to 30 minutes. Rates are $150 for one person and $200 for two people...

Tennis

With all the blue sky and sunshine in the Valley, it's a perfect place to play tennis or watch the pros. Most major resorts, such as the Phoenician...

Tubing

The Valley may not be known for its wealth of water, but locals manage to make the most of what there is. A popular summer stop is the northeast...

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Fodor's Arizona & the Grand Canyon 2016

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