Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe
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 the East Valley. South of Downtown are the much less lofty peaks of South Mountain Park, which separates the Valley from the rest of the Sonoran Desert.
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.