AOTActive travellers may have a difficult time choosing from Arizona’s long menu of sports and adventure activities. Add to that a dizzying choice of places to stay – from rustic ranches to luxury resorts to charming B&Bs – and it means they can give-it-their-all during the daytime, and tuck in softly at night.
Hiking and Climbing
Arizona is a paradise for mountain climbers. Just steps from Phoenix, the Seven Summits Challenge attracts experienced climbers who try to scale the area’s seven peaks all within a two-day period. Other popular rock climbing sites are the Superstition Mountains, Mount Lemmon and Jack’s Canyon.
Sedona CVBIn the northern part of the state, a land of dramatic red buttes, spires and deep canyons define the high desert of the Four Corners region. Grand Canyon has hiking choices like no other – multi-day, rim-to-rim hikes into the canyon are a popular challenge for the very experienced, but there are plenty of shorter hikes for regular folks. The best hiking trails in curvaceous slot canyons, at Antelope Canyon and Canyon X, are masterpieces of eddying and twisting red sandstone, carved by the forces of wind and water.
Stepping out onto the SkyWalk at Eagle Point is a surreal experience – the glass bridge jutting out over the Grand Canyon is suspended 1,200 metres above the Colorado River. It’s a great starting point before heading out onto one of the area’s many trails on terra firma.
Warning: experiencing the majestic landforms of Arizona from above will electrify even the most experienced thrill seeker, and may be addictive.
Nothing can prepare you for seeing the Grand Canyon from the seat of a helicopter. Flights begin over ponderosa pine forest and then drop over the South Rim revealing spectacular birds-eye views. Operators also offers tours from Scottsdale/Phoenix that fly over the Sonoran Desert, the red rocks of Sedona, as well as the Grand Canyon.
There’s always peace and solitude in soaring quietly and slowly above the wide-open desert, whether skydiving, gliding or riding in an ultralite plane. Floating serenely in the basket of a hot air balloon is another “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.
SkyVenture Arizona (located between Phoenix and Tucson) simulates skydiving at their state-of-the-art indoor skydiving wind tunnel. Guests can master various flying and aerobatic skills without ever having to jump out of an airplane or use a parachute.
Metropolitan Tucson CVBBy Bicycle
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon has now added bicycle rentals. Choose from self-guided routes along the greenway trail system or guided tours. And bicyclists can cover a lot more ground by utilizing the park’s bus system, which can carry up to three bikes per bus.
With a vast number of rugged and challenging trails, Arizona’s terrain is the perfect match for mountain bikes.
In the south, the vast Sonoran Desert and the Santa Catalina Mountains are criss-crossed with mountain biking trails. South Mountain Park in Phoenix has mapped out 82 kilometres of trails from beginner level to expert. The ski lift at Sunrise Park Resort in the heart of the White Mountains is outfitted with special bike carriers to shuttle equipment to the top of Sunrise Mountain. In the Verde River basin area, the McDowell Mountain Regional Park is zigzagged with 80 kilometres of multi-use trails. In Sedona, marked trails offer spectacular views of the area’s beautiful red sandstone formations.
Tucson has been named one of the country’s most bicycle-friendly cities. The city’s network of bike paths and special events like the Tour de Tucson earned it the accolade from Bicycling Magazine.
Guided tours along marked trails reveal the awesome beauty of the world-famous Kartchner Caverns in the southern part of the state. And, Colossal Cave Mountain Park near Tucson offers guided walking tours into the world of cave formations like stalactites, stalagmites and helictites.
On The Water
Water lovers might not think of the Grand Canyon State as a destination of lakes and rivers, but they’d be missing out on some of the best boating and rafting in the Southwest. The vivid blue waters of Lake Powell, encircled by red and orange cliff walls, are especially popular for houseboating vacations. The Navajo Nation owned and operated Antelope Marina offers custom houseboat rentals – from luxury craft to a DIY rental to fit any budget.
With over 600 kilometres of shoreline, boating, parasailing and fishing are very popular on Lake Havasu along the region known as Arizona’s West Coast.
Rafting Arizona’s rivers can be the adventure of a lifetime, and a wonderful way to spot wildlife. Outfitters throughout the state offer half-day to multi-day adventures down waterways including the Salt River Canyon, Verde River and the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
Scottsdale CVBMotor Sports
The thrill of the open road takes on a new meaning when you’re travelling on two wheels – especially in Arizona’s near-perfect riding weather. Twisty backroads and a kaleidoscope of scenery make it the destination for those embracing the motorcycle lifestyle. Local tour operators offer dozens of guided tours for bikers (lasting from three days to two weeks) covering areas like Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, Route 66 and the White Mountains. As well, riders can sign on to be a part of a once-in-a-lifetime event, the Arizona Centennial Ride planned for February 2012.
It’s perfectly acceptable to “put the pedal to the metal” at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Chandler. Half-day to four-day courses for beginners to experienced racers teach participants to drive like track professionals.
Arizona is home to some of the finest ski resorts in the Southwest. At Sunrise Park Resort, near Show Low, skiers and snowboarders from beginner to expert can swoosh down 65 ski runs spread over three peaks. The resort also offers wintertime sleigh rides, tubing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, sledding, cross-country trails and ski rentals and lessons. Arizona Snowbowl near Flagstaff is one of the oldest continuously operated ski resorts in the US.
A new concept aimed squarely at men has come to Parker, on the Colorado River along Arizona’s West Coast. ManCation Nation provides a package of extreme sports – like wakeboarding, sky skiing, water skiing, wake surfing, tubing and parasailing – exotic weapons, off-roading, fishing and golf.