Embrace the outdoors when you are in Scottsdale

By GolfPublisher Staff, Staff Report

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - The magnificent natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert and Scottsdale's comfortable year-round temperatures make outdoor adventures and activities a way of life. Scottsdale is home to more than 58 miles of bike paths, 40 miles of riding and hiking trails, and more than 174 area golf courses. Enjoy a breakfast trail ride in the McDowell Mountain foothills followed by a hearty cowboy breakfast cooked over an open fire. Take a relaxing rafting excursion on the Salt or Verde rivers.

Experience the tranquility of kayaking on a desert lake. Explore the area's diverse ecosystem at the Desert Botanical Garden. Take off in a glider and soar through the sky like a hawk. Hike a mountain, bike a trail, rollerblade through the lush green expanses of Indian Bend Wash or hit the links in one of the most dynamic golfing communities in the American Southwest. Following are just some of the ways to enjoy the beautiful Sonoran Desert in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Mountain Biking, Hiking & Backpacking

Nestled in the lush Sonoran Desert, Scottsdale is bordered by the McDowell Mountains and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which consists of 12,876 acres of protected land. These areas provide the perfect landscape for mountain biking, hiking and backpacking. Enjoy the thrill of mountain and cross-country desert biking on picturesque nature trails at one of Scottsdale's popular hiking and backpacking spots. Favored trails can be found at McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Camelback Mountain, Papago Park, Squaw Peak and the Superstition Mountains. All of these trails offer magnificent vistas and the opportunity to experience the Sonoran Desert up close and personal. Visit www.desertbikingadventures.com, www.highsonoran.com, www.adventuresoutwest.com, www.arizona-adventures.com, www.azoutbackadventures.com and www.ci.scottsdale.az.us/preserve for more details.

Rock Climbing & Rappelling

Have you ever walked along the base of a tall cliff or rock formation and wondered what the view looks like from the top? Don't just wonder, find out! Professional climbing guides can help you experience the thrill of recreational rock climbing and rappelling. You'll experience some of the desert's most beautiful scenery from new heights, while building your self-confidence and enjoying a great sense of accomplishment. On any given weekend, the granite cliff-faces will be dotted with tiny figures in bright clothing dangling at the ends of long ropes. The McDowell, Granite and Cholla mountains are hot spots for the booming sport of recreational rock climbing. Visit www.arizona-adventures.com for more details.

Rock-Climbing Resort-Style

For travelers who don't want to leave their luxury property to rock climb, The Boulders resort offers rock-climbing clinics taught by professional guides. The clinic is geared for beginners, but private climbs for the advanced are available. Crystalline granite and metamorphic rock, estimated to be about two billion years old, comprise the rock formations that define the spectacular desert landscape surrounding The Boulders. A rock climber's paradise, these majestic formations were pushed up by a fault and eroded about 12 million years ago. The rock is particularly good for climbing due to its sharp, abrasive consistency, which makes for good traction. Visit www.wyndham.com/Boulders for more details.

Off-Road Jeep & Hummer Tours

Off-road Jeep and Hummer tours are a wonderful way to enjoy the desert's Old West history and experience its beautiful flora and fauna. Interpretive guides provide entertaining stories of the Old West (including a tall tale or two!) as well as interesting facts about the cacti, plants and animals that make up the desert's delicate ecosystem. Tour options can include gold panning, pistol shooting, jeep/horseback and jeep/river rafting combinations, chuck-wagon cookouts and more. Visit www.arizonabound.com, www.adventuresoutwest.com, www.azadventures.com and www.wildwestjeeptours.com for more details.

Horseback Riding

Enjoy a sunrise horseback ride through the McDowell Mountains followed by a hearty cowboy cookout for breakfast. From high in the saddle, you'll see exotic cactus, rolling desert foothills, and crystalline streams. As you explore the pristine, natural habitats, your guide will entertain you with the stories and legends of Arizona's first cowboys. "Greenhorns" and bowlegged caballeros alike will enjoy the quiet grandeur of the Sonoran Desert and the companionship of a gentle horse. Visit www.adventuresoutwest.com, www.arizonabound.com and www.macdonaldsranch.com for more details.

Hot Air Ballooning & Aerial Adventures

The Sonoran Desert is a unique and beautiful place when observed from ground level, but the view from above is astounding in its expansiveness and grandeur. Hot air ballooning is a wonderfully tranquil experience for visitors of all ages. Sunrise and sunset flights provide magnificent vistas of desert terrain and towering mountain ranges. The view from the balloon's handcrafted wicker basket is virtually unobstructed - a photographer's dream!

Upon landing, you will be welcomed back to earth in the traditional manner with flutes of champagne and breakfast (a custom dating back more than 100 years). For the more adventurous, soaring provides another unforgettable airborne adventure. Ride the wind currents in peaceful serenity with a professional sailplane pilot at the helm. True thrill-seekers will want to try an aerobatic sailplane flight or test their skills as a fighter pilot in an aerial combat adventure. Visit www.hotairexpeditions.com, www.unicornballoon.com, www.adventuresoutwest.com, www.azballoon.com, www.azsoaring.com, www.turfsoaring.com and www.fightercombat.com for more details.

River Rafting, Kayaking, Fishing & Water Sports

In Arizona, our rivers, streams and lakes are lush, pristine oases surrounded on all sides by the beauty of the Sonoran Desert - perfect settings for water adventures of every kind! Rafting, kayaking and canoeing are popular ways to explore the lakes and rivers in the Scottsdale area. If you aren't equipped with gear, several Scottsdale-based adventure travel companies provide raft and kayak trips on both the Salt and Verde Rivers.

These excursions offer the opportunity to view the desert wildlife including eagles, herons, egrets, hawks and occasionally larger species such as coyotes, javelina and deer. Anglers will find largemouth bass, trout, crappie, catfish, yellow bass and sunfish populating local rivers and lakes. Find a quiet spot along the shore for bird and wildlife watching (raptors, songbirds and desert mammals are abundant). Experience the adventure of flying over the water on water-skis, parasail on one of our lakes, or tube down one of our rivers. Whatever your water pleasure, it's all nearby! Visit www.arizona-adventures.com, www.desertvoyagers.com, www.azoutbackadventures.com, www.saltrivertubing.com, www.adventuresoutwest.com, www.highsonoran.com, www.arizonabound.com and www.scottsdalecvb.com/leisure for more details.

Arizona Cowboy College

If you are really looking to work out muscles you probably don't know you have, the Arizona Cowboy College will certainly do that. Now offering one-day clinics, "students" looking to live the life of a cowboy will get a taste of it in Scottsdale. Cowboy wannabe's sleep under starry skies and partake in comprehensive and rigorous classes about cattle, horsemanship, and on-the-range lessons on cutting, branding, inoculating, dehorning and driving cattle. Cowboy up for this true, western adventure! Visit www.cowboycollege.com for more details.

Leisure Walks & Rollerblading

Scottsdale offers many beautiful places for leisurely walks, romantic strolls, and great rollerblading. Browse through the Desert Botanical Garden 's many exhibits including the Cactus House, the Succulent House, the Sonoran Desert Ecology Trail and more. Moonlight walks and outdoor evening concerts are offered during the warmer months.

Walking and biking trails abound in Scottsdale's signature greenbelt area along the Indian Bend Wash, also a popular rollerblading spot. The park includes a small lake for fishing, a playground, picnicking, swimming pool and more. Located in the eastern foothills of the majestic McDowell Mountains, McDowell Mountain Regional Park offers picnic tables, easy walking trails and up-close access to the Sonoran Desert. Visit www.dbg.org and www.maricopa.gov/rec_svc/mcdowell for more details.

GolfPublisher Staff, Staff Report

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