Sonoran Desert Guided Adventure Tours

Sonoran Desert Hiking Tours

The Sonoran Desert is one of the four major North American deserts that are found generally in the southwestern continental US, northwestern mainland Mexico, and the Baja California peninsula (sonoran desert map). Visitors who come for the hiking in Phoenix or the hiking in Tucson often ask “Where is the Sonoran Desert?” when the cities to which they traveled are actually part of and surrounded by this same ecosystem. The myriad of Phoenix hiking trails and the majority of the Tucson hiking trails, as is the case with many Arizona hiking trails, share the common Sonoran elements of Saguaro cactus, drought-adapted trees and shrubs, a biannual rainy season, and a lack of freezing temperatures that result in the tremendous biotic diversity of this region.

Hiking Near Phoenix

Hiking Near Phoenix

The city of Phoenix has long established desert mountain parks, but for many enthusiasts, the hiking in Scottsdale (a Phoenix suburb) has a great range of trails and distances. Nearly one third of the entire city is protected as part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, a conservation are funded in large part by a citizen’s referendum to establish a bond to procure the land. One of the favorite hikes in the Preserve is the Tom’s Thumb trail, which leds after a steep climb to a whimsical rock knob and a stunning view of Scottsdale and the Tonto National Forest. The Tom’s Thumb hike is great for experienced hikers, but if a less challenging route is desired, there are many lower-angled trails in McDowell Mountain Regional Park which abuts the Preserve to the east.

Arizona Hiking – Outside the City

Arizona Hiking – Outside the City

Some of the best hikes in Arizona are located on more remote areas of public lands, of which Arizona has some of the highest percentage of any state apart from Alaska.  Immediately to the south of Phoenix is the Sonoran Desert National Monument which was set aside to preserve what was once considered “waste land” and is now valued for its lowland Sonoran habitat. On either side of the Tucson metro area are the dual components of Saguaro national Park. The western unit preserves large stands of the iconic Saguaro cactus, while the east unit climbs the slopes of the Rincon Mountains, with the Sonoran ecosystem giving way to upland transition habitat on the higher slopes. Farther south, along the Sonora/Arizona border is the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument where a columnar cactus more common in mainland Mexico is established in the southern Arizona desert.

More Sonoran Desert Adventures

Hiking is not all that the Sonoran Desert has to offer, in fact there are many activities of all kinds for adventurers to enjoy.

Biking in Arizona

Biking enthusiasts will find a wide array of both on and off-road cycling opportunities throughout central and southern Arizona. The lack of rainfall in the Sonoran Desert means the roads don’t get potholed and worn so the tarmac is smooth and great for winter road biking rides. Many of the same trails that are popular with hikers are also multi-use trails open to mountain bike riders.

Learn More Before You Go

Whether a first time desert explorer or grizzled Sonoran veteran, a visit to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (sometimes mistakenly called the Sonoran Desert Museum) provides world-class exhibits and information on Sonoran Desert animals, plants, native people, and the influence of human migration to this area. There is something here for everyone to learn, and will significantly heighten the appreciation of anyone setting out on a hike in the Arizona desert.