Exploring Nature in the Valley of the Sun

phoenix, phoenix skyline, arizona

Spread across the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix Mountain Preserve is home to mountains, valleys, and desert trails, which provide great hiking, biking, and outdoor experiences. While downtown Phoenix is a bustling area with exciting nightlife, restaurants, sports arenas, and art galleries, there are many activities you can enjoy in the Valley of the Sun. Hotels near downtown Phoenix are convenient accommodation options for tourists, as many of the desert trails are directly accessible from central Phoenix.

Desert Botanical Garden – Learn About the Desert

Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona

Image via Flickr by RightBrainPhotography

Situated in Papago Park, Desert Botanical Garden exhibits an impressive collection of desert flora. The sprawling garden comprises five thematic trails. The garden hosts various outdoor activity programs to educate visitors about the ecology of the desert.

The Desert Wildflower Trail, which includes Monarch Butterfly Exhibit, is best visited in spring. The Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert Trail offers a wider spectrum of desert life by showcasing the lifestyle of the native tribal communities and how they use plants for food, medication, and home construction. In April, the evenings are jazzed up with concerts and ballet performances against the backdrop of stunning desert landscapes.

Phoenix Zoo – Encounter the Wild

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Image via Flickr by mightyb

The Phoenix Zoo, the home to nearly 1,200 animals, is the place to learn about the region’s wildlife. The zoo provides shelter for several endangered species. You can catch a glimpse of them when you trek along the specially designed areas in the zoo, such as the Enchanted Forest and Monkey Village. From feeding giraffes to playing with stingrays, you can join interactive tours or stop by the 4-D theater to keep busy throughout the day.

Camelback Mountain – Hikers’ Haven

Camelback mountain, hiking, sonoran desert, Phoenix, arizona

Image via Flickr by ThreeIfByBike

Only a 20-minute drive from downtown Phoenix, Camelback Mountain awaits adventure seekers with moderate to difficult hiking trails. As you hike or climb its red sandstone cliffs, you’ll come across a variety of animals along the way. Camelback’s highest point offers a 360-degree view of Phoenix.

Although hiking to the top of the mountain is quite challenging and is recommended for advanced hikers only, the view from the top is rewarding. Beginners can try The Praying Monk rock formation for climbing or Cholla Trailhead for hiking.

The Sonoran Desert – Explore Nature

purple cactus, sonoran desert trail, desert flora, phoenix, arizona

Image via Flickr by Ed Suominen

The desert is home to several unique North American species of plants and animals. Monsoon rain twice a year is the secret behind the immense biodiversity of this region. The desert is the playground for jaguars, gila monsters, jackrabbits, and big horn sheep.

From a day-long hike to a multi-day backpacking trip, from camping to rock climbing in the desert, there are options galore for travelers. As you roam around, you’ll come across the native Indian communities that have lived in the desert for thousands of years. Go for a Jeep safari or a hot air balloon ride if you aren’t a hiker.

Grand Canyon and Sedona – Soak In the Views

grand canyon, grand canyon national park, phoenix, arizona

Image via Flickr by ChrisM70

This is a must-see when you are in Phoenix. Arrange day trips to Grand Canyon National Park and explore Arizona’s unique natural wonders, including the Painted Desert and the Little Colorado River Gorge. The road through the desert is lined with giant saguaro cacti that can be 50 feet tall. Stop in the picturesque town of Sedona or at the historic sites of the Navajo Nation. The Jeep will take you up along the Oak Creek Canyon. Soak in the views of the pine forests and San Francisco peak from a height of 6,000 feet.

As you can see, Phoenix has a long list of attractions when it comes to exploring nature. South Mountain Park, North Mountain Preserve, and Shaw Butte are treasure troves of aboriginal flora and fauna. The Valley’s diverse landscapes beckon intrepid travelers for exciting experiences. The best time to visit Phoenix is spring, as cacti are in full bloom. Since November through April is high season here, expect highest rates for hotels and accommodation during this time.

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