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Scottsdale


Arizona

The outdoors:Scottsdale's Sonoran Desert

Hiking trails that span not only mountain ridges, but history itself. Hot air balloon rides that soar over saguaros, desert washes and scurrying coyotes. Jeep tours that plunge into rugged backcountry, proving the Wild West is still alive and well. If these attractions sound like experiences that would take hours to reach from some distant way station…think again. They are all located right in Scottsdale's scenic backyard, the storied Sonoran Desert.

Scottsdale possesses a natural advantage over other destinations because this sophisticated oasis is surrounded by a rich legacy of mountains, parks and wildlife, providing opportunities for urban adventure second to none. The result is that everyone from seasoned thrill-seeker to absolute novice can kick their adrenaline into overdrive with high-octane adventures as accessible as they are inviting. Following are just a few opportunities to experience Scottsdale's wild side.

Progress in Preservation
Scottsdale’s growth spurt in the ‘70s and ‘80s prompted a citizen initiated preservation effort which has resulted in a plan to protect nearly one-third of Scottsdale as the natural McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Today, this Preserve plays host to hikers, horseback riders and outdoor enthusiasts who delight in the region’s ancient Indian artifacts and wildlife like coyotes, Gila monsters, desert tortoises, chuckawallas, javelinas, deer and mountain lions. The Preserve will be managed to provide a sustainable habitat for the flora and fauna it contains for the enjoyment of this and all future generations. When complete, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve eventually will become one of the largest city-owned parks in the country, rivaled only by the desert parks that surround Phoenix.

Trails and Tours
With almost 100 miles of trails dedicated to horseback riding, biking and hiking, the path to adventure in Scottsdale is as simple as choosing your preferred form of transportation. Particular favorites include the McDowell Sonoran Preserve with more than 12,000 protected acres, Camelback Mountain, Pinnacle Peak Park and the Superstition Mountains. And when it comes to gear and guides, whether you are a hard-core backpacker seeking a peak experience or a casual mountain biker looking for a quick escape, you will find an abundance of qualified area outfitters, guides and experts to get you rolling on a group tour or going solo. Yet another advantage of having a guide in Scottsdale is their deep knowledge of area lore and natural history, giving visitors a complete Southwest experience.

Popular guided hikes and bike rides include Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain resort's treks up scenic Camelback Mountain and escorted hikes in the Tonto National Forest, and desert-style mountain bike rides offered by The Golden Door Spa at The Boulders Resort. For up-close vistas of soaring Pinnacle Peak, the Four Season Resort Scottsdale at Troon North offers hiking excursions, as does the City of Scottsdale, which has recently undertaken extensive trail enhancements. The park also features interpretive programs and trail signs describing the flora, fauna, geology, and cultural history of the area.

And lest we forget those who don't want to break a sweat, Jeep and Hummer tours are another option that puts guests right into the heart of Scottsdale’s deserts and mountains without getting their boots dusty. Guests can try their hand at Western ways, including gold panning, pistol shooting, chuck-wagon cookouts and more. The drivers are experts at pointing out the finer points of the desert's abundant plants and wildlife, including amazing facts about the towering saguaro cactus (they can absorb up to 200 gallons during a strong rain!) and plants with medicinal uses, such as snake broom.

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Saguaros stand like guardians over the land
Saguaros stand like guardians over the land

   
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Document Information
Source: magazineUSA.com; Scottsdale CVB
Last modified: 20060326
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