With sunny skies year-round, Scottsdale is an ideal place to try your hand at some new activity or sport that has been on your bucket list. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try canyoneering? Or explore the desert by mountain bike? This is desert country, but you can also find spots to go standup paddleboarding in Scottsdale. If golfing is your thing, take a swing on the area’s many renowned golf courses. Whatever your sport or desired activity level, Scottsdale is the perfect destination for the traveler with a taste for adventure.
Test your balance with stand-up paddleboarding on a half-day trip on the Lower Salt River.
Carl Grupp of Camelback Odyssey Travel in Scottsdale has more than 20 years of hands-on experience in luxury travel planning and a proven track record in exceeding client expectations. Few travel consultants know Scottsdale better than Carl, who can customize this itinerary around your interests for a truly bespoke vacation.
Photo By Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
Check in to Your Scottsdale Home
Make your way from the airport to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. While the next five days may include moments of testing your bravery as you experience the unfamiliar, you’ll return each evening to a resort where you can truly relax. This AAA five-diamond resort has six pools, four restaurants, two 18-hole golf courses, and rooms with views of Sonoran Desert landscapes. It’s an ideal oasis for your adventurous getaway, with options to be active or do nothing at all during your time on property.
Explore the Desert Canyons
Canyoneering involves hiking, scrambling up canyons on foot, rappelling, and hopping from boulder to boulder. The sport may sound intimidating, but 360 Adventures makes this activity accessible to newcomers. You’ll head out on a full-day adventure to one of the desert gorges near Scottsdale. 360 Adventures has exclusive access to many of the best spots.
Because many of these canyons aren’t located on public hiking trails, you’ll have a chance to commune with the desert like a local. Note that while no previous canyoneering experience is required, this is a full-day activity and a good fitness level is required. Also, canyoneering trip participants must be at least 14 years old (though children from 10 to 13 can be accommodated on private trips).
Photo By Scott McGinty for Experience Scottsdale
Pedal and Swing Your Way Through Scottsdale
Rise early to explore the Sonoran Desert in the cool of the morning on a half-day mountain biking adventure with Arizona Outback Adventures. Most of the outfitter’s trips take you to the McDowell Mountain Regional Park, where you’ll get a unique perspective on the awesome juxtaposition of mountain and desert landscape that makes Scottsdale so special.
Covering the entire southern half of Arizona and parts of California and Mexico, the Sonoran Desert is a unique eco-system with fascinating flora, fauna, and geological formations. Exploring it by mountain bike lets you get up close and personal with the landscape. Outback Adventures’ half-day tours are open to riders of all abilities. Serious riders will want to extend their stay and check out the area’s many challenging trails.
In the afternoon, you’ll get your clubs ready for a round of golf at one of the 185 courses in the Phoenix area. The 36-hole TPC Scottsdale courses offer stunning panoramic views of the McDowell Mountains, as well as classes to help you perfect your form. Experienced golfers will appreciate playing at Arizona’s professional golf headquarters and the home of two championship courses. You’ll be feeling like a PGA pro in no time!
Photo By Ryan Cordwell for Experience Scottsdale
Stand-up Paddleboarding in a Desert Oasis
If you have yet to try stand-up paddleboarding, a half-day adventure on the Lower Salt River with Arizona Outback Adventures is the perfect way to try the relaxing yet challenging sport. While stand-up paddleboarding has been praised as a full-body aerobic workout, it’s also a peaceful way to explore the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert as you paddle along the river. You’ll have a unique perspective on the ecosystems of this desert oasis, with no noisy motors to scare away the birdlife on the river’s shores.
In the afternoon, spend some time by one of the Fairmont’s pools. You have more than earned some downtime to relax and recharge.
Photo By Halie Sutton for Experience Scottsdale
By day five, you likely have fallen for the charms of Scottsdale and the Sonoran Desert, and may find yourself reluctant to leave. You don’t have to—this itinerary could be extended with kayaking, rafting, and multi-day hiking and backpacking trips. If you do have to return to the grind of daily life, the desert will be waiting for the next time you are ready to get back in touch with your sporty side.