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There’s no need to go abroad when you can find adventure in your own backyard! Get inspired to #HikeYourHomeState with guides to all 50 US states – starting with Arizona!
The Grand Canyon State needs little introduction when it comes to scenic vistas. The state is famous for its sprawling mesas, deep canyons and incredible sandstone formations in bright orange and red colors.
And while Arizona might seem like an inhospitable desert, the state boasts many scenic hiking trails and amazing natural sites that are waiting to be explored. In my guide, I’m going to give you an overview of some of the best hiking in Arizona that should be on your list!
10 Best Places to Go Hiking in Arizona
So many hikes, so little time! Whether you’re visiting for a short trip or an extended stay, these ten must-do hikes should be on your Arizona bucket list!
1. Havasu Falls in Havasu Creek
Arizona’s crown jewel, Grand Canyon National Park, is one of the busiest national parks in the United States one of the most popular day trips from Las Vegas. Millions of tourists from all over the world descend on Grand Canyon every year to see the remarkable sights of this national park.
But with over 1.2 million acres, Grand Canyon is also one of the largest national parks in the US, which makes it tough to pick the best hikes, especially if you only have a few days.
One of the most beautiful places in Grand Canyon is called Havasu Falls (or Beaver Falls). This incredible turquoise waterfall is located in Havasu Creek within the territory of the Havasupai Tribe.
The hike to the falls is about five miles from the Supai Village. Although these falls are a bit tough to access, the journey is well worth the effort, as you will be rewarded with an amazing view of the turquoise water against the orange rock. The round trip to Havasu Falls takes between five and seven hours on average.
The regulations by Havasupai Tribe state that visitors to Havasupai and Havasu Falls need a reservation before their visit. You should obtain a permit ahead of your visit if you plan on doing this hike.
2. Sedona – West Fork of Oak Creek
West Fork of Oak Creek is often called one of the best hikes in the Sedona area.
This iconic hike will take you along the deep canyon covered with trees and other forms of vegetation. The hike is accessible year-round (except a few weeks in spring when the snow starts melting) and is just over three miles long.
However, Sedona is one of the most scenic places for hiking in Arizona, and since it’s located just a bit over an hour south of Grand Canyon’s South Rim, it makes for a perfect stop along your Arizona itinerary. When you visit Sedona, make sure to check other scenic hikes such as Soldiers Pass Trail, Courthouse Butte Loop Trail, and Devil’s Bridge Trail.
Light beams in Antelope Canyon
3. Antelope Canyon
A small town in northern Arizona, Page has quickly become a tourist magnet for people all over the world because of its jaw-dropping slot canyons and orange landscapes.
Some of the most popular places to visit in Page are Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, and Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon. And while most people spend about a day or two in Page before moving to other destinations in the region, there are a couple of things you should know about Antelope Canyon.
Because of its popularity, Page has become a bit crowded in recent years.
While Antelope Canyon is no doubt an otherworldly place, you should plan your visit carefully to make sure you get the best experience – this Antelope Canyon guide will help you to plan your trip and avoid some of the worst mistakes that tourists often make.
4. Camelback Mountain Trail – Phoenix
One of the most popular hikes in the Phoenix area, Camelback Mountain gets its name from its unique shape.
Located in the Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation Area between the cities of Phoenix and Scottsdale, this trail is a perfect place to get some good workout.
The hike has an elevation of 2,704 feet and opens amazing views on the entire Phoenix Valley.
Saguaro cacti in Arizona
5. Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park is home to saguaro cacti, the largest species of cacti in the United States.
Saguaro cactus is an unspoken symbol of the American Southwest, and this alone should be a reason to visit this national park near Tucson. However, Saguaro National Park also has over 160 miles of hiking trails that span two districts, Saguaro West and Saguaro East.
While hiking here might be a bit too hot in summer, this is a perfect place to catch some sunshine and relax from late fall through early spring.
6. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – Estes Canyon Loop Trail
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is home to the incredible piece of the Sonoran Desert.
This national park sits in southern part of Arizona that shares a border with Mexico, and it protects over 500 square miles of the desert habitat and is home to the beautiful Organ Pipe cactus and many other incredible desert plants and animals.
But besides the stunning desert landscapes, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument also has many trails.
One of the best trails within the monument is the beautiful Estes Canyon Loop Trail that opens incredible views of the rugged Sonoran Desert. In spring, you can enjoy the singing of the birds and photograph the beautiful desert wildflowers.
The hike begins at the Bull Pasture Trail before taking you to the Ajo Mountains where you can get incredible panoramic views stretching into Mexico.
Sunset at the Grand Canyon
7. Flagstaff – The Inner Basin Trail
The gateway to Grand Canyon, Flagstaff has many hiking trails and beautiful overlooks, so don’t rush to dismiss it just as a town where you can crash at your hotel after visiting the Grand Canyon.
One of the best hikes in Flagstaff is the Inner Basin Trail which begins at Lockett Meadow and leads you into the heart of the dormant volcano. The best part about this hike is that although it’s relatively easy and suitable even for beginner hikers, it provides some pretty incredible views of aspens, green grass, and mountains.
8. Tucson – Seven Falls Trail
One of the most popular hikes near Tucson, Seven Falls Trail is relatively easy and it boasts gorgeous views of the Sonoran Desert and seven waterfalls that flow most of the year. The hike is rated as moderate because of the over 8-mile distance and several crossings through the creek.
You don’t need to be an advanced hiker to explore the Seven Falls Trail in Tucson’s Sabino Canyon. While it might be a bit too hot to do this hike in summer, spring and late winter in the southern part of Arizona offer plenty of sunshine and comfortable temperatures to get on this trail.
Hiking through Antelope Canyon
9. Vermillion Cliffs National Monument – The Wave
There’s a chance you’ve already seen photos of Vermillion Cliffs’ most notable feature, the bright-orange wave, a beautiful sandstone formation along the Arizona/Utah border.
Hikers who want to see this natural gem are required to obtain a special permit. Because the site has become so popular with travelers from all over the world, only 20 people are allowed to access The Wave at a time.
On top of the super-competitive selection process, the trail that leads to The Wave is far from easy. The hike is just over 5 miles and is rated as moderate. A portion of the trail is cross-country, so you need to have at least basic navigation sills and a detailed map.
10. Prescott – Flume Trail and Watson Lake Loop
The trail loops around Watson Lake and for the most part, it follows the lakeshore. Located within the Watson Lake Park, this hike is pretty easy and it features many cool rock formations and a beautiful lake.
Driving into Monument Valley
Easiest Hikes in Arizona
One of Arizona’s often-overlooked places, Petrified Forest National Park is located along the far-eastern side of the state not far from neighboring New Mexico.
Although it lacks the tourist crowds of more popular places, the Petrified Forest boasts wonderful natural landscapes. If you are looking for a scenic and easy hike, try Blue Mesa Trail which brings you along with the remarkable collection of fossils and colorful badlands.
The iconic Monument Valley also features some of the easiest hiking in Arizona. It’s is one of the symbols of the southwest, featured in countless movies, music videos and commercials, and many visitors spend multiple days exploring this fascinating place that is so rich in history.
The only hike in Monument Valley that doesn’t require a Navajo guide is White House Trail. It’s a 3.9-mile heavily trafficked loop close to Monument Valley that is rated as moderate. The trail loops around West Mitten Butte and passes close to other prominent rock formations in the area.
Hiking in Arizona comes with canyons, red rocks, and lots of wide open spaces
Toughest Hikes in Arizona
Humphreys Peak near Flagstaff is an adventure for serious hikers only. This 9-mile round-trip hike will take you to the summit of Humphrey’s and back.
Located just 11 miles north of Flagstaff, this hike begins at the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort. With an elevation of over 12,600 feet, it’s the highest in a group of dormant volcanoes called the San Francisco Peaks and the highest in the entire state of Arizona.
Think Arizona is all desert and cacti? Wrong!
Head south of Tucson toward the city called Green Valley and you will find another one of the toughest hikes in Arizona leading to the top of Mount Wrightson.
While the trail is pretty steep and challenging, it will take you between 8-10 hours to climb to the peak that sits at the elevation of 9,453 feet.
Best Time to Go Hiking in Arizona
If you have never hiked in the desert, there are several things that you should be aware of before hiking in Arizona.
First, the desert can get unbearably hot during summer months, making hiking not only unenjoyable but also dangerous to hike from May until mid-September. This is especially evident in tourist hot spots such as the Grand Canyon where at least a couple of people are rescued every year because of underestimating the dangers of the high desert temperatures.
So, if you plan on exploring the southern part of Arizona, which includes Phoenix and everything south of it, it’s better to plan your trip for late fall through mid-spring. Northern Arizona gets snow in winter and while it has slightly milder temperatures, you should still take some precautions.
Whether you plan your trip for summer, spring or winter, you should always have enough water and electrolytes with you. Don’t underestimate the desert and always stay hydrated!
How much water is enough?
That depends on the length of your hike.
But even when you drink plenty of water, you might still experience dehydration during hot summer months. Some of the symptoms might involve blurred vision, stumbling on trail, headache or dizziness. If that occurs, you should immediately turn around or find some shade to take a break.
Montezuma Castle National Monument
More Notable Natural Sites in Arizona
Located in northeastern Arizona, Canyon De Chelly National Monument sits within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation.
This stunning natural site features amazing red plateaus, scenic hiking trails, and incredible canyons. Besides being a wonderful outdoor destination, it also has over 5,000 years of history of Native American tribes who once lived here.
Finally, don’t miss Arizona’s famous cliff dwellings. Home to a set of ancient dwellings in Camp Verde, Montezuma Castle National Monument is one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in all of North America. Although this is not a hiking destination, it’s worth visiting because of its history.
The Discovery Nut is a travel blog focused on adventurous destinations around the world. Daria created The Discovery Nut to share her favorite places with the audience and to encourage everyone to get out of their comfort zone and explore more. If it’s a scenic destination with gorgeous nature and amazing culture, it surely sounds like a Discovery Nut kind of place!
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There’s no need to go abroad when you can find adventure in your own backyard! Plan a day trip to the top hikes on this list or browse Airbnbs for a spontaneous weekend away to explore a new corner of your home state.
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