AZ Golf Trip Guide

Camelback Mountain

One of the most popular hikes in the valley - the mountain is shaped like the torso of a camel and takes up a lot of central Scottsdale. Incredible views and it is so worth it when you get to the top. It can be strenuous and is not recommended if you are afraid of heights or out of shape, but it's a kick-ass workout. Takes about 2+ hours to finish. Huge area up top with lots of spots to sit and take in the views. Two different trails to enter on…

  • Cholla Trail - regarded as the easier side because it's less steep and takes longer to walk up as it slowly wraps up the mountain, however, the last 20% of the hike is serious climbing over rocks to get to the top. If you are a beginner hiker, I recommend doing this side and stopping whenever you are comfortable, as it's usually less crowded, and there are a lot of points to stop and turn around.

Trailhead parking at 5150 N Invergordon Rd.

  • Echo Trail-Definitely the more popular side, this is technically the shorter trail because half of it you go straight up instead of back and forth. The trail starts off with a long metal pole to grab onto while you climb up a steep section of rock and then slowly scale to the top (super similar to a stair-master workout climbing on top of big rocks).

Trailhead parking at 5700 N Echo Canyon Drive.

Drinking water and restrooms at both trailheads, no dogs allowed.

More info

Climb Camelback

Visit Phoenix

Piestawa Peak

Slightly easier and less crowded than Camelback. Located just east of Phoenix and 15-20 min from central Scottsdale. An incline walk up to the mountain peak on gravel and uneven rocks, with the second half of the hike being more difficult and more pointed rocks to step over and up. To get to the tippy top, it's climbing over some jagged boulders. Finding a place to sit up there is limited, but it's another gorgeous panoramic view of the valley. Takes about an hour and a half to finish. If you don't want to do something as steep, check out the Dreamy Draw trails below – many people go bike riding on these.

Trailhead parking at 2701 E Squaw Peak Dr.

Drinking water and restrooms here, no dogs allowed.

More info

Visit Phoenix


A city park just west of Old Town with pretty red rock formations! There are several easy-to-moderate hikes at Papago for all levels. Papago Park surrounds the golf course, the Phoenix Zoo, and the Botanical Gardens. There are a lot of walking and bike paths that wind through it and many places to park, with shelters and ponds on the east side of the park. Great place to walk your dog!

  • Hole In the Rock - This is a super short walk up to Papago's red rock formation that has a giant gap with a great view. A lot of people go up at sunset and sit inside the rock. Plenty of paths around it if you want to keep walking.

Trailhead parking at 625 N Galvin Pkwy

(Or keep going to the small parking lot directly in front of the trail-tends to fill up quickly, though).

Restrooms and drinking water throughout, dogs allowed.

  • Running path that you can take up to an easy hike- I have parked here many times to walk/run the path here! It’s a labeled 5k loop, with markers and different exercise stations with bars/instructions along the way. Goes around the golf course, and you can cut off at the first half mile to hike up one of the smaller red hills or break off into one of the dirt paths anytime.

Trailhead parking at West Buttes Parking Lot

No restrooms, but has a drinking fountain, dogs allowed.

  • Former governor's grave/Canal - This is close to the Hole in the Rock, and the short path takes you up to a white pyramid that is the grave of the First Governor of Arizona. Great view of the park and the city from up here, and sometimes you can even peek over into the zoo and see the giraffes. If you follow the path down to the right when coming down from the grave, it takes you to the canal. The canal has a marked flat path that follows it either all the way down to Tempe Town Lake (if you take it to the south) or all the way up to Old Town (if you take it to the north). I love biking and walking next to the canal!

Trailhead parking at 625 W Galvin Pkwy.

Restrooms and drinking water throughout, dogs allowed.

More info

Visit Phoenix

“A” Mountain

Technically called Hayden Butte, but yes, everyone calls it “A” Mountain of the huge metal A placed on the side. Located right in Tempe off of Mill Avenue, it's a quick hike but with great views. The first portion of the hike is a straight, intense incline walk off up pavement, followed by stepping up rocks next to a railing to the top. Great views of ASU's campus, Papago, Phoenix, and Camelback Mountain. For more of a workout, do it several times or walk down to Tempe Town Lake.

Trailhead parking at 100 S Mill Ave.

No restrooms or drinking water at the trailhead, dogs allowed.

More info

Tempe Tourism

South Mountain

This is the mountain range that lines the south side of the valley for a different point of view. There are many paths to hike, but here are the most popular.

  • Telegraph Pass Trail
  • Hidden Valley Trail
  • Mormon Trailhead
  • Pima Canyon Trailhead
  • Mountain Park Ranch
  • Holbert Trail to Dobbins Lookout - takes you to a cobblestone structure that looks out over the whole valley.

Trailhead parking info - Visit Phoenix

Restrooms available, dogs allowed on all South Mountain trails.

Gateway Trailhead

This trail in North Scottsdale, located off of Thompson Peak, with views of the McDowell Mountains. It can be as easy or as hard as you want! There is a small loop at the beginning of the trail that goes circles around cacti and vegetation. The main trail takes you up slowly into the base of the McDowell. It's a moderate hike with minimal climbing, however you can go to the extreme and do the 13-mile round-trip track up to Tom's Thumb and back.

Trailhead parking at 8333 N Thompson Peak Pkwy.

Water and restrooms at the trailhead, dogs allowed.

More info

McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Tom's Thumb

This is my absolute favorite!!! It's about 45 minutes from Central Scottsdale, but it's so worth it. Located on the northern outskirts of town, and there are barely any houses by the base of the mountain (just a few mansions). There are a few different trails and paths you can take, but I highly recommend the path marked to the thumb peak. Start at the main trailhead and follow the signs. Starts out with an incline walk on dirt that switches back up to the top shelf of the mountain (the first 30 minutes are the hardest cardio-wise, it gets easier from there). You then travel to the back through the huge boulder piles and grassy mounds. The “thumb” is the endpoint and way bigger in person! Great views of the valley and the mountain ranges to the north. Go to The Thumb barbecue spot afterward on Bell Road,

Trailhead parking at 12943 E Paraiso Dr.

Restrooms are available, no drinking water, dogs allowed.

More info

McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Brown's Mountain/granite Mountain/fraesfield/pima Dynamite Trail

Located near Cave Creek off of Pima Rd. The cool thing about these trails is that they all interconnect with each other. You can easily make the hike as easy or as hard as you want to. You'll see Brown's Mountain with a flat top (the hike to the top of this one is a good workout!), Granite Mountain with a pointy top, and views of Pinnacle Peak and McDowell Mountains. Most of the trails are relatively flat/easy to do, and many people take their bikes out here.

Pima Dynamite trailhead parking at 28777 N Pima Rd.

Restrooms and drinking water here, dogs allowed.

Fraesfiled trailhead parking at 13400 E Rio Verde Dr. (love this one, has a great view of Four Peaks!)

Restrooms here, no drinking water, dogs allowed.

Granite Mountain trailhead parking at 31402 N 136th St.

Restrooms here, no drinking water, dogs allowed.

Brown's Mountain trailhead parking at 30301 Alma School Rd.

Restrooms and drinking water here, dogs allowed.

More info

Scottsdale Preserve Map

Pinnacle Peak

This is a moderate hiking trail located in North Scottsdale. It's planted right in the middle of Estancia neighborhood, but it has great scenery of all of the valley (and the exclusive Estancia Club right below!). No climbing is involved, and it's an in-and-out trail that goes up and around Pinnacle Peak (a mountain that looks pointy). The huge cacti are cool to look at.

Trailhead parking at 26802 N 102nd Way.

Restrooms and drinking water here, no dogs allowed.

More info

Pinnacle Peak Park

Superstition Mountain

This is a drive from the valley (about an hour) but SO worth it. Favorites here are...

  • Lost Dutchman Trail - Thisstarts off relatively easy, going up toward the Superstition Mountains. Treasure Trail and Siphon Draw connect and loop. You slowly start to get higher and higher the more you go toward the craggy Superstition Mountain range. You can branch off and go up into the canyon over huge rocks. This will get harder the farther you go up - the Siphon Draw Trail eventually goes all the way to Flatiron (be prepared for extreme climbing-6 total miles!). Or you can branch off to the left and go around the mountain. Leads you to a flat ledge with great views to the west.

Trailhead parking at The Lost Dutchman State Park, 6109 N Apache Trail.

Drinking water and restroom here, dogs allowed.

More info

Lost Dutchman State Park

  • Peralta Trailhead to Weaver's Needle - This is a super cool hike! It is a total workout of 6 miles total. You have to drive on a really bumpy dirt road to get to this one. You start off by walking through some bushes before you start the real hike. You'll be going up and around the rocks at an incline until you reach the Flattop. Almost there! Keep going up the Flattop, and you'll be rewarded with a sick view of Weaver's Needle and Four Peaks in the background. You can keep going out to the point and chill for a few under the trees. Go to Joyride Tacos in Gilbert afterward to reward yourself.

Trailhead parking at Peralta Rd, click here for the actual parking location.

Restrooms available, no drinking water. Dogs allowed.

  • THE WAVE CAVE - One of the coolest natural caves with the best view of the Superstition Wilderness! It's a moderate hike with some loose rocks and more difficult the last quarter of the trail and more climbing to get up to the cave. About 3.5 miles in total.

Trailhead parking at Carney Springs Trailhead

No water or restrooms, dogs allowed.

More info

All Trails Wave Cave

Trip Advisor - Wave Cave

More Great Outdoors

Lakes & Rivers

Tempe Town Lake

  • Right in between the neighborhoods of Scottsdale and Phoenix is Tempe Town Lake! It feeds from the Salt River out east and connects to a dam.
  • It's almost 3 miles all the way around, with biking and walking paths and a pedestrian bridge to connect to the other side.
  • There are boats, paddle boards, bikes, and pedal boat rentals available. You can book in person or online here.
  • Surrounded by ASU's campus, downtown Mill Avenue, A Mountain, and luxury office buildings and apartments - all within walking distance.
  • Many events, festivals, and concerts are hosted here! Check Tempe Tourism for updates.
  • No swimming is allowed at Tempe Town Lake- but it is still an awesome spot to get a workout in and soak in the sun.
AZ Golf Trip Guide

Salt River

  • A beautiful spot to take your kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards! The full route took me about 3.5 hours to kayak.
  • You must purchase a Tonto National Park day pass ($8) before entering. Can also buy at several gas stations close to the river.
  • The river stretches almost 8 miles, and the route starts at N Bush Highway. There are 6 stops to park and start at (Water Users, Blue Point, Goldfield, Coon Bluff, Phon D Sutton, and Granite Reef).
  • Keep in mind if you start at the Water User's lot at the beginning and end at any of the lots downstream, you will need to eventually get back to your car that you parked at…you can use the Salt River Tube Bus Service or take two cars and have one person park upstream and one person park at the last lot at the end.
  • Salt River Tubing is super popular, especially in the warmer months. It does get pretty crowded, and it is a LONG DAY, so come prepared with water, snacks, sunscreen, and a cooler or container to protect your phone and other items.
  • There is plenty of amazing scenery and wild horses that hang out along the river!!! I've kayaked right next to these horses, and they are so beautiful to see!

Saguaro Lake

  • This lake feeds right into the Salt River and is surrounded by cliffs and the scenery of Four Peaks.
  • The Saguaro Lake Marina offers boat rentals and fishing supplies.
  • You can take a cruise on The Desert Belle ship - they have several educational, wine/beer, and dinner cruises you can hop on!
  • Saguaro Lake Ranch has cottages available with horseback riding, tubing, and kayaking activities.

Canyon Lake

  • This lake takes about an hour to get to Scottsdale, but it is so worth it…beautiful high canyons surround it.
  • The Canyon Lake Marina has boat rentals and campground sites with water and electricity.
  • You can sight see and take a dinner cruise on the Dolly Steamboat (includes an astronomy cruise and a wildlife cruise, too!).
  • The Boulder Canyon Trail 103 surrounds the lake and has some super scenic hiking paths.
  • You MUST go to the Tortilla Flat Saloon while in the area - saddle bar stools and dollar bills all over the way, need I say more?!

Lake Pleasant

  • One of the bigger lakes that has everything - boating, fishing, stargazing, watersports, hiking, scuba diving, a discovery nature center, and more.
  • The Scorpion Bay Marina has a restaurant, boat rentals, and you can even rent a floating cabin on the water!
  • Paqua Park is the floating inflatable playground they have- I am a grown adult, and this still looks so lit.
  • Hiking trails of all levels surround the lake.

Bartlett Lake

Activity Tours

REI Co-Op offers guided bike, kayaking, rafting, and adventure tours, with half and full days available.

Riverbound Sports has a shop with all your watersports needs, rentals, lessons, and special events every month.

Arizona Rafting offers insane Salt River rafting tours for half-day, full-day, and even multiple-day/camping excursions.

AZ ATV tours are top-rated and take you through the valley all the way up to Lake Pleasant.

Desert Dog has sand buggy, Jeep, Bronco, and ATV excursions through the Sonoran Desert (their sunset tour past east of Fountain Hills is a whole vibe).

Desert Monsters, Stellar Adventures (they offer beer and wine tasting tours!), and Desert Wolf Tours (has a machine gun off-road adventure option and shooting range) are other awesome adventure tours that can also accommodate big groups and events.

Hot air balloon rides are a thrilling way to see the entire valley from high above!

Hot Air Expeditions offers a great experience with a champagne brunch.

Rainbow Ryders is also top-rated and has options for a sunset or sunrise ride.

YeeHaw Cowboy Life

MacDonald Ranch in north Scottsdale offers horseback rides, cowboy cookouts, hayrides, and a petting zoo.

Stay at Wickenburg Ranch Rancho de los Cabelleros (located about an hour and 15 minutes from Scottsdale) and pick from horseback riding, archery, nature guides, skeet shooting, hot air balloon, and many other activities! You can play golf at their highly acclaimed course (even has a lighted par 3 course) and choose a romance, multi-activity, or authentic ranching experience package.

Arizona Horseback Adventures has several guided horseback rides and back-country riding through Cave Creek and Tonto National Forest.

Cave Creek Outfitters has a unique “Cowhand” adventure package and “Trail Boss” package along with their ATV/UTV rentals through McDowell Mountains/Sonoran mountains.

Ponderosa Stables is located near South Mountain in south Phoenix - they have breakfast, lunch, AND dinner tours through the mountains with a restaurant location.

Saguaro Lake Ranch Stables takes you on horseback rides along the Salt River and Bulldog Cliffs - this is where you are most likely to see the wild horses and cows that live along the lake and river.


AZ Golf Trip Guide

Kierland and the Quarter

Located up north off of Frank Lloyd Wright, this is the prettiest and nicest outdoor shopping center, in my opinion. Lined with tall palm trees and pretty lights at night.

On the Quarter side (to the east of Scottsdale Rd), there is The Apple Store, Lululemon, Urban Outfitters, Pottery Barn, Drybar, and West Elm, to name a few.

To get over to the Kierland side (on the west side of Scottsdale Rd), it's an easy walk through a stoplight crosswalk with all the other shoppers. The Kierland side has Crate and Barrel, Victoria's Secret, Anthropologie, Johnnie O, and others.

OMG, NOT TO MENTION…the dining options here are insane. Grab a yummy breakfast at Snooze, a healthy lunch at True Food Kitchen, a quick cheeseburger at Shake Shack, happy hour at Sorso Wine Room, or tacos at SOL Mexican Cocina. All the high-end options – Dominick's, Obon, Etta (rumored that the Kardashians rented this out during Superbowl weekend), Morton's the Steakhouse, The Mission, and Mastro's.

Parking on the street is always crowded (with Lambos and Maseratis, may I add).

I recommend the (free) parking garage at 15323 N Scottsdale Rd.

I love hitting the Lululemon store and grabbing a coffee at Press on the Quarter side!


The Quarter

Fashion Square

Shopping mall right in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale. Nice center with all the boujee luxury shops (Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, etc.) and your go-to favorites. It does get crowded, however. I usually skip the shopping and go to Kona Grill for their bomb happy hour instead. Also, a close walk to Culinary Dropout, Maple and Ash, Yard House, and Olive and Ivy.

Fashion Square

Anthem Outlets

These are your typical outlets, but they are the best ones in town, and people take a long drive to Anthem to find all kinds of deals.

Anthem Outlets

Old Town Scottsdale

If you walk around the unique cluster of bars and restaurants in Old Town Scottsdale, you'll find a ton of Western wear shops, vintage stores, and cute boutiques. I'm not giving any specific stores because there are so many, and it's fun to stumble upon a hidden find. Great place to find a special gift. It has an old-time Western vibe to it, with lively spots to eat and drink at. The streets have hanging lights over them and are perfect to take cute pictures.

Old Town Scottsdale

Cave Creek + Carefree

This is one of the most unique towns to stroll and browse in. It's kind of spread out, so you may have to drive from place to place. But there are a ton of Western gift shops – jewelry, shoes, cowboy hats, and even art. You'll pass by Miguel Camarena Art Gallery on the north side of Cave Creek Rd- you can spot the vibrant paintings from the street (my friend bought the sickest painting of Sedona canyons here). Mexicana Rose is one of the coolest furniture/decor stores I've ever been in, with its incredible onyx goods. Rare Earth Gallery has these massive (AND EXPENSIVE, BUT MAYBE ONE DAY) crystals and amazing, unique jewelry. Drive all along Cave Creek road, it winds through both towns of Cave Creek and Carefree, and is fun to pop in at the different shops along the way.

Downtown Phoenix

I wish I went down here more often - Downtown Phoenix is so hip and has many local boutiques ranging from boujee, to artsy, to sporty.

Check out this list for a curated shopping guide to downtown PHX.

On the first Friday of every month, downtown Phoenix closes several streets off for a free event of art vendors, food and drink, music, and many other local shops and businesses. Roosevelt Row and Grande Avenue Arts districts are the two main sections to see, however, there are many different events going on each month. This first Friday is getting to be super popular! Read about it here.



Photo by Desert Botanical Garden

Desert Botanical Garden is a 140-acre garden in the middle of Papago Park with walking trails, a butterfly pavilion, a garden shop, and gorgeous plants and flowers to look at. This is a super lively conservation area - they have so many weekly events going on and an amazing farm-to-table dining option at Gertrude's and the Patio. They host food festivals, concerts, and you can even walk through the lighted garden during their annual light show at Christmastime. Highly recommend!

Some cool art museums to peruse…

Phoenix Art Museum

Wonderspaces Arizona

Scottsdale Museum of the West

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

The Phoenix Zoo and Odyssey Aquarium are great family-friendly spots and fun for all ages.

Spas and Pools

(Photo by the Phoenician Spa and Resort)

Scottsdale is known for its luxurious and relaxing spas!

Here are some of the top-rated ones…

Joya Spa at Omni Scottsdale

The Phoenician Spa (world-ranked!)

The Spa at Camelback Inn

Well & Being Spa at the Fairmont


The Boulders Spa

The Spa at Hyatt Gainey Ranch

Not staying at a resort? You can still access plenty of the best pools in town!

Most resorts offer cabanas and pool beds to rent out for the day, with many having weekend pool parties.

Check out ResortPass - The easiest way to check out the reviews and book a pool day pass or reserve a cabana.

Spring Training

(Photo by the Phoenician Spa and Resort)

Spring Training for the MLB, also known as the Cactus League, is a huge party every year! The baseball games go on all over town for a month, around the end of February to the end of March.

Tickets can be bought online at MLB.com or various event ticket sites. Buy in advance as the prices do go up closer to the games (the joke used to be that beer was more expensive than a spring training ticket…not anymore, the word is out!).

Teams include …

  • Diamondbacks
  • Cubs
  • White Sox
  • Padres
  • Reds
  • Guardians
  • Royals
  • Rockies
  • Angels
  • Dodgers
  • Brewers
  • Athletics
  • Giants
  • Mariners
  • Rangers


Even if you don't golf, this place is so fun to go to with friends. You get an awesome view of the lit-up Talking Stick Resort and the mountains beyond. Their menu is actually pretty good, and they have a huge bar to sit at while you wait for a bay and TVS all around, so you don't miss any sports…

  • It can get pretty busy in here - I've had to wait 2+ hours for a bay. Book ahead online or pop over to Talking Stick Casino while you wait.
  • You can bring your own clubs, but just don't….you will be judged. They have men's, women's, and junior clubs available.
  • Branch out and try the Angry Birds game for something different and try to knock down “blocks” as targets!

Bike Rentals

(Photo by the Phoenician Spa and Resort)

There are so many bike paths and parks to ride a bike through, not to mention mountain biking! It's pretty easy to take your bike into town and park it at a local shop or restaurant.

The park system that stretches all the way from Tempe to North Scottsdale is a wonderful, flat, paved trail. This trail also leads to the canal system that can go all the way to Phoenix. Check out the City of Scottsdale's Bike and Trail Map.

There are plenty of bicycle rentals out here.

These places are all great and will give you recommendations on where to take your bike ride!

Dream Dealers

Looking to kick your golf trip up a notch or host a kick-ass party? Dream Dealers is a group of professional in-house casino and bartending staff that are mobile and host poker nights, charity events, corporate parties, and more. Great for big groups and if you want to bring the fun of gambling to your own space. Lots of golf tourists in the valley coming here for a trip use this company, and if you're a local looking for something different for your special occasion, this is a great idea.

Arizona Sports to Watch

Want some live sports to watch? We have a ton of professional and college teams to watch!

Our NBA team, the Phoenix Suns, plays at the Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix.

Our WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury, also plays at the Footprint Center.

The Arizona Cardinals play in Glendale

Arizona Coyotes NHL team plays at the ASU hockey arena in Tempe.

Arizona State University is right in town in Tempe. Their football stadium is built into A Mountain, and games are always a good time! Check out their soccer, baseball, softball, and golf tournaments too (the ASU golf team practices at its multimillion-dollar facility at Papago GC).

GCU near downtown Phoenix has the ROWDIEST college basketball games ever!

Pro Golf

Photo by the Cactus Tour

Obviously, the Waste Management Phoenix Open is the biggest event of the year in Scottsdale (check out my WMPO tab).

There are a ton of other professional golf events to attend and support, as the Scottsdale area is a hotbed for pro golfers of all levels.

- The Monday Qualifiers for the WMPO are great to watch, as the top finishers will get to exemption into the tournament. Lots of former PGA cardholders and the top mini-tour players in the world play in this. Check out this article that sums it up.

- The Cactus Tour and Outlaw Tour are both women's and men's professional mini-tours that are based in the area. It's fun to go watch these future stars compete up close and grind on their game. Support of these players is always appreciated (being a former mini-tour player myself), and many look for housing, caddy, and practice facilities opportunities while they're here.

Check out this article for a good look into these.