The best thing about Arizona is the outdoor activities. No one who lives in Arizona raves about the symphony, the arts, or the museums. People who live in (and visit) Arizona love the beautiful red canyon cliff walls of Sedona, the cool and clean pine forests of Flagstaff, or the spectacular vistas of the Grand Canyon. If you're not interested in hiking... better stay in Chicago.
When I was a young lad of three years old, my parents took me and my younger brother from the Chicago suburbs to the desert of Phoenix. This wonderful chance of fate has allowed me to grow up hiking all over Arizona and the southwest of the United States.
Later, as I grew up and married a wonderful woman, we enjoyed the benefits of hiking as well as mountain biking together.
For experienced hikers... skip this section. For novice and beginner hikers, this is mandatory reading. Hiking in Arizona can be deadly if simple precautions are not followed.
Water - In the Sonora Desert of Arizona, there are many hikes with little or no water. Make sure you bring sufficient water to last you the entire hike. Drink throughout the hike. Dehydration has killed it's fair share of hikers in Arizona.
Snacks - Power bars, fruits, nuts. Instant energy and easily digested foods are best. Eat throughout your hike to maintain your energy level. Hiking is a strenuous activity so be sure to maintain that energy by eating.
Sunscreen - Bring it. Use it. While rarely fatal, sunburns can be extremely painful. While you are at it, bring a hat too.
Clothes - Dress in layers, so if the morning is cold, you can peel down as the day warms up. Remember, you can always take clothing off and put it in your backpack. You can't put it on if you left it at home. You'll be exposed to a wide variety of weather patterns in Arizona. Be prepared.
Buddy - Bring a friend. Sometimes things don't go as planned. If you get injured, you'll be glad you did.
Shoes/Boots - Make sure they are well broken in before you try hiking on them. Your feet will thank you. When I was a kid, we used well worn tennis shoes... the important part being 'well worn'. A pair of well worn tennis shoes will beat a brand new $300 pair of hiking boots any day. There's some great hiking boots out there, just make sure you wear them for a while before taking them on the trail.
Flash Floods - Arizona has some of the prettiest slot canyons in the United States. While hiking in canyons is rewarding, it can be deadly in a flash flood. Check the weather before setting out. If it looks like rain, pick a different hike or do something else. Remember, it doesn't have to rain right above you to create a flash flood. Rains many miles away will have the same effect. The rainy season in Arizona peaks in the month of August. Be very careful planning hikes in slot canyons during this time.
Critters - Some critters are harmless and some are dangerous. Snakes and Scorpions abound in Arizona deserts. Tarantulas may look scary but don't pose a significant threat to hikers. Wild Boars, Elks, Bears, and Bulls can all be dangerous if not treated as such. Prairie Dogs, Skunks, and Chipmunks look really cute, but can all carry rabies. Be aware of your environment and you'll most likely be OK. Enjoy wildlife from a safe distance.
[The sleeping snake we surprised on our Poland Creek hike]
Know your limitations - Discretion is the better part of valor. If you're not in shape to scale to the top of Mount Humphries or climb to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, then don't. Listen to your body when your calves are screaming, your heart is pounding, and your head is spinning... something is wrong.
As a personal request, please...
* Pack out ALL your trash
* Leave Native American artifacts where you found them
* Stay on the trails
* Follow all National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and State Park Service signs and regulations
This will be greatly appreciated by the next hikers and by your children, when you take them to enjoy these hikes later.
For a great book on the dangers of hiking in the Grand Canyon, see the Suggested Reading section of this site.
I'm not a big fan of lawyers, so I'll make this brief. It isn't our fault if you hurt yourself while hiking one of the adventures on this site. Hiking is about adventure and risk. If you want to be safe all your life, stay home and watch television.
Also, not everything on this site is exact. Things change and these changes may not be reflected. We try our best... but what do you expect for free?
This site is not affiliated in any way with the National Park Service, The Bureau of Land Management, or the State Park Service... although we're big fans of all three.