4 Reasons to Visit Arizona
Despite being in the Sonoran Desert, southern Arizona is far from barren. It’s home to around 5 million cacti, and while you’ll want to avoid the fuzzy jumping cholla, which attaches itself to you at the slightest touch, the majestic saguaros can grow up to 40ft and live for 250 years. Join a sunrise hike up Camelback Mountain outside Scottsdale, which takes about three hours. As well as taking in the incredible vistas at the 2,700ft-high summit, there’s an almost needle-less saguaro you can hug on your way down.
Go downtown for some artistic wonders. Thursday is ArtWalk, where Scottsdale’s dozens of art galleries showcase the best of the South West. You’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time, with horse-drawn carriages in the streets and fountains in quaint courtyards. After, head to FnB for family-sytle sharing plates, you will leave feeling full. Stock up on souvenirs, like jewellery, quirky cosmetics bags and pick up eco-friendly gifts for kids at Zoolikins.
A great way to see Arizona is from 5000ft up. Get up before the sun rise on a 5am trip over the desert, where you will spot the odd coyote and jackrabbit and loads of swimming pools! With Hot Air Expeditions, you will get an hour-long flight with champagne.
John Wayne will have nothing on you after a day at the Arizona Cowboy College. You’ll be put through your paces on owner Rocco’s working ranch, grooming and saddling up before learning how to ride cowboy-style (One-handed with a lasso). Plus, you get a lesson in roping cattle (just dummies). Instead you could do the 30 minutes’ drive from Scottsdale at Fort McDowell mount your trusty steed for a hack through the Yavapai Nation. The area is home to a Native American tribe, and across the Verde River is a lush desert oasis; here you can spot bald eagles and wild mustangs.
Trek into the Cave Creek area and explore its old gold mines and find out the proper way to eat a jumping cholla. Then catch the sunset at from Boulders Resort and Spa; surrounded by ancient granite boulders that dot the landscape.