It’s Friday at 5:00, you want to escape the heat and experience the undervalued nature just outside of Phoenix. You show up to the Salt River, and it’s crowded and you are dripping in sweat.
You wish you would of known about the FIVE top National Parks in the Phoenix area! Read on to learn about the abundance of outdoor adventures available to locals year round.
Pack your sunscreen, hiking boots, and a good attitude to enjoy the Valley’s top National Parks this season
1. South Mountain Park
South Mountain Park is less than a 30-minute drive from downtown Phoenix, and is known for being one of the largest urban parks in North America. South Martin is home to ten beautiful trailheads and throughout 16,000 acres of land and 51 miles of trails. Chalk full of Chuckwalla giant lizards and a panoramic view, tourists will have a fantastic weekend getaway whenever they visit South Mountain.
#FrayLife Tip: Schedule your trip early, and rent one of the gorgeous Ramadas available at https://www.phoenix.gov/parks/trails/locations/south-mountain
2. Tonto National Forest
Approx. 2 hour drive
Tonto National Forest is the largest forest in Arizona and the fifth largest in the United States. Four lakes and two rivers and an altitude that varies from 1,300 to 7,900 feet creates a diverse ambiance of cool forest and dry desert. With wild horses and the occasional bear sighting, you can expect a spectacular weekend getaway when you visit Tonto National Forest.
#FrayLife Tip: Stop by the nearby Lost Dutchman State Park for some nighttime blacklight scorpion hunting
3. Sonoran Desert National Monument
Approx. 1 hour drive
The Sonoran Desert National Monument encompasses three picturesque mountain ranges, the Sand Tank, Maricopa, and Table Top Mountains… all stacked with the a magnificent cactus forest. Just over an hour outside of Phoenix, this getaway gives you the chance to escape the city lights with perfect conditions for star-gazing, especially during meteor showers and eclipses.
#FrayLife Tip: Pack water and sunscreen, this rural location does not have shops or tourist centers
4. Phoenix Sonoran Preserve
Approx. 45-minute drive
Head north of the city and you’ll find Phoenix Sonoran Preserve, which offers hiking excitement for all levels of experience. An underrated hiking and biking excursion, the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve is known for being unknown in the sense that you’ll be able to escape civilization and, most likely, get to enjoy the experience to yourself
#FrayLife Tip: Have no fear! While the Sonoran Preserve is known for being rustic, it still has common ammonites like bathrooms and water fountains.
5. Saguaro National Park
Approx. 2 hour drive
The journey from Phoenix to Saguaro National Park is well worth the trip…and the extra gas. Just outside of Tucson, Saguaro is renowned for its cacti, cougars, javelina, and bears. With over a dozen campsites for merely $8 a night, visitors have the opportunity to select between five different locations. Saguaro also offers biking, hiking, and a driving loop if you want to see the beautiful sites without wanting to leave the comfort of your car.
#FrayLife Tip: Yee-haw and saddle-up! Horseback riding is permitted on some trails at Saguaro National Park.
Do you know of an awesome state park near PHX that didn’t make our list? Show it off by tagging your social pics from your visit with #FrayLife #PhxFray!
Looking to spend the day and night in the grand outdoors? Here are 5 awesome camping spots to hit in Phx.
View More Articles By Jake Derman