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Top Things to do Outdoors in Scottsdale

Scottsdale is one of the top resort destinations in America with its vast selection of accommodations, restaurants, and live entertainment. Bordering Phoenix to the North and East, you’ll enjoy easy access to the Valley of the Sun during your stay. The weather here is warm year round, making it a top choice for heading outdoors to enjoy the stunning desert landscape surrounding the city. You’ll see everything in Scottsdale including a variety of natural rock formations, unique local vegetation, and more.


The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a 30,000-acre nature preserve located 16 miles north of downtown Scottsdale. It’s the ideal location for hiking, biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and more with over 180 miles of trails that can be accessed at five trailheads. The best place to begin exploring the preserve is at the Gateway Trailhead, home to the visitor's center, tour guides, parking, and more. The preserve offers a variety of Field Institute programs that are perfect for families. The programs cover subjects including flora and fauna, geology, human impact, and history.


A trip to Tonto National Forest must be on the bucket list of any outdoor lover. The sprawling network of wilderness covers three million acres, and is located only 30 miles East of downtown Scottsdale. The forest is the largest in the state and the fifth largest National Forest in America. Tonto contains eight different wilderness areas, each offering a different set of natural features and vegetation. Spend a day fishing in one of the man-made lakes or horseback riding on a mountain trail; Tonto National Forest has it all.

The Piestewa Peak Recreation Area is one of the most popular parks in the Scottsdale area, visited by over a half million people annually. It contains the 2,608-foot high Piestewa Peak, which is one of the two iconic peaks that frame the Phoenix skyline. The recreation area was renamed in 2003 to honor a local American soldier, Lori Piestewa, who was killed in Iraq. The area holds unique geological features including mountains that are far younger that the rocks that comprise them. You’ll also find high-quality facilities and high-quality trails that make Piestewa Peak ideal for fun seekers and those looking for a bird's eye view of the Valley of the Sun.