10 Must-Do Adventures In Arizona

Explore the Grand Canyon State.

By: Nick Tort

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Sunny skies, year-round perfect weather, and stellar sunsets complemented by rugged backcountry terrain make Arizona an adventurer’s dreamland. From the North Country’s pine forested rim that drops into the depths of the Grand Canyon to the picturesque Sonoran Desert landscape of central and southern Arizona, all the ingredients for the quintessential American adventure recipe are at your fingertips.

Check out our list of some of the can’t-miss experiences, possibly life-changing opportunities, and adventures that give a glimpse into the incredible backcountry world of the amazing state of Arizona.

1. Summit Weavers Needle

Photo: Nick Tort

For anyone who loves legends, folklore, superstitions, mystery and a killer challenge, this hike/climb in the majestic Superstitions Mountains is the kingpin of adventures. Combining the superb beauty of Peralta Trail, stunning views from Fremont Saddle, and the pure magnificence of climbing Weavers Needle, this trip will leave you in awe. Learn more.

2. Raft the Grand Canyon

Photo: Kevin Kaminski

This just may be the quintessential, All-American adventure. There is hardly an excursion that can match the raw beauty, ruggedness, excitement, and thrill that is packed into a multi-day rafting trip down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Overloaded with side trips down canyons, historical markers, breathtaking landscapes, waterfalls, and rolling whitewater waves – this one should be one of the top slots on everyone’s bucket list. Learn more.

3. Backpack to Havasu Falls

Photo: Tiffany Nguyen

Dropping down three thousand feet below the rim of the Grand Canyon is Havasu Canyon, where you will find some of the most remarkable blue-green waterfalls smashing into emerald travertine pools, surrounded by striking red rock canyon walls. This is one awe-inspiring adventure you will want to share with good company, remember with stunning photos, and relive over and over. Learn more.

4. Backpack the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim

Photo: Rob Witt

To truly get a feel for the natural beauty and epic vastness of one of the world’s greatest canyons, you’re going to have to put some dirt on the soles of your hiking boots. A hike into the Grand Canyon will put your physical and mental endurance to the test. If you’re up to the challenge, explore the canyon on a multi-day backpacking trip from one side to the other and back (aka R2R2R rim-to-rim-to-rim) just in case you missed anything the first time around. Learn more.

5. Hike to Humphrey’s Peak Summit

Photo: Sri Gangam

Why not climb your way to the highest natural peak in Arizona – Humphrey’s Peak in the San Francisco Peaks is actually the remnants of an extinct volcano and sits at an elevation of 12,637 feet – and why not do it the long way?! Starting out at Lockett Meadow on the Inner Basin Trail, make your way through a jaw-droppingly gorgeous hike through the aspen and pine forest up to the summit that will knock your socks off with breathtaking views. Learn more.

6. Hike the West Fork Trail in Sedona

Photo: Kevin Kaminski

Known as one of the best hiking trails in Arizona, the West Fork Trail makes its way along a deep, narrow, forested canyon with a permanent stream bordered by dramatic red rocks. The best time to experience this hike is early fall when the leaves are exploding with colors and air temps are still warm enough that a cool dip in the stream, which averages a depth of a few inches to 4 feet, will be more than welcomed. Learn more.

7. Hike Camelback Mountain

Photo: Kevin Kaminski

Probably the most popular trail in the Phoenix Valley and a must-do for any first time visitor to get a feel for AZ hiking, Camelback Mountain hosts 2 summit trails: Echo Canyon & Cholla Trail on one of Phoenix’s most prominent landmarks. Both trails gain approximately 1200 feet, offer little to no shade, and enjoy the footsteps of big crowds – but also offer escape from the surrounding city below, beautiful views, easy access and one of the most classic climbs: The Praying Monk. Learn more.

8. Hike the Superstition Ridgeline

Photo: Nick Tort

11.5 miles and 2800 ft. of elevation gain through rugged Arizona desert landscape along the spine that connects to epic hikes in the Superstition Mountains makes for a killer day hike or overnight adventure. Earn your Sonoran stripes by connecting Carney Springs to Siphon Draw (or vice versa). This is chock full of hiking, scrambling, and climbing along a gorgeous ridgeline that defines the edge of the vast wilderness of the Supes. Learn more.

9. Hike to Horseshoe Bend

Photo: Kevin Kaminski

Throw your shoes on, grab your camera with the widest lens you can hoist, and find out why Horseshoe Bend is one of the most photographed sections of the Colorado River. Mother nature displays her magical trickery with curves & formations that meander their way around a, well, horseshoe-shaped geological wonder. With only a 3/4 mile hike from the parking lot, you can afford to break out the hefty camera equipment and brave the elements. Learn more.

10. Photograph Antelope Canyon

Photo: Mark Handy

Antelope Canyon is a gorgeous slot canyon that will leave you breathless with it’s combination of extreme beauty, rock color, and bouncing ambient light that cauterizes into picture-perfect snaps. Though it can only be accessed by an arranged tour guide or company, it is well worth it and a perfect half-day excursion for all ages. Learn more.

Cover photo: Nick Tort

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.