From trekking and scenic drives to steamboat cruises, visitors to Scottsdale soon realize that this region is filled with exciting things to see and unique places to explore!
And to make the vacation planning process a little easier, preview a list of the top 5 Scottsdale day trips below:
1. Venture into McDowell Mountain Regional Park.
Set in the stunning lower Verde River basin, about a 30-minute drive from Scottsdale, the McDowell Mountain Regional Park provides a uniquely beautiful backdrop for exploring. Hike winding trails that weave past giant saguaro cacti or go mountain biking on rocky, technical terrain.
2. Admire rare plants at the Desert Botanical Garden.
Head into Central Phoenix to discover one of the world’s most spectacular collections of desert plants at the Desert Botanical Garden. With about 50 acres of remarkable outdoor exhibits, travelers could spend an entire day roaming the trails here. The garden is home to a total of 139 rare, endangered or threatened plant species from around the world.
3. Drive the Apache Trail.
Winding past ghost towns and rugged desert scenery, driving the Apache Trail is an unforgettable thrill.
The adventure begins in Apache Junction, located about 30-minutes east of Scottsdale, where travelers can cruise the 46 miles to Roosevelt Lake. The landscape is amazing, but it’s important that drivers never take their eyes off the road as they navigate the twists and turns.
A few attractions visitors will pass along the way include the Goldfield Ghost Town, the Canyon Lake Recreation Area, the Theodore Roosevelt Dam site and Lost Dutchman State Park.
4. Cruise on the Dolly Steamboat.
Sit back and relax on the 103-foot Dolly Steamboat, which cruises on the 10-mile long Canyon Lake. Visitors will pass the interesting Mormon Flat Dam while on this fun day trip.
The Scenic Nature Cruise lasts for about an hour and a half, offering an excellent chance to watch for desert bighorn sheep, bald eagles and other wildlife. There’s also a Twilight Dinner Cruise and an Astronomy Cruise. It takes about an hour to drive from Scottsdale to where the Dolly Steamboat is located on Canyon Lake.
5. Explore the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area.
Roam through rugged desert landscape while admiring the gorgeous terrain. The Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, located about an hour’s drive north of Scottsdale, takes hikers and mountain bikers past the remains of early mining and ranching activities in the park as well as lush vegetation along Cave Creek. This area is particularly stunning in the spring when the wildflowers bloom.
Planning a Scottsdale day trip? The Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa is perfectly positioned for exploring everything the region has to offer.