Camelback Mountain

Rocky entrance to cholla trailhead


Cholla Trailhead
6131 E. Cholla Ln.

Echo Canyon Trailhead
4925 E. McDonald Dr.


Trailhead & Trail Hours:
Sunrise to Sunset


Contact Information:

Ranger Office: 602-261-8318
Gatehouse: 602-534-5867
Natural Resources Office
(Business Hours Only):  602-495-5458

Contact Natural Resources Division staff with questions regarding Phoenix's desert parks and mountain preserves or call 602-261-8318



Camelback Mountain is considered one of the nation's top hiking destinations and attracts visitors from around the world. The range consists of two main trails, Echo Canyon Trail and Cholla Trail, both of which are rated Extremely Difficult and subject hikers to steep elevation gains, very rugged terrain and harsh elements associated with the Sonoran Desert. Only experienced hikers with adequate preparation during optimal weather should attempt to hike to the summit. For trail users that adhere to "Take a Hike. Do it Right" guidelines the payoff is a picturesque view from the summit (2,704 feet above sea level), which provides unmatched views of the Valley.

Camelback Mountain gets its name from the unique silhouette it casts on the Valley skyline. The "head" of the mountain, where Echo Canyon Trailhead is located, is made up of relatively soft layered sandstone. The "humps" are primarily composed of much harder and older granite. Contrasting rates of erosion created the dramatic camel-like slopes.


Camelback Mountain Important Notices:

Dog Restrictions:

Dogs are prohibited on all Camelback Mountain trails year-round.

Parking Restrictions at Cholla Trailhead:

Public parking is limited at Cholla Trailhead. There are several areas where parallel parking is permitted, however, parking is not permitted along the majority of roadways near the trailhead. Vehicles parked in violation of posted signs will be towed at the owner's expense.

Parking and Traffic Alert for Echo Canyon Trailhead:

During winter and ​​​spring months, Echo Canyon experiences extremely high visitation. The parking lot will typically be full from late morning through early afternoon on weekdays, and remain full throughout the day on weekends. When the parking lot reaches capacity, the entry gate will be closed. Visitors cannot idle vehicles on nearby McDonald Drive or Tatum Boulevard to wait for the gates to reopen. Police will ticket visitors who idle their vehicle along those roadways and tow those parked illegally.

Helpful Tips to Avoid Trailhead Parking Issues:

  • Bike to either trailhead: Consider putting a bike in your vehicle, parking in a public parking area within a few miles of the trailhead and biking to the trailhead. There are 17 bike lock racks that can accommodate at least 34 bikes at a time.

  • Consider another hiking location: Camelback Mountain receives its highest usage on weekends and during peak hiking season from October through April. Phoenix has many other summit hikes that offer a great workout and much smaller crowds than Camelback Mountain. North Mountain, South Mountain, Lookout Mountain and the Sonoran Preserve offer challenging hikes and beautiful views of the Valley. 

  • Avoid the area on the weekend: During winter and spring months, weekend traffic is heaviest throughout the day and traffic and gate closures are possible at any time.

  • Carpool whenever possible: When hiking at Camelback Mountain in a group, consider meeting off site and traveling to either trailhead in one vehicle.

  • Try a less busy time on a weekday: During winter and spring months, early afternoon tends to be the least busy time on a weekday. 

  • Try returning 15 to 20 minutes later: Vehicles cannot idle in nearby neighborhoods or circle around on nearby streets

Take a hike, do it right logo

Review "Take a Hike. Do it Right." 
guidelines before visiting the trail. 

The symbol to the right of each trail name represents the difficulty rating.

Trail rating guide

*Add an additional level of difficulty when the temperature is in the triple digits. 

Additional History and Area Information:

Initially part of an Indian reservation, Camelback Mountain saw increased encroachment from private development until the 1960s. The Preservation of Camelback Mountain Foundation, led by Barry Goldwater, helped to ensure the area's protection in 1968. However, much of the mountain was already surrounded by residential development, limiting the number of large animals found in the park to this day. Smaller animals including cottontail rabbits, lizards, Harris antelope squirrels, a variety of birds and snakes (including venomous rattlesnakes) are regularly encountered. 

Plant species found at Camelback Mountain are typical of those found in the lower Sonoran Desert and include saguaro, barrel, hedgehog, pincushion, jumping cholla, christmas, staghorn, cholla and prickly pear cacti. Tree species include palo verde, mesquite and ironwood, along with the ocotillo plant.