Things To Do




Hot-weather hiking advisory. We have entered the hot weather season in the Sonoran Desert. Please use extra caution if you’re planning on using trails. During hot weather months, try to wait for shade when hiking as full sun temperatures can be more than 20 degrees higher than the official shade temperature. So hike in early morning or near dusk when there’s more shade and less intense heat. Remember, even if you are hydrated you can still suffer from heat-related illness on the hottest summer days. During excessive heat warnings, consider whether it's safe to hike at all. Follow our full safety guidelines for staying safe on the trail.

This is the most popular form of recreation in Phoenix desert preserves. Choose from more than 180 miles of desert trails citywide.

Look for wildlife and signs of ancient civilizations in Phoenix Preserves:

Mountain Bike

Mountain Biking in Papago Park 

Mountain bikes are allowed on all trails, except for the summit trails on Piestewa Peak and Camelback Mountain. Below we've listed several of the more popular Phoenix trails for mountain bikes:

South Mountain's Desert Classic Trail

Phoenix Mountains Preserve Trail 100

Papago Park (all trails). 

Sonoran Preserve  In the southern Sonoran Preserve, popular mountain bike trails include Dixie Mountain Loop and the more technical Great Horned Owl Trail. All southern Sonoran Trails are accessed from 1901 W. Desert Vista Trail parking lot.  In the northern Sonoran Preserve (just south of Carefree Highway and 7th Avenue) are the Sidewinder, Ridgeback and Ocotillo Trails. 

Road Bike

Papago Park and South Mountain Park are the most popular locations for road biking. South Mountain Park has over 15 miles of roads, with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet. Dreamy Draw also has a bike path that runs through the preserve. A great  time to road bike is during monthly Silent Sundays at South Mountain Park.

Horseback Ride

 With exception of certain accessible and summit trails, horses are allowed on all trails. Guided horseback rides are available at South Mountain Park from Ponderosa Stables.


Archery at Papago Archery Range  

Papago Park has an archery range. Hours of availability are sunrise to sunset. 62nd Street and Oak. Open: Dawn to Dusk.


There is a course available at Papago Park.

Bird Watch

In addition to the common Sonoran Desert bird species listed above, the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area is an active riparian area that attracts dozens of species of migrating birds that pass through the area. Birders have document sightings of more than 200 species. Rio Salado Bird List


The city of Phoenix has contracted with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to stock lakes at six city parks: Cesar Chavez (Alvord Lake), Cortez, Desert West, Encanto, Papago, and Steele Indian School.

Arizona Game and Fish operates the urban fishing program at Papago Park.

Educational Places to visit in the Preserves

North Mountain Visitor's Center

South Mountain Environmental and Education Center

Audubon Arizona located within Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area

Camp Colley

 Please Note: There are no ramada reservations on major holidays including Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving (and the Friday following), July 4, Christmas, Memorial Day, Labor Day and any other official holiday recognized by the City of Phoenix. On these holidays, all desert-preserve based ramadas are available on a first come, first served basis.