While known for its beautiful desert views and incredible mountain hiking trails, Phoenix also offers world-class luxury accommodations. Start your day with a mountain hike, then unwind with a soak at a top-rated resort.
The awe-inspiring mountains around Greater Phoenix make for incredible adventures. Best done in the cooler hours of the morning, the hikes featured in this guide not only provide endless views of the city but offer amazing desert landscapes and naturally cool formations (including caves). Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure, complete relaxation, or something in between, Phoenix has it all.
Bring plenty of water, wear a hat and sunscreen, and hit the trail in the early morning or near dusk during hot-weather months.
1. Wave Cave
Get an early start on the 3.2-mile trail to the Wave Cave, located in Gold Canyon, Arizona. Totally off the beaten path, the Wave Cave trail doesn’t have any official trail markings and is considered a moderate hike. But for those up for an adventure, the surrounding views of the Tonto National Forest and the Superstition Mountains along this trail are simply incredible—you won’t want to miss the surfboard-worthy, wave-shaped rock formation at the mouth of the cave. A $15 permit is required to hike to Wave Cave—we recommend visiting between September and April when the weather is ideal.
2. Echo Canyon Trail
If you choose to hike Echo Canyon Trail to the top of Phoenix’s Camelback Mountain, be prepared to be blown away by the incredible views. This 1.23-mile, one-way trail is the perfect excuse to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of city life. Featuring a steep elevation gain and large boulders, the full trail is recommended for seasoned hikers—but a shorter, half-mile trek still offers a taste of Echo Canyon’s beauty for less-experienced hikers. In addition to breathtaking views, it’s not uncommon to spot some Sonoran Desert wildlife, including cottontail rabbits and lizards.
3. Piestewa Peak Summit Trail
Piestewa Peak is named after Army Private First Class Lori Piestewa, the first known Native American woman to have died while serving in combat on foreign soil. Both a somber and beautiful tribute, the Piestewa Peak Summit Trail features rock formations 14 million years in the making. The peak itself is the second-highest mountain in all of Phoenix—and you won’t be disappointed with the views. The trail is extremely well-marked but the trek is challenging and features frequent and steep inclines. If you’re looking for something a little easier, the Dreamy Draw Recreation Area and Phoenix Mountains Park and Recreation Area—both of which surround the base of the mountain—offer other trails of varying difficulty.
4. Lookout Mountain Preserve
With two distinct trails to choose from, Lookout Mountain Preserve is the perfect stop for all hikers. Take the Lookout Mountain Circumference Trail (Trail #308) and make your way around the mountain, or choose the Lookout Mountain Summit Trail (Trail #150) and take the mountain peak head on. With several access points where you can stop and take in the views, the Lookout Mountain Preserve is an excellent hiking spot, especially for those looking for something a bit easier than something a bit easier than the three trails listed above.
5. JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort and Spa
Surrounded by beautiful Sonoran Desert mountains, the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort and Spa is a dreamy escape. It’s got everything you’d want from a first-class resort, including a state-of-the-art fitness center and spa, a variety of indoor and outdoor dining options, and the Wildfire Golf Club—home to two championship golf courses designed by Arnold Palmer and Nick Faldo. Stroll through the botanical garden or rent a bike and explore the area before cooling off in one of the resort’s five pools. Book a private cabana or poolside suite for lounging in between water slide rides and lazy river floats.
6. Arizona Grand Resort and Spa
Offering top-of-the-line spa treatments, a state-of-the-art gym, and a golf course with a stunning stretch of holes running alongside the beautiful South Mountain Park and Preserve, the Arizona Grand Resort and Spa has plenty to keep you busy. With a friendly atmosphere and recently-renovated modern rooms, this resort is the perfect choice for a family getaway, solo vacation, or romantic escape. Don’t miss out on the Oasis Water Park, which includes a 25-person hot tub, an eight-story Slide Canyon Tower with three adrenaline-pumping slides, a wave pool, and a lazy river.
7. Hilton Phoenix Resort at the Peak
Another hotel with an incredible pool is the Hilton Phoenix Resort at the Peak. The hotel features suites and private casitas—all designed in a sleek, Spanish-Mediterranean-meets-Southwestern style. Several onsite dining options and gym facilities are included with the stay, but the main draw for many will be the River Ranch Water Park. It boasts four acres of fun, including three sparkling pools, gorgeous waterfalls, a 130-foot water slide, half-mile lazy river, mini golf course, kids’ camp, and ice cream parlor.
8. Hyatt Regency Scottsdale
Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch Hotel is located in Scottsdale’s booming north end, within 6 miles of Old Town’s shopping and entertainment district, and less than 20 miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. This family-friendly resort features a 2.5-acre water playground with a sand beach and 3-story high-speed waterslide, golf course, nightly entertainment, and day spa.