GUIDES | September 2, 2014

Destination Guide: Phoenix, AZ

Things to do in the Phoenix desert

Carrie, Founder & Chief Wanderer

Ah, Phoenix. Depending on when you go to Phoenix you can either be in heaven or hell— okay, not hell, but it is just a little uncomfortable. I am talking about the weather. Phoenix gets up to 120 degrees in the summer, so if you can’t handle the heat, you should stay out of Phoenix. But when it cools down in the fall and before it heats up in the spring, the days are nice and the nights are even better, IMHO.

Phoenix is the capital of Arizona and the most populous city in the desert. Being in the desert, it’s not easy to live sustainably. Water is a precious commodity, local foods are slightly harder to come by, and aside from solar installations, sustainability isn’t a major focus of this city. So while visiting Phoenix, environmentally conscious businesses and attractions may be harder to come by. On the other hand, the outdoor activities in Phoenix are endless. Take advantage of the great nearby hiking, desert museums and refreshing rivers and lakes.

Here are Ecowander’s top picks:

Hike Camelback Mountain

This is a very popular hike in the Phoenix area that provides great views of downtown. Remember to bring your reusable water bottle! This hike can be a little difficult so make sure you bring extra water and depending on the season, be sure to go during the early morning or late afternoon to avoid any extra sun exposure.

9200 N Bush Hwy, Mesa, AZ 85215

Salt River Float One of the more environmentally friendly ways to cool down in the hot Arizona sun is by floating down the Salt River (think: an alternative to that energy-sucking hotel pool). Floating down the river will provide you with fantastic views of the desert while relaxing in the cool waters. Depending on your drop off location you can float on the river from 2 up to 4 hours. However, the river isn’t open all year round; it’s only open from May to September.

1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008

The Desert Botanical Garden offer a pleasant outdoor experience while also contributing to local research and conservation. The gardens consist of over 50,000 desert plants from around the world in a 140-acre area. While at the Garden, you can enjoy a guided tour, see any rotating exhibits or events and take a scenic walk through the gardens. There are several trails to explore throughout the gardens, ranging from ⅓ to ¼ mile loops. The Desert Botanical Garden also has a research and conservation department that is working to learn more about the native desert and help conserve threatened native plants. And remember to bring your water!

600 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

Arizona Science MuseumThe Arizona Science Center promotes education and exploration in the sciences. They have constant rotating exhibits, classes and presentations focused on energy and the environment, health, and technology and innovation— it’s fun for all ages. The Science Center is located downtown and open almost every day of the year.