Five Cardinal Rules to follow when Hiking in Arizona
By Macey Hallstedt
Arizona is a beautiful state with an absurd amount of hiking options. From the high country to the low desert, and everything in between, there are hiking trails that are sure to challenge you and views that are sure to amaze. In order to optimize your time outdoors, make sure you are well-prepared know which rules to follow while hiking in Arizona.
1. SUN PROTECTION IS KEY.
WATER + SUNSCREEN + HAT + SUNGLASSES.
Do not be one of those poor schmucks who underestimates the heat and exactly how quickly 100+ weather will demoralize you, body and soul, not to mention put you in significant danger if you’re unprepared. Hydration is important year-round, but especially so in the summer months. Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses are always recommended as the desert sun can often be cruelly bright. Many people choose to wear long-sleeves and pants with extra SPF protection when hiking in Arizona. Please do not underestimate the sun’s power!
2. Start early
Avoid the hottest part of the day and afternoon monsoons.
When in Arizona, do as the locals do: start early. They do this because the afternoon heat is much more punishing than the morning, and monsoons also tend to roll in during the summer afternoons. If you find yourself out hiking in the heat, make sure you have PLENTY of water, take frequent breaks in the shade (if you can find any), and don’t overexert yourself. If you are surprised by a monsoon storm, make sure to distance yourself from trekking poles, trees, or anything else that might attract lightning. If possible, stay away from canyons and water sources, as flooding can be sudden and extreme. NEVER cross a creek or wash during a flood.
3. Navigation is important
Make sure you have a reliable navigation aid.
When embarking on any outdoor adventure, you should have a map and a backup. Arizona has a lot of dead zones, so please do not rely on cell service. If you prefer to use your mobile device, download a map or trail directions and also make sure you have a paper version. Apps like hiking project, and google maps allow you to download interactive offline views of various areas. Also, be sure to tell someone your itinerary so they know where to look for you should you go missing.
4. Know the creepy crawlies
…and how to treat their bites/stings.
Everything in the desert wants to kill you, or so they say. Snakes, spiders, and scorpions all come with their own threats and have their own treatments. Make sure you know how to identify the dangerous creatures and what to do in case they decide to make you their prey. This rule renders your first aid kit extra useful.
5. Check the weather
Especially in the summer and monsoon seasons. Be sure to check the weather for your intended location, as well as the surrounding areas. The weather can change very quickly in the desert, with storms rolling in with little to no warning. Dust storms are also something to be wary of, as they limit visibility and can impede breathing and vision. Make sure your intended hiking area and the surrounding areas to decrease the likelihood of a storm surprising you.
Proper preparation will keep you happy and healthy on any hike. When out in the wilderness, small mishaps can be quickly magnified. In any situation, make sure not to panic. Use your common sense, cleverness, and these tips above and you will have a fun and safe time outdoors!