Guided Hiking Tours of the Sonoran Desert
Venture into the lush desert and mountains surrounding Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona, on a half-day guided hiking tour with AOA. Learn all about the unique flora, fauna, geology, and history from our knowledgeable, professional guides.
1 person: $140 pp
2-3 people: $65 pp
4 or more: $52 pp
- Tours meet at Gateway Trailhead or Brown’s Ranch Trailhead
- Tours start at 8am, 11am or 2pm
- Activity duration: about 2-3 hours
- Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced options available.
Advanced reservations are required.
- Professional safety-certified guide
- Bottled water & snacks
- 1:8 guide to guest ratio
- Park entry fees
- Hotel/Residence Pick Up: $95 per group – inquire over the phone
- Private Tour: $150 per group. No other parties may add to your tour. We can schedule private tours any day of the week.
What to Bring
Clothing – Comfortable, weather appropriate athletic clothing – shorts and a t-shirt, long sleeves are recommended on cooler mornings.
Shoes – Close-toed athletic shoes (sneakers).
Miscellaneous – Sunglasses, sunscreen, camera, lip balm, medications, hat, etc.
What to Expect
Once You’ve Booked a Tour…
You will receive a booking confirmation email with details on the time and date of your tour, where to meet, the cancellation policy, a receipt of your tour purchase, and requests from us if we need additional information.
On the Day of Your Tour…
You will meet at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve’s Gateway Trailhead or Brown’s Ranch Trailhead. Other meeting locations may be arranged in advance by calling the office. You can expect to be with another group on your hiking tour unless you have booked a private tour. Our guides plan accordingly for varied skill levels and choose trails that fit the needs of everyone in the group.
Our guided hiking trips are designed to be more than a simple nature walk while still accessible to a wide range of ability so that individuals of modest fitness levels, as well as more active ones, will enjoy themselves.
All of the trails where we lead guided hikes have been chosen not only for their scenic beauty but also their accessibility, safety, and low volume of visitors. Combined, these factors afford our guests an unforgettable Sonoran Desert experience.
Our most popular hiking routes are in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, where a large variety of trails are available to accommodate all levels of hikers. Other hiking locations are available.
The Sonoran Desert
The Sonoran Desert covers the lower half of Arizona, the extreme southeastern portion of California, and parts of the Baja Peninsula and Mexico. It’s a 55-million-acre world of rugged mountain ranges, ancient lava flows, rivers, underground springs, sprawling sand dunes and yes, cities. The Sonoran is the hottest desert in the United States (although not in the world) and is the most tropical. On a worldwide scale, we are the most temperate desert on the globe generally remaining between 32 and 118 degrees Fahrenheit, making this a great area for many plants and animals.
© The Nature Conservancy
Adding to our attractiveness for plants and animals, we usually get between 7 and 12 inches of rain per year. This rain is provided through a bi-seasonal system. From December to March, frontal storms from North Pacific Ocean occasionally bring widespread, gentle rain to the northwestern areas. From July to mid-September, the summer monsoon brings surges of wet tropical air and frequent but localized violent thunderstorms.
These rainy seasons and our temperate climate added to the extreme elevation changes ranging across the state make Arizona and the Sonoran Desert a very diverse area with hundreds of plant and animal species. The Sonoran Desert alone has over 500 edible plants out of its nearly 3500 plant species. Arizona harbors greater plant and animal species diversity than any other non-coastal state in the country – third only to California and Texas and has the eighth highest number of endemic (unique to the area) species, with 135 species found nowhere else in the world.
Temperature and Climate
Advance reservations are required and can only be confirmed with receipt of guest contact information and a valid credit card. Final payment is due in advance of the tour. Guide gratuities are optional, but are appreciated.
There is no charge for cancellations made more than 48 hours before departure time. Cancellations made less than 48 hours from departure time will be charged in full.
Photos of the Half-day Hiking tour
Planning for your Trip
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Spend a full day in the Sonoran Desert
Longer Hiking Trips
If you’re looking to spend a few more days on the trails of the Southwest, we offer guided hiking and camping trips to Havasupai, the Grand Canyon, Southern Utah and more!
Take a look at our multi-day hiking and camping tours.