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.
Exploring on foot is the most intimate and educational way to experience Arizona’s Sonoran desert. You’ll enjoy an up close and personal look at the elements that comprise the Sonoran Desert, and find answers to ever-popular questions – Just how old is that Saguaro? From which cactus did John Wayne drink?
Advance reservations are required.
- 1 person: $190 pp
- 2-3 people: $95 pp
- 4 or more: $76 pp
If we are able to add a single guest to an existing group, the tour charge for 1 guest will be reduced by 50%.
Exclusive to your group. No other parties may add to your tour.
– $95 per group – inquire over the phone
All tours depart from our office in North Scottsdale unless otherwise requested.
All tours require advance reservation.
- Meet at AOA
- Activity duration: about 2 hours
- Total duration: about 4 hours
- We can schedule tours any day of the week.
- Tours typically depart at 8am and 1pm*.
*Advance reservations are required.
Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced options available.
- Professional safety-certified guide
- Bottled water & snacks
- Roundtrip Transportation to trailhead
- 1:8 guide to guest ratio
- Park entry fees
Combine with any other half day tour for a full day of adventure, lunch included! See our full-day tours page.
What do you need 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).
Sunglasses, sunscreen, camera, lip balm, medications, hat, etc.
Reservation, Payments, and Cancellation
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.
Your guided hike…
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.
Reservations are required. Guest contact information and a valid credit card are required to hold a reservation.
The Sonoran Desert
When southern and central Arizona was first visited by explorers from Spain and Mexico, its lack of dense forests or ocean access prevented expansive development. What these settlers didn’t realize was that the natural beauty and distinctive scenery of Arizona was valuable in itself. As the rest of the country was settled and developed, the oversight of the original explorers left Arizona with vast expanses of wide open spaces. Today these oases of solitude are treasured as priceless by those who appreciate the idea of blank spots on their maps.
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
Can’t decide between hiking and mountain biking?
Do both on one of our full-day guided tours!
Looking for longer adventures?