Spend 3 days backpacking in Arizona’s Superstition Wilderness Near Phoenix
Only one hour away from bustling Phoenix, the sixth largest city in the United States, you’ll find miles and miles of incredible hiking trails that locals consider some of the best in the Sonoran Desert. The Superstition Mountains Wilderness offers towering Saguaro cactus, boulder-filled canyons and soaring, jagged peaks.
Why travel with AOA?: Find out more
Price: $745 pp
Activity: Hiking, Camping
3 days, 2 nights
Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced
Superstition Wilderness Backpacking Trip
2017 Price- $745 pp
2018 Price- $795 pp
Price is per person, shared occupancy in all accommodations.
Find out more about solo accommodations under the “Upgrades & Additions” tab below.
*Book a 2018 trip and use the code NIFTY50 for $50 off per person*
Join us on a three-day backpacking adventure in the Superstition Wilderness. With the help of your guide you will work on your backpacking skills, learn about the flora, fauna, and geology of the area, as well as the fascinating and mysterious legend and folklore of this mountain range. Get lost (figuratively not literally!) in the wilderness area rumored to have hidden gold mines and secret maps.
Trip Rating Details
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Where to Meet
START: 6:00am on Day 1. Meet your guide in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express in Old Town Scottsdale (CLICK HERE for map).
END: Drop-off at Holiday Inn Express in Old Town Scottsdale on Day 3 (usually between 5:00pm and 7:00pm).
GUESTS: 4 min to 12 max
- Meals and snacks starting lunch on Day 1 through lunch on Day 3
- Bottled water and snacks for van transfers
- Backcountry camping permits
- All necessary high quality backpacking gear (sleeping bag, sleeping pad, backpack, double occupancy tent)
- Trekking poles complimentary upon request
- Kitchen and group gear (cooking utensils, stove, fuel, water filter, food storage where needed, dish washing necessities)
- Personal mess kit (bowl, mug, fork, spoon)
- Professional Wilderness First Responder Certified Guide
- Van transfers to/from Holiday Inn Express to the Superstition Wilderness
- Personal insurance and expenses
- Transportation to and from Phoenix/Scottsdale
- Pre- or post-trip lodging
- Breakfast Day 1
- Dinner Day 3
- Optional gratuities to AOA guides
*Please see the “Upgrades & Additions” tab below for a list of available gear rentals and purchase options.*
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When is the best time to go on this trip?
A: Aside from the very middle of summer in the heat of the day, there isn’t a bad time to backpack in the Superstitions! Luckily, we don’t offer this trip during those warm summer months so you really can’t go wrong with any of the dates AOA offers. If you’re looking for an escape from those cold winter months up north, Arizona is the destination for you. Winter months offer solitude and the possibility of a very light dusting of snow (seeing snow on a saguaro is rare!), while spring offers green valleys, warmer nights, and flowing creeks. If we’ve had a good year of rain, the spring wildflower bloom can be amazing.
Q: What are the trails like and how do I train for the trip?
A: The best way to train for this trip is by hiking! Get out on some trails with some weight on your back, and remember to train over uneven terrain as much as possible. The desert southwest is very rocky. If you find yourself in the middle of the city and can’t access any hiking trails, don’t worry! Hit the gym and hop on a treadmill, don’t forget to wear your hiking boots, and have a backpack with some weight in it. When you sign up for one of our trips we provide you with detailed info about what to expect and guidance on how to train. If you need more tips just give us a call!
Q: What sort of accommodations are included on this trip?
A: Lightweight backpacking tents are provided for this trip. We offer spacious two-person tents or you can upgrade to Solo Accommodations for $25 + tax if you’re traveling alone or you just want a tent to yourself. Also included are weather-appropriate, lightweight sleeping bags as well as sleeping pads.
Upgrades & Additions
Solo Accommodations Upgrade
- Purchase: 3-liter Camelbak reservoir/bladder ($35 per)
Optional upgrades, additions, and rentals subject to tax (7.95%).
- November 10-12
- November 24-26
- December 8-10
- December 29-31
2018 dates coming soon!
To see all multi-day guided tours, visit our Adventure Tour Calendar.
Reservation & Cancellation Policy
Reservations, Payments and Cancellation
Superstition Wilderness tours are very popular and advanced planning is often necessary. We recommend making your reservations at least 3 to 5 months in advance. We can accommodate last-minute bookings provided space is available, so please call our office to check.
We strongly recommend that you purchase “travel insurance.” This is a valuable tool that will protect your trip investment.
For more details please see our comprehensive Trip Policies and Payments page.
DAY 1: MEET YOUR GUIDE AND BEGIN YOUR BACKPACKING ADVENTURE!
Meet your guide in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express in Old Town Scottsdale at 6:00am. Here your guide will do an orientation and distribute gear. Once your backpacks are all squared away, you’ll depart for a short drive to the Peralta Trailhead at the base of the Superstition Mountains. Just an hour from the heart of Phoenix, this popular trailhead quickly transitions us from rush hour to the quiet solitude of the Sonoran Desert. Hiking past towering saguaro cactus, we’ll follow a ridgeline before dropping down into a basin where we set up camp. Tonight we enjoy a campfire (USFS restrictions permitting) and a delicious guide-prepared dinner beneath the stars.
- Hiking: 6-7 miles
- Meals: Breakfast on your own, lunch and dinner included
- Lodging: Camping in remote backcountry area
DAY 2: CONQUER RED TANKS CANYON
After coffee and breakfast in the morning, we’ll break camp and begin to stretch our legs on the rocky Red Tanks Trail. Now deep in a remote region of the Superstition Wilderness Area, we’re likely to see some wildlife on our trek today; black-tailed jackrabbit, whiptail lizards, red-tailed hawk, and many others call this place home. We’ll do lunch on the trail to fuel us for a steep climb to a stunning vista where we can take in the whimsical desert terrain around us. Surprisingly lush, the Sonoran Desert has more species of plants and animals than any other desert in the world, including many native plants used by Native Americans as food and medicinal sources as they traveled this same route. Tonight we enjoy our final night of solitude while listening to the great-horned owl announce sunset. Dinner has a celebratory feel as we share stories of the trail with our new friends and adventure companions.
- Hiking: 5-7 miles
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
- Lodging: Camping in remote backcountry area
DAY 3: TREK THE WHISKEY SPRING TRAIL BACK TO PERALTA TRAILHEAD
Our campsite affords us a perfect view of sunrise over the saguaros! Having settled into a backcountry pace dictated by nature’s own timeline, we enjoy breakfast before donning our packs for our final day on the trail. Today’s route completes our loop via the Whiskey Springs Trail. From here we can see Miner’s Needle, a monumental rock spire left over from when this region was just a massive chain of volcanoes and cinder cones. By midday we drop back onto the Dutchman Trail and retrace our first day’s steps to find trail’s end at the Peralta Trailhead. We transfer back to our host hotel, arriving between 5:00 and 7:00pm. Although we’ve left the wilderness behind, we take with us a feeling of accomplishment and memories of our adventure together.
- Hiking: 6-8 miles
- Meals: Breakfast and lunch included, dinner on your own
- Lodging: On your own
Tips for Planning A Desert Backpacking Trip
Are you planning on backpacking or camping this summer? If you’re without a sleeping bag, you might want to read up the 4 steps to buying the perfect sleeping bag.
Don’t let winter stop you from backpacking! In the Sonoran Desert, winter is a wonderful time to go backpacking. Find out why you should go backpacking in the Sonoran Desert here!
Backpacking is the best way to explore the backcountry, but not the most glamorous. If you haven’t been on a backpacking trip before, here is a guide to preparing for your first backpacking trip so you can get a good idea of what to expect.
Need help choosing a backpack for your upcoming hiking trip? We’ve created a guide on how to find the right backpack for hiking and backpacking.
Heading into the backcountry without a first aid kit is a huge no-no. At the least, you should always carry a basic first aid kit with you anywhere you go! You can buy one, but sometimes the pre-made kits don’t have everything you would need. Here’s a little help from AOA on how to create a basic first aid kit.