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Hiking & Caves
Breathtaking natural features and vibrant scenery make Arizona the perfect location for hiking, spelunking and generally exploring the great outdoors. Whether climbing desert mesas, hiking along mountain streams or navigating underground grottos, you’ll fall in love with Arizona’s hiking trails and caves.
Hiking in Arizona
Hundreds of hiking trails can be found in Arizona, with trips ranging from short, easy loops in the heart of the city to multiple-day treks in remote wilderness areas.
Grand Canyon hiking is a favorite for both family trips and expert expeditions, but there are also countless hiking trails at other sites, including many of Arizona’s national parks, monuments and recreation areas. You can even hike the Arizona Trail, a National Scenic Trail that forms a meandering 800-mile path from Mexico to Utah.
Before you go, check out our Arizona hiking tips for important information on staying safe and avoiding injury, dehydration and other common problems.
Arizona’s natural wonders don’t stop at ground level. Our state is home to some of the most impressive caves in the world and presents fantastic opportunities to view the world below the surface.
Perhaps the most famous is Kartchner Caverns State Park, which not only gives visitors the chance to see Arizona’s tallest and most massive column formation, but is also home to the world’s longest stalactite formation. Other favorites include Colossal Cave, near Tucson, and Grand Canyon Caverns, a living limestone cave on historic Route 66 in Northern Arizona.
On the National Register of Historic Places, Colossal Cave Mountain Park is a 2,400-acre desert park. The Park showcases Colossal Cave and La Posta Quemada Ranch, a 128-year-old working ranch.
Colossal Cave was officially "discovered" in 1879,<
The trail's primary users are hikers, equestrians and mountain bicyclists (outside of wilderness or other specially managed areas).
The Arizona State Trails System has been established to recognize and promote non-motorized trails that are of special interest or significance to both Arizona's residents and visitors. Trails offer a wide variety of recreation opportunities. The Sy
The seasoned guides at Hike In Tucson lead groups of inquisitive hikers through safe and informative treks through the Sonoran Desert for a unique adventure.
Discover this historic five-story Native American dwelling carved out of an ancient limestone cliff with twenty rooms. Begun during the twelfth century, it took about three centuries to complete.
This limestone sink was a water source for the Sinagua and Hohokam people who lived and farmed in this area thousands of years ago. Traces of their ancient irrigation ditches may be seen in the picnic area.
Keet Seel is built into an eye-shaped cave and accessible only by a strenuous 17-mile round trip hike and a climb up to the ruins. Betatakin is more accessible.
Walk in the footsteps of people who lived at Walnut Canyon more than 700 years ago. Peer into their homes, cliff dwellings built deep within canyon walls. The presence of water in a dry land made the canyon rare and valuable to its early human inhabita
Rock climbing and rappelling trips are an exciting adventure, and offer a fun way to explore scenic areas near Prescott and Phoenix. Novices to experts are welcome, and all required equipment is included.
AOA specializes in bike rentals and guided adventure trips from single-day hiking, biking, kayaking, and rafting in Phoenix to multi-day guided hiking, biking, and backpacking in the Grand Canyon, Havasupai, and the greater Southwest.
The 10,500-acre Fishhooks Wilderness is located about 30 miles northwest of Safford, Arizona in Graham County. With its scenic vistas and rugged beauty, this isolated wilderness area provides outstanding solitude for visitors. Upper, lower, and middle Fishhooks, Sam, Steer Springs and Dutch Pasture canyons offer pleasant hiking in seldom-visited areas that are tempered with shady riparian vegetation.
The perennial waters of Aravaipa Creek have carved a scenic canyon through the Sonoran Desert at the northern end of the Galiuro Mountains in southeastern Arizona.
Known for steep canyon walls dotted with greenery and hundreds of ancient pueblo ruins, Canyon de Chelly reflects one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes in North America. Distinctive architecture, artifacts and rock imagery are all remarkably preserved, providing a peek into the lives of the canyon’s earliest inhabitants. Today, a Navajo Indian community still inhabits the canyon floor, herding sheep during the summer months.
Called the “Land of Standing Up Rocks” by the Apache Indians, Chiricahua National Monument envelops almost 12,000 acres of Arizona nature. Located in Southern Arizona, near the town of Willcox, Arizona, and around 90 miles from Tucson, travelers come from all over to experience this site of unique rock formations and Arizona history.
Boasting the world’s longest stalactite formation, Kartchner Caverns State Park lets you see Arizona’s tallest natural column formation below ground level, making this state park one of Arizona’s most popular outdoor activities.
Located in Southern Arizona, Kartchner Caverns State Park is approximately 55 miles southeast of Tucson, near Benson.
Explore more than 700 miles of shoreline at Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States. With a wealth of activities and a beautiful desert environment, this enormous lake can hold as much as 9 trillion gallons of water – giving you ample opportunity to boat, swim, fish and generally soak up the sunshine.
This newly expanded reservoir offers 114 miles of shoreline perfect for family recreation, as well as convenient amenities including a 10-lane boat ramp and parking for 200 vehicles.
Glen Canyon Dam, which is a feature of the Colorado River Storage Project (CRSP), impounds Colorado River water to form Lake Powell, one of the most popular and scenic lakes in the world. Lake Powell is part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.The Bureau of Reclamation started construction of Glen Canyon Dam in 1956 and Lake Powell started filling on March 13, 1963. In 1980, 17 years after the diversion tunnel gates were closed, Lake Powell filled completely.
Experience one of the world’s largest and most vibrantly colored assemblies of petrified wood, historic structures and archeological sites at Petrified Forest National Park, located east of Winslow, Arizona. Here, 200-million-year-old fossils tell the tale of the earth – and its prehistoric inhabitants – amongst the picturesque wonders of Arizona’s Painted Desert. Petrified Forest is a surprising realm of fascinating landscape and science.
Rainbow Bridge is the world's largest known natural bridge. The span has undoubtedly inspired people throughout time--from the neighboring American Indian tribes who consider Rainbow Bridge sacred, to the 300,000 people from around the world who visit it each year.
Saguaro National Park protects and preserves a giant saguaro cactus forest that stretches across the valley floor near Tucson. Unique to the Sonoran Desert, the park’s giant saguaros sometimes reach as much as 50 feet in height – so it’s no wonder they’ve been described as the kings of the Sonoran Desert.
The city of Tucson divides Saguaro National park into two districts – the Tucson Mountain District to the west and Rincon Mountain District to the east, each located about 30 minutes outside of the city.
For an unforgettable encounter with Arizona nature, take a trip to the Painted Desert area. A broad region of rocky badlands encompassing more than 93,500 acres, this vast landscape features rocks in every hue – from deep lavenders and rich grays to reds, oranges and even pinks. Located in Northern Arizona, the Painted Desert stretches from Grand Canyon National Park eastward to Petrified Forest National Park, with a large portion lying within the Navajo Nation.
Five Day Schedule: From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the park is open from 8 am to 6 pm (with last entry at 5 pm) seven days a week. After Labor Day to Memorial Day the park is open 9 am-5 pm (last entry at 4 pm) seven days a week.
Thousands of years in the making, Tonto Natural Bridge is known to be the world’s largest natural travertine bridge. Located between Payson, Arizona, and Pine, Arizona, the 150-foot-wide limestone bridge arches 183 feet above sparkling Pine Creek. The bridge is surrounded by pine trees, while flowing springs and fern-draped grottos line the narrow canyon upstream.
Buckskin Mountain State Park is situated along the Parker Strip, an 18-mile stretch of land that runs along the Colorado River and divides parts of Arizona and California. Filled with gorgeous scenery, countless water activities and many indigenous wildlife, Buckskin Mountain State Park is a delightful respite where you can relax and enjoy yourself.
Situated along Lake Havasu, Cattail Cove State Park offers countless activities along one of Arizona's most popular lakes. From sun-bathing on the shoreline to bass fishing, you're sure to find an activity that will float your boat.
Engulfed by the Tonto National Forest, Lost Dutchman State Park is a sanctuary filled with nature, trails for hiking and biking, 70 campsites and wide-open skies, making it the perfect place to relax and star gaze.
Located less than a mile north of Buckskin State Park, River Island State Park offers a scenic area to camp, boat, swim, jets ski, fish, swim and more along Parker, Arizona's beautiful stretch of the Colorado River.
Replete with natural wonder, Roper Lake State Park is an obvious choice for your next camping vacation. Enjoy five miles of nature trails that wind through desert landscapes and lead to stunning mountain views.
At more than six miles long and nearly 480 acres in total size, the Verde River Greenway is an impressive and beautiful natural wonder. Located high in North Central Arizona, near Cottonwood, the elevation provides a mild climate ideal for summer hiking and other outdoor activities including canoeing and fishing.
Boynton Canyon in Sedona is one of the most scenic of the box canyons that make Arizona's red rock country so famous. This particular trail enjoys the additional advantage of being conveniently accessible to nearby towns on well-paved roads.
Four miles north of downtown Prescott at 3101 N State Route 89, this beautiful park allows access to Watson Lake and the boulders of the Granite Dells.
Clear Creek Campground is a popular place for hiking, swimming, wading and fishing. Cool water species such as smallmouth bass and green sunfish populate the stream near the campground.
The Mogollon Rim is a rugged escarpment that forms the southern limit of the Colorado Plateau. It extends across the entire forest and provides excellent views within Plateau Country and Desert Canyon Country as well.
More than 37,000 acres in size, Hellsgate Wilderness includes a major canyon and perennial stream extending its entire length, often with deep pools of water separated by impassable falls.
Located a few miles southeast of the center of Payson is an area known locally as the Granite Dells, featuring the Stewart Pocket geological structure at the heart of this picturesque site. This is a great hike for spring, fall or early winter, but may be too hot during the summer months, unless taken early in the morning.
The White Mountain Trail System is a unique, interconnected system of urban trails in the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside, the City of Show Low and the Wagon Wheel area. Currently five parks are being connected to the System: Fool Hollow Lake State Park (proposed), Woodland Lake Park, Big Springs Environmental Study Area, Billy Creek Trails Park (proposed) and Billy Creek Natural Area. Mini-parks are also envisioned throughout the project.
From desert bighorn sheep to the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher, birds and other animals thrive at Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge protects 30 river miles and 300 miles of shoreline from Needles, California, to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. One of the last remaining natural stretches of the lower Colorado River flows through the 20-mile-long Topock Gorge.
Nestled among the cool pines of the Coconino National Forest, the Page Springs Fish Hatchery offers a cool retreat from the desert during hot summer months. Families enjoy hiking the nature trail bordering Oak Creek, and kids like visiting the show ponds to see the hatchery's finest and largest trout.
A world-renowned location for bird watching, Madera Canyon is a major resting place for migrating species, while the extensive trail system of the Santa Rita Mountains is easily accessed from the Canyon's campground and picnic areas.
In this beautiful desert park, located within the Coronado National Forest less than 20 miles north of Tucson, is a self-guided, signed trail leading through Romero Ruin that includes a prehistoric Hohokam village with a ballcourt as well as the histor
The Arizona State Trails System has been established to recognize and promote non-motorized trails that are of special interest or significance to both Arizona's residents and visitors. Trails offer a wide variety of recreation opportunities. The System currently contains over 600 trails.
The Arizona State Trails System has been established to recognize and promote non-motorized trails that are of special interest or significance to both Arizona's residents and visitors. Trails offer a wide variety of recreation opportunities. The System currently contains over 600 trails. Arizona State Parks and ASCOT monitor these trails conditions and promote the trails in various ways.
The Ahakhav Tribal Preserve, located just outside Parker, was established in 1995 and currently consists of 1,253 acres of wilderness area and a 3.5-acre park. The preserve is centered around a reconstructed Colorado River backwater, which offers a variety of activities including fishing, canoeing, birding and swimming.
Havasu Canyon is a side branch of the Grand Canyon that was once the home of a prehistoric people. Today, it is home to the Havasupai, a tribe that has inhabited the canyon for more than 800 years – as well asstunnign views of waterfalls, travertine pools and canyon walls.
Originally home to the Hisat'sinom (known to archaeologists as the Anasazi) in the 14th century, the Homolovi Ruins is now a center of research and preservation of Native American migration.
Visit Tuzigoot National Monument and witness the incredible legacy of a people who live in the Verde Valley 1,000 years ago.
Horseshoe Bend is the name for a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River located near Page, Arizona.Horseshoe Bend is the name for a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River located near Page, Arizona. It is located five miles (8.5 km) downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, about four miles or 6 km southwest of Page. Horseshoe Bend can be viewed from the steep cliff above. The overlook is 4,200 feet above sea level and the Colorado River is at 3,200 feet above sea level making it a breathtaking 1,000 foot drop. It is a short ¾ of a mile hike from US Route 89. - See more at: http://visitpagearizona.com/activities/general/horseshoe-bend.html#sthash.HKBbhHX7.dpuf