Mountain hikes and lazy rivers: Phoenix's perfect pair

On this trip, you get to enjoy mornings on the trails and afternoons in the pools.

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Created by Visit Phoenix - April 6th 2021

The awe-inspiring mountains around Greater Phoenix make for some pretty incredible adventures. Best done in the cooler hours of the morning, the hikes featured in this trip not only provide endless views of the city but allow you to explore some amazing landscapes and natural formations (yes, there will be caves). Then, after your date with nature, spend some time relaxing in one of Phoenix's luxury resorts. There's no better way to unwind and reward yourself after a morning summit than a long, afternoon soak in your hotel's extravagant pool. Natural beauty meets ultimate relaxation—there's truly no better way to spend a day.

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Gold Canyon, AZ

Get an early start and explore the 3.2-mile trail to Wave Cave, located in Gold Canyon, Arizona. Totally off the beaten path, the Wave Cave trail doesn't have any official trail markings and is considered a moderate hike. But for those up for an adventure, the sights along this hike are simply incredible—you won't want to miss the surfboard-worthy, wave-shaped rock formation at the mouth of the cave. There is a $15 permit required for hiking Wave Cave, and we recommend visiting between September and April when the weather is ideal.

If you choose to hike Echo Canyon Trail to the top of Phoenix's Camelback Mountain then be prepared to be blown away by the views. This 1.23-mile, one-way trail is the perfect excuse to disconnect from the hustle and bustle. The entire trail is only recommended for more seasoned hikers—there's a steep elevation gain and lots of boulders to climb over. But a shorter, half-mile trek still offers a taste of Echo Canyon beauty. In addition to breathtaking views, the trail offers a look at some of Arizona's diverse wildlife, including cottontail rabbits, snakes, and lizards. As with most hikes in the sunny state of Arizona, the earlier you start, the better. Make sure to bring lots of water... it's suggested you pack at least one liter of water for each hour you'll be outside.

With two distinct trails to choose from, Lookout Mountain Preserve is the perfect stop for your entire group. Take the Lookout Mountain Circumference Trail (Trail #308) and make your way around the mountain. Or choose the Lookout Mountain Summit Trail (Trail #150) and take the mountain peak head on. With several access points where you can stop and take in the views, the Lookout Mountain Preserve is an excellent hiking spot, especially for those looking for something a bit easier than the trail to Wave Cave or Echo Canyon.

Piestewa Peak is named after Army Private First Class Lori Piestewa, the first known Native American woman to have died while serving in combat on foreign soil. Both inspiring and historic, the Piestewa Peak Summit Trail features rock formations that are 14 million years in the making. The peak itself is the second highest mountain in all of Phoenix, which means you won't be disappointed with the views. The trail is extremely well-marked but the trek is challenging and has frequent steep inclines. If you're looking for something a little easier, the Dreamy Draw Recreation Area and Phoenix Mountains Park and Recreation Area—both of which surround the base of the mountain—have other trails of varying difficulty.

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Surrounded by beautiful Sonoran Desert mountains, the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa is a dreamy escape. It's got everything you'd want from a first-class resort, including a state-of-the-art fitness center, incredible spa, a variety of indoor and outdoor dining options, and the Wildfire Golf Club—home to two championship golf courses designed by Arnold Palmer and Nick Faldo. Stroll through the botanical garden or explore via rental bike before heading to one of the resort's five pools. Book a private cabana or poolside suite for lounging between hitting the waterslides and floating the lazy river.

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Offering top-of-the-line spa treatments, a state-of-the-art gym, and a golf course with a stunning stretch of holes running alongside the beautiful South Mountain Park and Preserve, the Arizona Grand Resort and Spa has plenty to keep you busy. With a friendly atmosphere and recently renovated modern rooms, this resort is the perfect choice for both a family getaway or a romantic escape. While you're there, definitely don't miss out on the Oasis Water Park—it has a 25-person hot tub, an 8-story Slide Canyon Tower with three adrenaline-pumping slides, a wave pool, and a lazy river.

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Another hotel with an incredible pool is the Hilton Phoenix Resort at the Peak. The hotel features suites and private casitas—all designed in a sleek, Spanish-Mediterranean-meets-Southwestern style. Several onsite dining options and gym facilities are included with your stay, but the main draw for many will be the River Ranch Water Park. It boasts four acres of fun, including three sparkling pools, gorgeous waterfalls, a 130-foot water slide, and a half-mile lazy river. There's even mini golf, a kids' camp, and an ice cream parlor.

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While known for its beautiful desert views and incredible mountain hiking trails, Phoenix also offers world-class luxury and fine dining unlike anywhere else. There's nothing like spending the morning taking on a rewarding mountain hike and spending the afternoon unwinding before a five-star dinner. If you're looking for outdoor adventure, complete relaxation, or something in between, Phoenix is the ultimate destination.

Banner Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Visit Phoenix

It's time to go beyond. Follow trails that reveal mighty mountaintops. Wander among iconic landscapes beneath picture-perfect skies. Let the Sonoran Desert be your guide to limitless adventure.