Nature Lovers – The Phoenix area is frequented by many visitors because of its desirable weather. 300 days of sun and warm temperatures contribute to this, as does the allure of the area’s attractions.
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If you’re looking for a nature-filled activity that doesn’t require hiking, plenty of other great options are available.
The best time to avoid heat and sun exposure is during the afternoon, and on winter days, it’s best to stay indoors. However, on days when the temperature is 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more, spending the morning outdoors is a good way to avoid the afternoon heat. Additionally, on winter days when it’s cold outside, absorbing the sun’s rays is possible without great exertion by spending time outdoors.
Spending time in nature is crucial for our health, even though some people find it difficult to go on a hike or spend time outdoors. Even if you only have a short burst of time, or if you’re not interested in hiking, I urge you to visit these places and take in their beauty.
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Mountain Shadows Golf Course
Golf enthusiasts looking for a quicker game that is still enjoyable need look no further than The Short Course at Mountain Shadows in Paradise Valley. The course offers nine holes of golf that can be completed in about two hours.
If you’re looking for a lush and relaxing golfing experience, look no further than the pristine fairways of this par-three course. With its stunning views of Camelback Mountain, this course is a favorite among visitors and locals alike. So whether you’re teeing off or just hitting some balls on the practice green, you’ll enjoy your time at this picturesque course.
Spending time outdoors in nature provides physical and mental health benefits. The sunny weather in Phoenix encourages hikers to take advantage of the hiking trails.
There are several lovely hiking spots in the area, should you be looking for a more strenuous experience. However, if you would rather enjoy nature without all the work, there are also several beautiful places to visit nearby.
Pro Tip: Please take notice of the weather conditions. The jokes about the low humidity are accurate and it is easy to become dehydrated quickly.
The sun seems warmer in Arizona than it does in other parts of the country. always plan for it to feel warmer than the temperature reads. Drink more water, wear sunscreen, and protect yourself from the sun if you are sensitive to the heat.
Tempe Town Lake
Just south of Phoenix, in the town of Tempe, there is Arizona State University. The pride and joy of the town are Tempe Town Lake, an oasis in the desert. Although it is surrounded by little vegetation, the shimmering lake offers a wonderful place to take a stroll on a gorgeous sunny day.
The loop around the lake is 7 miles long, but the strip near Mill Avenue Bridge and the pedestrian bridge near the Tempe Center for the Arts are easily accessible from the Tempe Beach Park lot. It’s a short walk, so take a stroll next time you’re in the area.
This area typically hosts a crowd of walkers, runners, bikers, and picnickers on the weekends. Public art can be enjoyed along the way. My favorite is the Sea of Waves reflecting pond adjacent to the arts center. The architecture of the arts center and pedestrian bridge provides some man-made wonders that are worth a look.
Pro Tip: To enjoy the water, rent a boat, kayak, or paddleboat on the south side of the lake near the Mill Avenue Bridge.
Riparian Preserve At Water Ranch
In 1986, the town of Gilbert in Arizona decided to reuse 100 percent of its wastewater. It created a park consisting of 110 acres of water spread over seven pounds. Most of the paths are packed dirt, but they are overall very flat and shaded.
The park has over 4 miles of trails that allow you to choose how long of a walk you want. You can rest on one of the benches or blinds near the ponds and watch almost 300 different types of birds. There is also a floating boardwalk near the entrance, which provides a great view of the fish.
The trails at Riparian Preserve are open from dawn to dusk and are free to enter. For more information on the preserve, please visit our website.
Pro Tip: If the main parking lot is full, park at the Southeast Regional Library on the Guadalupe Road
The Phoenix area is home to several local parks, many of which include playgrounds and ballparks. Chaparral Park is a great option for a walk around its lake. There are flat sidewalks and numerous benches next to the shoreline, perfect for taking a break and enjoying the view of the geese and other waterfowl. It’s also possible to see a pair of bald eagles here occasionally diving down for fish.
At this park, there are 10 exercise stations that you can use, as well as three ramadas that you can reserve for a picnic. You can also park near the dog parks or walk past the soccer and baseball fields to reach The Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden.
The 5-acre garden has been designated a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat. Visitors can stroll through Palo Verde trees and various flowering bushes while listening to the bird song and breeze blowing through the branches.
The two spiral paths at this park offer perfect spots for meditation. The signage nearby educates visitors on ways to create landscaping that saves water. This park is free to visit, and there are four locations for restrooms and drinking fountains throughout the park.
Pro Tips: Parking can be difficult to find near Chaparral Road, so consider parking in the lot north of Hayden Road on the east side of Chaparral.
McDowell Sonoran Preserve Gateway Trailhead
The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a 30,00030,000-acre preserve located in North Scottsdale. Hikers and mountain bikers can enjoy 225 interconnected trails that offer scenic views of the mountains. Those who don’t want to hike can visit the nature trail at the Gateway Trailhead, which offers an up-close view of the desert landscape and plants.
Bajada Trail, situated near the trailhead, is a wide and level dirt path that features multiple plaques educating visitors about the Sonoran desert. You can do the shorter quarter-mile loop or walk the entire figure eight for a half-mile trek. The McDowell Mountains loom in the background, contributing to a sense of awe as you enjoy the peace of the desert.
The preserve is open to the public and offers a variety of amenities, including free parking, restrooms, and a water refill station.
Pro Tip: The preserve is home to rattlesnakes, though they are seldom seen on the Bajada Trail. If you do encounter one, you’ll be able to hear its distinctive rattle from a considerable distance and will be able to avoid it easily.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum for Nature Lovers
If you’re looking for an incredible botanical experience, visit Boyce Thompson Arboretum. This garden features plants from around the world, letting you feel like you’re touring the globe. With 19,000 plants and 3,900 taxa, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the thiin135-acre garden.
Visitors to the garden should allot allows one hour for their visit, though spending several hours here is recommended on a nice day. The trails are all unpaved and relatively flat. The main trail is wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. Many of the garden trails are narrow, but they are easy to walk down.
The hike around Ayer Lake and through the Upland Sonoran Desert Natural Area is a beautiful journey that can be moderate in difficulty for some. If you want to experience a mix of short and easy trails with beautiful views, the Arboretum is perfect.
Traveling to the Arboretum from Phoenix’s downtown area will take about an hour, though the duration may be shorter if you are located on the east side of town. Upon arriving, there is a fee that must be paid before entering the premises.
The Japanese Friendship Garden Of Phoenix
In 1987, Himeji, Japan’s Mayor Matsuji Totani proposed the creation of a garden in Phoenix to foster closer ties between the two cities. Today, the 3.5-acre garden is a welcome respite from downtown Phoenix. It features ponds, pagodas, and beautiful gardens that are popular with locals and visitors alike.
As you walk around the garden, you will notice a stone lantern and pond. The waterfall and zig-zag bridge crossing the pond are meant to encourage you to take your time and appreciate the scenery.
The garden’s koi fish bridge forms a greeting for visitors. The pond is deep enough so the koi can cool off in the summer and stay warm through the winter. The garden path can be covered in 30 minutes with steady walking or you can take a break on a bench and bathe in the tranquility.
Pro Tip: The Japanese Friendship Garden hosts many exciting events and tea ceremonies. Be sure to check their website before your visit for the latest information.
Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden is a must-see for anyone visiting Phoenix. It features over 90,000 desert plants from 4,400 different species. The main Desert Discovery Loop Trail is paved, making it easy to traverse. You’ll get up close and personal with towering cacti and a variety of flowering bushes.
The café is accessible from the Desert Wildflower Loop Trail and the other trails. The Desert Wildflower Loop Trail and Cactus and Succulent Galleries are mainly flat dirt trails, showcasing a vast variety of desert plants and flowers. The Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert Trail is a longer, one-thone-third-of-a-mimile trail that demmiletes how Native Americans use the desert plants for food and shelter.
For an excellent view of the Phoenix metropolitan area, consider hiking the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail. Though it is only a quarter-mile long, the trail is quite steep. A word of warning: If you have time for lunch, Gertrude’s Restaurant offers a delightful patio as well as an indoor dining room near the entrance to DBG.