travel guide

7 Unique Adventures in the Desert Southwest USA

Dr. Fuhrman

I can’t wait for you all to read today’s guest post by Shannon of FitLifeAndTravel.  I know you will enjoy all she has to share about staying active in the Southwest US!

One of my favorite types of adventure is hiking in beautiful places. Hiking is one of the most rewarding outdoor activities that one can do! There is just something about being outdoors. Whether it’s breathing the fresh air, hearing birds sing, or seeing wildflowers, nature can bring some extraordinary experiences. These experiences can range from a personal challenge to take on a strenuous hiking trail or simply exploring new places with a loved one. Outdoor activity such as hiking can also bring many health benefits. Some of these benefits may include improved blood pressure, lower stress levels, and weight loss. As a result of all the fresh air, nature, and activity, happiness can also be an end product of spending time outdoors.
 
I get excited just at the thought of taking on a new hiking adventure! Recently, I have been hiking in some of the most beautiful and stunning places, including the western US. Here are some of the hiking trails I thoroughly enjoyed while exploring in Arizona and Utah.
 

ARIZONA

Adventures in the desert Southwest present a few unique types of challenges because you must add the heat factor into the equation. I have included brief details about adventures that include easy, moderate and difficult trails.
 

1. Camelback Mountain

Photo 1 Camelback Mt_WEB

Located in the heart of Paradise Valley in Scottsdale, Arizona, Camelback Mountain sits amongst the magnificent 7 summits in the Phoenix metro area. Camelback Mountain stands out in the area and has thousands of visitors each year. You will find yourself starting at the Echo Canyon trailhead as you begin your ascension. Your heart pace will begin to increase almost immediately, so this hiking trail is an excellent cardio workout. However, caution must be taken if hiking this trail in the hot summer. The rocks are hot and the railings are even hotter. As a result of this heat, it can make this hiking adventure a difficult challenge! This trail will definitely get your heart pumping!
Elevation: 2707 feet.
 

2. Pinnacle Peak

Photo 2 PinnaclePeak_WEB

This beautiful trail is located in Scottsdale as well, and it is a very popular place to hike. Pinnacle Peak is one of the more highly trafficked trails that people hike in the Scottsdale area. With its elevation ranges of approximately 2,889 feet, and 3.5-mile round trip hike on a clean and groomed trail; Pinnacle had me yearning for more outdoor adventure. The interesting diversity of this trail is full of both plant life as well as wildlife. The Arizona desert is so diverse with its plant life including saguaro and cholla cactus. For instance, you may encounter wild animals such as woodrats, mountain lions, coyotes, grey foxes, snakes, Gila monstersand many others. We always enjoy seeing the chuckwalla scrambling and hiding from us as we wander these hiking trails
 

3. Devil’s Bridge

Photo 3 Devils Bridge_WEB

Sedona is the home to red rock canyons and landscapes, and it is also where you can find the spectacular hiking trail to Devil’s Bridge. This is a moderate hike with a 4.5-mile trek roundtrip and offers you amazing views and unique landscapes. The Bridge trail can get extremely busy during certain times of the year, and of course, it is not as busy if you hike it in the summer months, which is when I hiked it.
 

UTAH

Exploring in Utah is incredible! Home to the mighty five national parks, which are some of the most beautiful parks in the USA. Here are a couple of hiking trails that offer a challenge as well as rewards as you scramble through them.
 

Zion National Park

 

4. Angels Landing

Photo 4 Angels Landing_WEB
A massive rock formation with a 1,488 feet elevation and has a trail rating scale as difficult or strenuous. Most of the trail to Angel’s Landing is uphill along with several steep switchbacks and the last half-mile encountering sudden drop-offs and narrow paths. There are chains provided to help guide you as you make the climb to the summit. The path also takes you through Zion Canyon, which is full of beauty and maze.
 
 

5. Hidden Canyon Trail

Photo 5 Hidden Canyon Trl_WEB
This is another beautiful and moderately challenging hiking adventure at Hidden Canyon Trail! The level of difficulty for this trail is moderate, but I’ve seen it rated also as difficult. It has a 3-mile distance roundtrip and a 931 feet elevation with exquisite views at the top. Chains are also provided to help you scramble through the narrow and steep sections of the trail. Please note: Always check the national park websites for closures or changes to the trails because rocks are continuously falling or shifting.
 

Capitol Reef National Park

6. Hickman Bridge Hike

Photo 6 Hickman Bridge Trl_WEB
If you are looking for a relaxing and enjoyable walk on a trail, then this is right up your alley. Hickman Bridge is an easy, short 2-mile roundtrip trail that passes along the Fremont River up to a beautiful natural arch and Rim outlook area. The beautiful bridge sits 300 feet above the flowing Fremont River in between sets of shrub trees and brush.
 

7. Big Cottonwood Canyon

Photo 7 Big Cottonwood Canyon_WEB
This beautiful area is only about 20-minute drive Southeast of Salt Lake City, and home to an abundance of hiking adventures, mountains, and waterfalls! As a result of Big Cottonwood Creek, one of the largest streams entering Salt Lake Valley from the Wasatch Mountains, Big Cottonwood Canyon is formed. As you drive through the canyon on scenic SR-190, you can stop just about anywhere alongside the road and park and find a hiking trail. Many trails will lead you to several beautiful lakes, waterfalls, and views.
 

Conclusion

The world we live in today has become very complex and distracting. The stress that people are enduring these days is at an all-time high. For me, I have found that spending time outdoors is very therapeutic and calming. The outdoors presents so many opportunities for adventure and new challenges. I love taking on the challenge of a new hike and experiencing a sense of accomplishment. The exhilarating feeling of the adventure itself and seeing someplace new is incredible. On your next trip to Arizona and Utah, rest assured that you are probably getting some of the most unique adventure experiences in the desert southwest! And not to mention getting all those fabulous health benefits as well! I call that amazing!

About The Author

Shannon is the founder of FitlifeandTravel and is a military veteran turned travel blogger as she takes you on a journey through mountains, oceans, caves, and deserts. She also has a passion to live the healthiest life possible through outdoor activities, fitness, and nutrition. FitlifeandTravel is a travel and lifestyle blog that encompasses travel, hiking, health, music, and art and hopes to inspire you along the way. Follow along today!

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Emily again – Thanks for reading!  Have you been to any of these adventurous locations?  Please share in the comments!  I’ve only been to Camelback Mountain, but can’t wait to visit the rest of these spots!  Be sure to subscribe to Shannon’s blog so you can follow along with all of her active adventures!
If you’d like more information on Arizona specifically, check out THIS post for some incredibly helpful details for your travels!
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