Scaling Rock Walls in Phoenix's Backyard
Phoenix may be known for bland suburban sprawl, but with 3 million acres of rugged wilderness in its backyard, it's an ideal hub for climbers, with hundreds of different routes and trails. A local outfitter like Just Roughin' It or the Climbing School can set you up with gear, guides, and lessons.
Day 1: Start at Camelback Mountain, a slab of rock right in the city's center. Hike to the summit, do some fun bouldering around the base, or tackle a climb up the face.
Day 2: In the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, 30 miles east of the city, hikers can wander through ancient stands of saguaro cactus, which soar to heights of 60 feet, while the more vertically inclined can tackle Tom's Thumb. "It's a gorgeous granite tower with some of the best climbing in Phoenix," says Just Roughin' It's Ray Hendricks.
Day 3: Venture into Tonto National Forest. You'll find local climbers scaling the volcanic towers at Queen Creek Canyon. Hikers, meanwhile, can ascend from the desert floor to pine forests and mountain lakes.
And here's the best part: Phoenix is full of five-star golf resorts like the Arizona Biltmore, where you can get seriously pampered for as little as $110 a night.
Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport gets direct flights from 80 U.S. cities.