Sports & Recreation

  • Best Way to Spend a Summer Day Outdoors Without Breaking a Sweat

    Salt River Tubing

    For a relaxing way to cool off on a hot summer afternoon, float down the Salt River with hundreds of your closest friends and Pantera fans. White-water rafting this isn't. Instead, it's a relatively smooth ride (But watch out for those rapids!) to the relaxing tune of '80s hair metal. Open May through September, the Salt River Recreation Center charges… More >>
  • Best Place to Go Camping Without Leaving the Valley

    Usery Mountain Recreation Area

    It's just eight miles north of U.S. 60 on Ellsworth Road, but this county park lets those short on time or thin on camping experience get away from it all. Usery Pass has 73 desert campsites, clean restrooms and showers and hiking trails for every experience level. (We recommend the Merkl Memorial Trail for a quick, easy walk, and the… More >>
  • Best Place for a Private Hike

    Black Mountain

    Squaw Peak is beautiful all the way up. Camelback Mountain gives us a workout, and if we can hang in, we're treated to truly mesmerizing views of the Valley below. But these trails are so darn crowded. It's just not a relaxing hike when we're staring at a stranger's churning buttocks inches above our faces. Black Mountain is where we go… More >>
  • Best Day Hike to Help You Forget Phoenix

    Peralta Trailhead, seven miles north of Gold Canyon

    One minute you're staring at the willy-nilly sprawl of Apache Junction, the next you're so isolated and lost in time you feel in danger from Apache warriors. From Peralta Trailhead, you can either head to the right on the Dutchman Trail or left up through the steep-walled Peralta Canyon to the Fremont Saddle. It's about four hours up and back,… More >>
  • Best Fall Day Trip for the Family

    Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum

    The 1.5-mile hike through the 323-acre Boyce Thompson Arboretum, the state's oldest and largest botanical garden, is gorgeous any time of the year. But only in fall, as you walk down through the steep-walled Queen Creek Canyon, do you pass through hundreds of different tree species from ecosystems around the world changing colors together. It's a natural palette seen in… More >>
  • Best Urban Hike

    Trail 100 from Dreamy Draw Recreation Area

    Squaw Peak's backside may be its best side. After a wet winter, the trail is lined with globe mallow and California poppies along the first pitch; a mile farther up and over the saddle, the vegetation has not been trampled by the aggressive procession of treadmill gym rats humping and huffing up and down the main trail. Think about it:… More >>
  • Best Hard-Core Day Hike

    The Flatiron Trail,
    Lost Dutchman State Park

    This is one of those trails that's like a video arcade game -- it keeps getting tougher and tougher until it finally beats you. It's only 2.5 miles from the trailhead to Flatiron, one of those cruelly majestic sentinels of the Superstition Mountains. The problem is, the last .9 mile climbs 1,700 feet through rock and cactuses from an area called… More >>
  • Best Genuine Desert Golf Course

    The Snake Hole Golf and Country Club

    A lot of uppity Valley golf resorts call themselves desert courses, but the reality of it is this: At those places, the whole point is to stay out of the desert. Well, good luck with that at Snake Hole, which isn't so much a golf course as it is an undeveloped quarter section of gravel and scrub by U.S. 60. Indeed,… More >>
  • Best Golf Course to Gawk at the Scenery

    Gold Canyon Golf Resort's Dinosaur Mountain Course

    You know your game is going to suffer when you find yourself discussing light and composition rather than club selection. Perhaps that's what makes the Dinosaur Course so difficult: It keeps you blathering on about Asher Durandesque panoramas as you thoughtlessly plunk drive after drive into the saguaros. The immaculately tailored course wraps in around a little desert nub called… More >>
  • Best Day Trip Into Arizona's Prehistory

    Casa Grande National Monument, Coolidge

    If your kids' idea of history is watching '70s-coifed Michael Landon preside over Little House on the Prairie, perhaps it's time to take them to the Big House in the Desert -- better known as Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. Built around 1350, the four-story Big House sits at the center of a small Hohokam farming community that was part of… More >>
  • Best Professional Bike Shop

    Domenic's Cycling

    By overcoming testicular cancer and trouncing the competition to win the Tour de France -- arguably the most grueling sporting event in the world -- Lance Armstrong taught us that nearly anything is possible. So, whether you want to live the Armstrong dream of winning the Tour or just to make it to the top of South Mountain, the best… More >>
  • Best Place to Walk Away Your Worries

    Franciscan Renewal Center

    As a rule, we snicker at anything resembling a religious experience -- particularly one that's being used as the center of a friend's birthday celebration. But when another guest insisted, "Oh, be a good sport," we rolled our eyes and went to the unusual fete -- at a labyrinth located behind the Franciscan Renewal Center. It wasn't so bad. Peaceful, actually.… More >>
  • Best Way to Enjoy a Hummer

    Desert Storm Hummer Tours

    Even if you're not impressed by gunshot saguaros and sweeping desert vistas, surely you have to be impressed by a 7,000-pound sport utility vehicle, right? Jesse Wade hopes so. Wade has been giving off-road tours of Tonto National Forest for 10 years and finds that Grand Canyon-eschewing tourists are mighty impressed with his Hummer-handling ability. His four-hour tours cost $90… More >>
  • Best Scenic Drive on a Harley

    Bartlett Lake, Tonto National Forest

    We completely understand why our dog loves to ride in the car with his head out the window. Ears a-flappin', tongue a-lollin', nose a-sniffin'. While the helmet law keeps our ears from flapping, nothing lets us experience all the sounds, textures and smells of our Sonoran landscape better than a motorcycle ride along a desert road. And nothing brings the earth closer… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Soaked

    Arizona Biltmore's Paradise Pool

    A pool and your money are soon parted at this luxury resort, where non-paying guests will sigh contentedly as your stress and cash quietly drain away under the swaying palms. Spy tanning celebrities, cut in front of children waiting for the 92-foot water slide, or swim up to the bar for an $8 piņa colada -- the choice is yours.… More >>

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