December is a wonderful time to be outdoors in Phoenix. With the city getting increasingly busy, and the holidays speedily slinging the days past, escaping into the cool desert is a great way step back and enjoy this time of year — and our surroundings. Plus, it's a chance to break out those sweaters that have been in hiding all summer. Here are five great ways to get outdoors this December and make use of those extra layers.
Bike Ride Arizona: Red Mountain 100
This is a century (or 100-mile) cycling event through northeast valley. The ride, taking place on December 6, begins at 6 a.m. at the bottom of Rio Verde, in the Needle Rock picnic area. It's a scenic ride that will send you climbing up McDowell Mountain Road, cruising along the B-line Highway and catching amazing views while wheeling alongside Saguaro Lake.
Las Noches de las Luminarias
Grab a cup of hot cider and take a walk through the lit paths of the Desert Botanical Garden, featuring over 8,000 hand-lit luminaire bags. This event promises to warm our senses while courting our holiday spirit with each step. Don’t miss this exciting look at the desert this holiday season. Dates begin December 10, and the event will run from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. on specified nights.
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Merry Merry Montelucia Ho Ho Ho Hike
While the usual payoff for hiking to the summit of Camelback Mountain is the amazing 360-degree view of the city, the plus one for this holiday hike is that Santa Clause himself, (wink, wink), will meet you at the top. The resort will also reward a spa day for the best holiday hiking costume. This festive hike begins at 8 a.m. on December 12, at Crave Cafe located within the resort. There will be two route options: hiking to the saddle, which is .8 miles round trip; and to the summit, which is 2.5 miles round trip.
Ugly Sweater Run
We’ve all got one, and here is your chance to wear it proud — and with the potential of winning some prizes for it. Awards will be given for several categories, including the obvious, best ugly sweater, to best pet attire and best real/fake facial hair. That’s right fellas, you could actually win an award for that mustache and/or beard you’ve been growing out all November. There will also be holiday goodies and Samuel Adams beverages abound as well as an opportunity to donate to nonprofit organization Save the Children. The race is being held at 10 a.m. December 19 at Tempe Beach Park, 620 North Mill Avenue.
Sunset Walk at McDowell Mountain Regional Park
Whether you want to bring the extended family along or you're seeking some solitude, this hike is a great opportunity to escape the hustle of the holidays while enjoying the desert outdoors. This is an easy 1.5-mile guided hike along the Tortoise Trail, where participants will be taking in the sunset while exploring the beautiful desert terrain. This hike begins at 4:30 p.m. on December 26. A flashlight or headlamp is recommended as a precautionary measure.