Visiting the Arizona desert should be on everyone’s bucket list. With incredible views you can’t get anywhere else, a diverse range of activities, and plenty of cute towns to choose from, Arizona simply won’t disappoint.Even for those of you that have been avoiding the desert because of heat can get excited- it gets shockingly cold here in the winter and even snows enough for great skiing in the mountains.
In this packing guide, I’ll cover the basics for every season, but do add some extra layers in your bag if you’ll be visiting in the winter.
Arizona Weather by Season
Before we dive into the packing guide, familiarize yourself with the average temperatures in Phoenix, Arizona based on season. That way, you can tweak this packing guide to fit the temperatures you’ll face on your desert vacation.
- Spring: You can expect highs between 74-99 F and lows between 54-74 F. You might get rain in early spring.
- Summer: You can expect highs around 105 F and lows around 85 F. The weather is typically dry, not rainy or humid.
- Fall: You can expect highs between 70-102 F and lows between 49-81 F. As you can see, fall weather is the most versatile.
- Winter: You can expect the highs around 65 F and the lows around 40 F.
Regardless of the season you visit, the first thing you’ll want to pack for your trip to Arizona is sunscreen. I typically pack 1 specifically for my face and another better for my body. The sun can be strong here, even in the heart of winter, so don’t take it lightly, even if the temperatures are cool.
Sunglasses and/or a Hat
To go along with the sunscreen tip, I also suggest you bring sunglasses and/or a hat on your trip to the desert, regardless of the season. If you’ll be spending a lot of time outside hiking, a hat is your best bet to keep your face covered for longer periods of time. If you plan instead to spend time in the quaint downtown areas of Sedona, Scottsdale, Tempe, or Greater Phoenix towns, sunglasses should suffice.
One of the best things to do in Arizona is to get outside. While even from the center of town or along the highway you’ll be rewarded with great views, the best scenes are found on one of the 1000s of hiking trails. From easy trails to extremely difficult ones, there’s plenty of options to fit your endurance level and trip goals.
An External Battery
If you’re like me and love a challenging, long hike, you won’t want to forget your external battery, or battery pack. Especially if you use your phone often to take pictures or keep track of the trail, your phone battery might die before you’re done with the trek. Save yourself the worry and bring an external battery along with you so you can use your phone, without having to worry about its battery life.
Depending on the season, the size of the jacket you pack will vary. Even in the summer months, I’d still suggest you pack a lightweight jacket. You won’t need it during the day but the desert nights can get chilly, so it’s better to be prepared just in case. If your jacket is also waterproof, that’s even better. It’s easy to assume it doesn’t rain in the desert but you’ll be surprised to know it actually pours from time to time.
Outdoor Adventure Clothes
As I mentioned, the most beloved thing to do in Arizona is to get outside and enjoy nature. While hiking is my personal favorite, you can also go mountain biking, horseback riding, go off-roading in a jeep or ATV, or if it’s winter, go skiing or snowboarding. Based on the activity of your choice, be sure to pack the outdoor adventure clothes needed for your activity.
Although I hope I’ve convinced you to spend plenty of time in nature while you visit the Arizona desert, Arizona’s towns and cities are full of trendy bars, restaurants, and cafes that I know you’ll want to visit while you’re in town. Look the part by packing a few cute outfits to wear after you’ve showered off the Arizona dirt from your outdoor adventure or for those relaxing days in town.
For the summer, a few versatile dresses or skirts are ideal. In the spring or fall, you’ll want to pack jeans and tops, and in the winter, go with jeans and sweaters.
An Extra Pair of Shoes
Now that you’ve packed a few cute outfits to hit the town, don’t forget to pack an extra pair of shoes. While your hiking boots might be comfortable, I’d leave them back in the vacation rental and instead slip into a pair of sandals, white sneakers, or boots in the winter.
Yep, you should pack a bandana or two. It is the desert afterall! While these make for cute accessories for the outfits you’ve packed, they’re also highly useful for your outdoor adventures, especially if you visit in the hot summer. Not only will they protect your neck and chest from the sun, you can also dip them in cold water, and they’ll keep you cool for much longer than if you just splash yourself. This is super helpful to prevent feeling overheated!
A Daypack and Water Bottle
You won’t want to hit the trails without a daypack and reusable water bottle. The daypack you carry should be lightweight, easy to pack, but still have back support for your comfort. The daypack is perfect for carrying your sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, and external battery. While in Arizona, you can pick up some snacks and food to bring with you, so no need to pack those things in advance. You’ll also be able to refill your water bottle at your vacation rental home.
There you have it- the perfect packing list for your next trip to Arizona. With these 10 items, you’ll be well prepared for your trip and are sure to have a great time, regardless of the season you visit.