The Phoenix Mountain Preserve consists of expansive urban parks and majestic mountains, towering over Phoenix and Scottsdale in the arid land of Arizona. Camelback Mountain, North Mountain, the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve, and Piestewa Peak vibrate their vast beauty across the land.
Sitting in the center of the bustling city of Phoenix, this desert utopia is the perfect escape to unwind and be one with nature. The cacti-sprinkled landscape is a sight for sore eyes, making you forget the surrounding concrete jungle.
Stroll through the many hiking trails or go horseback riding on one of the many paths in the park for complete tranquility and scenic views.
The Preserve’s accessibility by car and public transportation attracts crowds year-round. At a mere 20-minute drive from downtown, people especially love spending early mornings and sunsets here. The magical atmosphere when the skies turn into shades of vermillion and purple is a sight to be seen.
History & Facts: The Phoenix Mountain Preserve
Since the 1960s, Phoenix residents have been protesting against mankind encroaching into the precious mountains and destroying them.
In 1970, these efforts culminated in the formation of the Phoenix Mountains Preservation Council. Continuing today, the group’s mission is to preserve and protect the wilderness.
The Phoenix Mountain Preserve we know today traverses 37,000 acres of parks. Some of these are among the largest parks worldwide.
The most famous ones are:
- Piestewa Peak
- North Mountain and Shaw Butte
- Lookout Mountain Preserve
- Camelback Mountain Park
- Dreamy Draw Recreation Area
Wildlife in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve
Plenty of critters live in these urban parks. Keen observers often spot common chuckwalla lizards, keeled rock geckos, pelicans, and sweet-singing yellow warblers. If you’re lucky, you might spot black bears, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions, too.
Things to Do Around the Phoenix Mountain Preserve
Wondering how to spend your time in this mountainous desert Eden? From endless hiking trails to the majestic Squaw Peak, you’ll have no shortage of sites and activities. We’ve rounded up some activities for you and the family to enjoy.
The mountain biking trails at the Phoenix Mountain Preserve are some of the most popular in the state. They take you through glorious parts of the preserve, including views of Piestewa Peak and Camelback Mountain.
Quartz Ridge Trail is popular among mountain bikers in the area. Spanning only 5.1 km, it’s a fairly easy trail with minimal elevation gain. The trail does get hot as the day progresses — after all, you’re close to the Sonoran Desert. So head here for sunrise instead of late afternoon.
Trying your hand at mountain biking for the very first time? The majority of trails here have loose rocks and steep climbs, but if you have an experienced companion along, you will thoroughly enjoy your ride. Make sure to take plenty of breaks to recharge.
- Notable feature: Meandering mountain biking trails with picturesque views
- Location: Quartz Ridge Trail – 6511 E Sierra Vista Dr, Phoenix, AZ 85018, USA
Little Ms. BBQ Sunnyslope
Hankering for a satiable rack of ribs or rich, creamy mac and cheese? A meal or two at Little Ms. BBQ Sunnyslope is an unmissable stop. It’s an authentic southern barbecue joint located north of Phoenix’s downtown.
Prepare to be stopped in your tracks by mouth-watering aromas as soon as you walk in. Menu items include melt-in-your-mouth brisket, ribs, and pulled pork sandwiches. Don’t forget the equally scrumptious sides like potato salad and coleslaw.
You’ll find plenty of local craft beers on tap, yummy cocktails, and fountain sodas. The cherry on top of it all? The meals here are easy on the wallet, even if you’re buying for the whole family.
And if you’re a vegetarian or looking for a light meal? You can’t go wrong with macaroni & cheese or jalapeño cheese grits. Thank us after you’re settled and satiated in that paradise of cheesy goodness!
- Notable features: Tender, flavorful meat smoked for 16 hours
- Location: 8901 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85020, United States
Hiking at Piestewa Peak Trails
At 2610 feet, Piestewa Peak is the second tallest point in Phoenix Mountain, second only to Camelback Mountain.
The Piestewa Peak Summit Trail
Locals and travelers flock to The Piestewa Peak Summit Trail at dawn and dusk to witness the wondrous vistas. Solo hikers come for the adrenaline rush they get after reaching the top, while others come as a family to enjoy a day in nature.
It’s a difficult hike; we won’t lie! Some climbers get tired before reaching the peak. But if making it to the top is on your bucket list, make sure you bring bottles of water and some snacks. You won’t be able to buy any on the way beyond the trailhead, and restrooms aren’t abundant.
Photographers particularly love this trail, with sites like Pinnacle Peak, Superstition Mountains, McDowell Mountains, and Hieroglyphic Mountains visible from the summit on a clear day.
On average, the hike takes about 30-60 mins to finish. This trail is only for hiking, so you’ll need to leave your furry friends at home. Dogs, bicycles, or horseback riding aren’t allowed.
If you’re lucky, you may spot a ringtail — an adorable mammal from the raccoon family scuttering around the Piestewa trail.
- Opening Hours: Sunrise till 11:00 pm
- Notable feature: The trail is open well into the night. The visibility of the twinkling city lights makes for a romantic date night hike. Make sure to carry torches and water.
- Location: 2701 E Squaw Peak Dr, Phoenix. Take the first left of Phoenix Mountains Park and Recreation Area
Norman Lykes House: Historical Landmark
Architecture fans will love swinging by Norman Lykes House, the last creation of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Before his demise in April 1959, he poured his heart into working on this iconic landmark. After his death, John Rattenbury, Frank Lloyd’s apprentice, took over the project and completed it in 1967 based on Frank’s vision.
The architect was known for being inspired by the organic formations found in nature. Normal Lyke’s House with its curved intertwining structures, circular windows, and play of shadow and light from the beaming sun, earned its second name as the Circular Sun House.
The Norman Lykes House still is currently a residence. So if you decide to take a closer look, make sure to be respectful.
- Notable feature: Architectural wonder in Phoenix’s Palm Canyon. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for Norman and Aimee Lykes in 1959.
- Location: 6836 North 36th Street in Phoenix, Arizona.
Arizona Biltmore Golf Club
Phoenix Mountain Preserve’s sprawling desert urban parks brim with desert flora — it’s a magnet for outdoor lovers. But the fun doesn’t end there. After getting your fill of adventure, swap your dusty outdoor gear for golf apparel.
Right in the center of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve is the Arizona Biltmore Golf Club. Courses include the Links Course and the Abode Course.
Abode is a traditional-style course with panoramic views of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Links — the younger course — is a favorite among the regulars at the club. The par 71, the 6,300-yard course boasts fairways speckled with pines.
Both courses offer spectacular views of the Mountains, desert landscape, and beautiful lakes. Since it first opened its doors, several celebrities, politicians, and prominent people have played on the golf course.
- Notable feature: High-end golf course featuring two 18-hole courses and an onsite restaurant.
- Location: 2400 E Missouri Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85016, United States
Enjoy Your Stay in Phoenix
The beauty of Phoenix Mountain Preserve’s nature trails, coupled with renowned restaurants, golf courses, and art galleries, make it a fantastic vacation destination.
Book one of our luxurious Arizona rentals for the best sleep of your life after a long day of exploring!