Our trip begins in Scottsdale, Arizona. We meet our adventure companions at our host hotel in Old Town Scottsdale in the afternoon, and after a quick welcome briefing we head to a favorite local brewery for a flight and a tour paired with local folklore. Next we transfer by private van to our campsite nestled in gorgeous McDowell Mountain Regional Park. As we leave the city behind, towering saguaro cactus begin to dot the landscape and the beauty of the Sonoran Desert fills our view. Our guide, not just an excellent host and backcountry chef, but also a skilled hiking and mountain biking guide, is waiting to greet us. Surrounded by colorful desert flora, we set up camp and pitch our tents before enjoying al fresco appetizers and a delicious dinner. We have time in the early evening to play around on our mountain bikes before beginning our first hike, the setting sun adding a palette of radiant colors to the desert landscape. Back at camp tonight, we enjoy each other’s company and bask in the glow of a flickering campfire beneath a canopy of brilliant stars. Dinner included.
Hiking: 4-5 miles, elevation gain/loss: 230'; Transfer: 1 hour.
At sunrise, the smell of fresh-brewed coffee fills the air, followed by a hearty breakfast. After fueling up, we make our first tracks in McDowell Mountain Regional Park. Our morning mountain bike ride (directly from camp) encompasses a portion of the fantastic Pemberton Loop Trail. Bordered by Tonto National Forest to the east and the McDowell Mountains to the west, the park allows for unobstructed views into several nearby mountain ranges. Our guides will help us master these flowing fun trails, kicking up dust and getting our hearts pumping. After a picnic lunch at a scenic trail-stop, we head back out to cover the remainder of the loop and possibly some spur trails before rolling over some super smooth, compacted downhill to finish off the day. Back at camp we can take refreshing showers, learn about the special Dutch oven dinner our guides are creating, and listen for coyotes announcing the sunset. After seeing who can build the best s’mores, we kick back under the starry Sonoran Desert sky in our tranquil camp. All meals included.
Mountain Biking: Up to 14-19 miles, elevation gain/loss: 1000’.
Slip out of your sleeping bag, shake off last night’s indulgences, and get ready for another action-packed day. After breakfast, choose an independent morning hike among the saguaro or hit the trails again for an amazing mountain bike skill-building session on the one-way, purpose-built competition loops McDowell Mountain Regional Park is famous for. From beginner to advanced, and including a fun pump track, this area of the park is not to be missed. We’ll return to camp for a picnic lunch and a wardrobe change before heading out to explore Saguaro Lake. We choose our own adventure and pick either inflatable kayak or stand-up paddleboard, then tool around in a peaceful cove surrounded by sunny shores. Experienced guides accompany us and help spot bald eagles, great blue heron, beaver, and even herds of wild mustangs! To celebrate our time together and savor this piece of paradise a bit longer, we’ll enjoy a special lakeside picnic dinner served by our guides under the colorful Arizona sky. In the distance, as the desert nightlife begins to stir, we may hear the song of the coyote, a permanent resident of this beautiful area. All meals included.
Activity options: Mountain Biking: 3-14 miles, elevation gain/loss: 975’; Hiking: Go as far as you'd like!; Half-day kayak or stand-up paddleboard session on Saguaro Lake.
Our last morning starts early so we can make the most of our time in the desert. Breakfast, showers, pack up camp. Then we set out on Tom’s Thumb Trail, one of the best hikes in the preserve. The climb to the peak requires a sustained ascent up numerous switchbacks, with sweeping views of the Phoenix valley at the top. Laughter and lunch at the summit, then a leisurely descent and drive back to Scottsdale. Arriving at out host hotel in the late afternoon, we say farewell to our guides and newfound friends. Drop off service to follow for those departing Phoenix this evening. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 4 miles, elevation gain/loss: 1,250’; Transfer: 1 hour.