10 Best Outdoor Activities in Scottsdale: Fun in the Desert Sun

Scottsdale is home to some of the best outdoor spaces in the Valley of the Sun, which means there's never a shortage of outdoor activities.

One of the best places to enjoy the outdoors is McDowell Mountain Ranch Park, which features 35 acres of well-maintained public space. Visitors can lounge by the 600-foot lazy river, enjoy the 16,000 square-foot skate park, or make use of one of the swimming pool and three ball fields.

If hiking is your passion, head to Pinnacle Peak Park, a notable local landmark and popular hiking destination. The 150-acre park offers moderate hiking trails and excellent views of the Valley - if you can scale the trail summit. There's also an easy 1.7-mile hiking trail with smooth tread for hikers of all skill levels. In any case, be sure to bring a camera to capture the desert scenery.

One of the most popular outdoor activities in Scottsdale is golf, and there's no more legendary course than TPC Scottsdale. The course is home to one of the biggest golf tournaments in the world, the Waste Management Phoenix Open. With the natural scenic beauty of the McDowell Mountains in the background, players of all levels can enjoy the opportunity to play on the same course that is normally reserved for the pros.





El Dorado Park is one of the biggest municipal parks in Scottsdale, featuring 60 acres of green space and two lakes. This is a popular weekend destination, with four reservable ramadas, seven drop-in ramadas, three reservable picnic areas, and...  Read More



Plan to spend a day with the animals, over 1200 of them (including many endangered species), in this expansive park. The animals live in spacious enclosures, similar to the habitats they would have if they were in the wild. in addition, visitors...  Read More



Located in Papago Park, this garden features the world's largest outdoor desert plant collection. A vast array of colorful wildflowers has been strategically placed to create a spectacular display and delight visitors in the springtime, and...  Read More



Walking, running, biking and rollerblading are the activities of choice at Chaparral Park and Community Center, one of Scottsdale's largest and most popular community parks. The 100 acre park features a range of recreational opportunities and...  Read More



When you want an up-close experience with the majestic beauty of the desert, head to Pinnacle Peak Park in Scottsdale. Pinnacle Peak is one of the Valley's most iconic natural landmarks and a popular destination for local hikers and visitors....  Read More

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park


McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is a train-lover's haven located in the heart of Scottsdale, Arizona. The park offers train and carousel rides for all ages, open green space for family picnics, historic Arizona railroad artifacts, model...  Read More



MacDonald's Ranch is the Valley of the Sun's premier horseback riding stable. Located in beautiful North Scottsdale, MacDonald's Ranch offers guided horseback rides, hayrides, stagecoach rides, cowboy cookouts, and live entertainment. No matter...  Read More

TPC at Scottsdale – Stadium


TPC Scottsdale is home to the largest-attended golf tournament in the world, the perennial fan favorite Waste Management Phoenix Open, played here every winter. TPC Scottsdale is a favorite course of some of the sport's top players and...  Read More



This specialty park is a mega oasis for Scottsdale residents and visitors, featuring 35 acres of recreational amenities. The park is home to an aquatic center, skate park, soccer fields, ball fields, and even a 600-foot lazy river. McDowell...  Read More



The McDowell Sonoran Preserve protects more than 30,000 acres of pristine desert in north Scottsdale. This is a hiker's paradise, with more than 115 miles of trails, including more than 60 miles of shared-use trails. Trailhead gates are open...  Read More


Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega works as a writer and editor in Phoenix.