As lockdown restrictions begin to ease across the UK and an international framework to reopen borders is tentatively put in place, it is time to start planning trips beyond our shores.
With stunning landscapes and endless outdoor adventures, Scottsdale, Arizona is the ultimate post-lockdown escape for travellers to relax, restore and rejuvenate in scenic surroundings… Especially as the US is expected to be given the go ahead on the green list in due course.
With 300 days of sunshine a year and an array of awe-inspiring landscapes on its doorstep, Scottsdale is the perfect post-lockdown destination for travellers to get back to the great outdoors.
After a year of being stuck inside and glued to digital devices, travellers can disconnect in the vast Sonoran Desert and scale majestic mountains or immerse themselves in a rejuvenating and healing escape in nature.
WHAT TO DO IN THE DESERT
Enjoy action packed adventures at McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Located on Scottsdale’s doorstep, the 30,000 acre McDowell Sonoran Preserve offers travellers a variety of action packed adventures to explore its rolling desert hills and one-of-a-kind flora and fauna features. Visitors can explore the vast valley expanse with high-octane hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, rock-climbing and trail running experiences. With more than 100 miles of trails and 225 miles of biking trails across the unspoiled location, the preserve is ideal for adrenaline junkies to experience unburdened exhilaration in the outdoors once again. For those eager to discover more about the Preserve, daily education programmes led by Preserve volunteers offer guests the chance to learn about the desert wildlife, fascinating geology, unique habitats and local history of the area.
Soak up the sunrise hiking Camelback Mountain
After months spent in lockdown, it’s no surprise that many have found a new love for walking and a sunrise hike up Camelback Mountain is the perfect way to seize the day. With an elevation of 2,704 feet (taller than the Empire State Building), the Echo Canyon trail is a steep climb to the summit and is the most challenging hike in Scottsdale. However, the reward is an incredible sense of achievement and offers stunning panoramic views across the city. Along the way, climbers can weave between the majestic Saguaro cacti or take plenty of opportunities to pause and mediate. As well as being a physical challenge, Camelback Mountain also provides an ideal setting to take a deep breath and unwind, much needed after the past year.
Cruise and kayak down the Lower Salt River
Scottsdale’s scenic waterways offer an alternative desert discovery for travellers to take to the water, soak up the sunshine and marvel at meandering views of the Sonoran Desert. Located 30 miles east of Scottsdale, Lower Salt River offers activities on the water to suit every type of traveller. For those looking to enjoy the river at a slower pace, the calm waters of the serene Lower Salt River are ideal for gentle kayaking, rafting, tubing and stand-up paddle boarding, perfect for guests to find peace on the water whilst taking in the views of towering cliffs and keeping an eye out for desert wildlife. Alternatively, for adrenaline seekers out there looking to challenge themselves, the Upper Salt River offers wild white-water thrills on class III and IV rapids.
Disconnect to reconnect at Castle Hot Springs
Located northwest of Scottsdale at the base of the Bradshaw Mountains lies Castle Hot Springs, an adult-only secluded oasis and palm tree lined haven that invites travellers on a digital detox. Employing the mantra of reconnecting the mind by disconnecting from technology, the resort offers guests limited mobile phone service throughout to allow them to fully unwind from the stresses and realities of everyday life. What’s more, the resort’s three hot springs pools are filled with mineral rich water from a nearby natural canyon spring, meaning guests can emerge from a long soak feeling renewed and revitalised. Practicing mindfulness in nature and taking time away from technology is a great way for travellers to refocus their mental wellbeing and when they feel the need to truly switch off, Castle Hot Springs is ready and waiting.
Stargaze in the desert
For travellers eager to calm the mind, reconnect with nature and to see the night sky as brilliant as nature intended, stargazing should be top of the list. Unlike most cities, Scottsdale is optimal for stargazing year-round with its desert landscape, low light pollution and clear night skies. With Arizona home to the International Dark-Sky Association, which combats light pollution and raises awareness of the value of dark skies, Scottsdale offers incredible experiences for both novices and budding astronomers. Summer nights can be spent walking under the stars at Pinnacle Peak Park on a full moon hike or in a 4×4 vehicle, navigating through the pitch-black Sonoran Desert on a night-vision drive. Alternatively, during a stay at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale, as the night draws in guests can join a complimentary tour led by astrologist Richard Allen, often with sightings of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars depending on the time of year. For those wanting to stay indoors, stars can be spotted from the comfort of the bedrooms with state-of-the-art telescopes and constellation charts in every suite. For something a little more romantic, couples can enjoy a celestial picnic under the starry sky including cosy blankets, a constellation chart, telescope, photographer and personal butler for the evening.