Arizona Hiking: 15 Top-Rated Hikes in Arizona
Thinking about go hiking in Arizona and are not sure where to start? I get you, it can be hard since Arizona has an absurd amount of hiking options – including the incredible hikes in Sedona.
This guide compiles the best varieties and options to go hiking in Arizona, from the high country to the low desert, and everything in between. There are hiking trails in Arizona that are sure to challenge you and views that are sure to amaze.
In order to optimize your time and help your research prior to choosing the best hikes in Arizona, check this guide with the most spectacular hiking in Arizona and check the section TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES at the end to make sure you are well-prepared while hiking in Arizona.
This guide is illustrated with stunning pictures of the best hikes in Arizona, and also, has all the practical information you need to choose your bucket-list hiking for your next adventure vacation in Arizona.
Many of these hikes are easy and can be done by anyone. A couple of the hikes are epic and I recommend following a Plan for Hiking Fitness preparation prior to attempting any long or challenging hike.
Plan your next adventure with this complete list of best hikes in Arizona and safe travels.
In this guide of best places to go hiking in Arizona, you will find:
- All the best hikes in Arizona and what to look for
- How to pick the best trail for you
- The best tips and practical information before you go
- Essential Items to pack for your trip
- Best options for accommodation in each location
- BONUS SECTION: Trip Planning Resources with all you need to plan and book your Hiking in Arizona trip and to make your experience as easy, safe, and fun as possible
Essential Tips for Hiking in Arizona
- Start Early: the afternoon heat is much more punishing than the morning. Also, to avoid traffic.
- Navigation is Important: Arizona has a lot of dead zones, so please do not rely on cell service.
- Difficult Hiking Trails: “Difficult Hiking Trails” are characterized by steep elevations, increasingly difficult terrain, and longer distances. Experienced hikers should only attempt these trails
- Be physically prepared: Many of these hikes are easy and can be done by anyone. A couple of the hikes are epic and I recommend following a Plan for Hiking Fitness preparation prior to attempting any long or challenging hike.
- Bring plenty of water: Remember you will outdoors in the sun you will need to drink a lot of water. My LifeStraw Filtered Water Bottle. has been my life safer I can refill this bottle anywhere and it comes with a carabiner to connect it to my daypack.
- Be Aware of the Wildlife: Snakes, spiders, and scorpions all come with their own threats and have their own treatments. Make sure you know how to identify the dangerous creatures and what to do in case they decide to make you their prey. I recommend carrying bear spray with you.
- Check the Weather: Especially in the summer and monsoon seasons. Be sure to check the weather for your intended location, as well as the surrounding areas. The weather can change very quickly in the desert, with storms rolling in with little to no warning
- Travel safe: Don’t forget to buy Travel Insurance. Considering that anything can go wrong with any trip, we don’t want to risk the fun, right?
- Leave no Trace: Be a responsible traveler, it is all about enjoying nature and ensure you help to preserve the environment.
1- HORSESHOE BEND - Easy Arizona hiking with breathtaking views
Let’s start this list of the best places to go hiking in Arizona with Horseshoe Bend. One of those wonders that was carved out over millennia by the waters of the Colorado River as it made its way down through the Grand Canyon.
The hike will start from the parking lot and is extremely easy to follow. The first part of the trail up to the gazebo is all uphill, but it is a gentle climb.
Dogs are also able to use this trail, but they must be kept on a leash all the time.
To visit and hike the Horseshoe Bend you need to pay the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area fee of $30 per vehicle or $25 per motorcycle. If you are visiting by bike or foot, the fee is $15 per person. Or you can always purchase the National Park annual pass for $55.
The afternoons and evenings are the best times to take pictures of Horseshoe Bend. Since the bend is so wide, you’ll want to have a wide angle lens to fit the entire bend in your photograph, although pretty much any picture taken there will be impressive.
2 - ANTELOPE CANYON: One of the most fascinating hikes in Arizona
Known by the Navajo as “the place where water runs through rocks”, Antelope Canyon was formed over the course of hundreds of years by water running through the delicate sandstone.
With the upper section of the canyon sitting at around 4,000 feet above sea level, the nooks and crannies are remarkably intricate.
Hikes during mid-day will pay off with extraordinary sights as the sun shines through the sandstone shafts, illuminating the canyon’s gold and orange walls. This effect has been captured by some of the world’s most famous photographers, making Antelope Canyon one of the most sought after destinations in the world.
There are two hikes offered at Antelope Canyon—Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon.
Upper Antelope Canyon, sitting at ground level, is the most popular entrance to the park. This hike is quite simple and accommodates thousands of visitors every year.
The Lower Antelope Canyon requires walking up and down several flights of stairs and ladders found throughout the canyon. While the lower loop is more challenging than the upper, it is definitely worth the effort for the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
3- THE WAVE: One of the most epic hikes in Arizona
The Wave is one of the most epic places to hike to in Arizona. This bucket-list destination is known for its beautiful red and orange wave-like sandstone formations. It’s absolutely amazing!
However, you must be the lucky winner of the permit lottery to be able to hike to this epic spot. Each day, 64 people are allotted permits to hike there – 48 through the online lottery, and 16 through the walk-up lottery.
You can apply to the online lottery 4 months in advance, or you can show up at the Grand Staircase Escalante Visitor Center in Kanab, UT the day prior to trying your chance at the walk-in lottery.
The hike itself is about 8 miles round trip, starting from the Wirepass Trailhead. It’s about a 1-hour drive to the trailhead from the town of Kanab. While the hike isn’t super strenuous, it can be hard to navigate as there is little signage on the trail.
I highly recommend hiring a local guide (like Dreamland Safaris) to do the hike with if you aren’t super skilled with route-finding. Once you reach The Wave, it’s time for some awesome photo-ops! It seriously looks like another planet up there. It’s stunning!
4- HAVASU FALLS - A phenomenal hike in Arizona with a waterfall
Havasu Falls is not only one of the best hikes in Arizona, but it is seriously one of the best hikes anywhere!
It has become one of the most popular hikes in the United States, thanks to the incredible waterfalls you will find in this desert oasis. Because it is so popular, you have to plan well in advance to even have a chance to get permits in the annual lottery, but it’s totally worth the effort.
The Havasu Falls hike is located in the Grand Canyon on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, which is the most remote village in the US.
A permit and campground reservation are required for the hike, so be prepared to backpack the trail. The hike is 10 miles, and you will be rewarded with a truly breathtaking view of the stunning turquoise waterfalls contrasting against the red sandstone of the landscape.
You are required to stay at the Havasupai Campground or Lodge and your campground reservation is for three nights, which will give you plenty of time to hike around to all five waterfalls and splash in the water to cool off from the desert heat.
This unique hike is absolutely worth all of the hype, so add Havasu Falls high on your list of hikes to do in Arizona!
5- BRIGHT ANGEL TRAIL: The Most well-known trail from the South Rim of Grand Canyon
Pictures of Grand Canyon do not do their grandeur and sheer size justice. Most people see it from the rim, but experiencing it from inside and being surrounded by the canyon walls gives a whole new perspective.
The Bright Angel Trail is the most well-known trail from the South Rim of Grand Canyon down to the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon.
The trail passes through a tunnel cut through the rock and proceeds down four sets of steep switchbacks, before crossing a suspension bridge over the river and ending at Phantom Ranch.
If you wish to hike the entire length, you will need to stay inside the canyon, either at Phantom Ranch (cabins and dorms) or a campground. Reservations are difficult to get, but if you can, this is a unique experience that few visitors to Grand Canyon have.
There are several lodges in Grand Canyon Village. The best is El Tovar, which you can easily book on Airbnb. There are also plenty of hotels in Tusayan, just outside the park. The Grand Hotel is a good choice.
If you are doing this as a day hike, then the last point to turn back is Indian Garden, about halfway down. Indian Garden has trees, picnic tables, natural spring water, and even the remains of ancient structures built by Native Americans, who also had the garden that gives the area its current name. It’s a great place for lunch.
Along the way, there are also 1.5-Mile Resthouse and 3-Mile Resthouse, where you can stop, hydrate, and rest before either turning back or continuing on.
Being surrounded by the towering walls of the canyon is a truly awe-inspiring experience. However, you will need a reasonable level of fitness for the hike.
6 - SOUTH KAIBAB TRAIL: A classic Grand Canyon Hike
The Grand Canyon has always been a beacon for tourists.
In years past, private individuals, who owned parts of the park, charged a toll for visitors to hike on some of its trails, like its famous Bright Angel hike.
In 1924, in an effort to circumvent these privately owned trails, the National Park Service constructed the South Kaibab trail.
Even after legal battles resolved the tolling issue along the former privately-owned trails, the South Kaibab trail remains one of the most preeminent hikes in the park, taking visitors from the canyon’s rim and down, via a series of switchbacks, into the belly of the canyon.
Several viewpoints along the way, like Ooh-Aah Point and Skeleton Point, offer sweeping panoramic views of the canyon and, from the latter viewpoint, a peek at the Colorado River below, making this trail not-to-be-missed during any stop in the park.
7- CAPE FINAL: A hidden-gem Arizona hiking trail
8- DEVILS BRIDGE: An easy and incredible hike in Sedona
9 - CANYON DE CHELLY: The opportunity to go hiking with a Native American guide
In the northeastern part of Arizona outside of the typical tourist path is the breathtaking Canyon de Chelly.
It’s located next to the town of Chinle on Native American lands.
You are required to have a local approved guide to enter the canyon except for a few trails you can hike on your own. Stop at the visitor’s center for information.
Drive the rim and stop at the pullouts for the stunning views of Canyon de Chelly.
The Spider Rock Overlook offers one of the most spectacular views in the canyon of the Spider Rock spire. Hike the White House Trail to visit the White House ruin.
You can also hike the Sliding House Overlook trail to see a cliff dwelling ruin high in the canyon wall.
Don’t miss the opportunity to go into the canyon with a guide. Not only do you get amazing views from hiking inside the canyon, but you’ll get to know about the local people and how they live.
If you’re really lucky, you may even get invited home to meet some of the family!
10 - WILDCAT TRAIL: Incredible hiking in the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
Monument Valley is the quintessential classic wild west scenery. It is on Navajo land and is officially the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. For this reason, the Wildcat Trail is the only hike in Monument Valley that you can do without a Navajo guide.
The trail leaves from near the campground at The View. At the start, there are panoramic views of much of Monument Valley.
After a short and somewhat steep descent down soft sand dunes, the trail heads out towards the nearest butte, West Mitten. For the most part, though, the trail is fairly flat and easy to follow.
It passes fragrant sagebrush and dips down into a sandy wash at one point. The hike gives the unique opportunity of seeing West Mitten up close and from all directions. Seeing its shape change as you circle around is fascinating. Even more amazing? In the late afternoon sun, West Mitten glows such a bright orange that it looks like it is covered in molten lava.
For most of the year, the trail is closed between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm due to the dangers of extreme heat in summer.
You should register at the Visitor Center before heading out, and take lots of water. This is the desert, there is virtually no shade, and dehydration is a real risk. The trail itself is free, but there is a fee to enter Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.
11 - SEVEN FALLS: One of the hikes in Arizona with waterfalls views
Another incredible hiking in Arizona, 7 Falls is located right outside of Tucson and begins in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. This is where you can park your car, use the restroom and prepare for the hike.
One of the special things about hiking in Tucson and specifically the 7 Falls trail is the amount of Saguaro Cacti you will see along the trail.
This specific cactus can only be found in three places in the whole world; Mexico, California, and right here in Arizona.
The trail itself is easy to follow but we recommend you take the shuttle to the starting point. From there the trail is well marked and easy to follow.
If you are lucky enough you may even see a waterfall at the end of the hike. Depending on the season and the weather it may or may not be possible though.
12 - BLUE MESA TRAIL: Hike the Petrified Forest
Petrified Forest National Park is one of the most underrated of our park system, which means it’s likely you’ll have gorgeous hiking trails all to yourself. One of these hidden gems is the Blue Mesa trail.
This trail is a short loop that begins with a steep descent into the badlands of the park. Here you’ll be surrounded by a sea of purple and blue soft earth rising above you – the badlands.
Look up and you’ll notice the bands of colors that make this trail unique. Some of the badlands are striped with blues and purples.
In others, you’ll see coral stripes at the top. These wrinkly hills are incredibly picturesque, especially in the early morning light.
Plus, you’ll come across petrified wood, for which the park is named. Millions of years ago, a forest of trees used to stand where you’ll be standing.
These beautiful, crystallized logs of wood remain, some so perfectly cut that it boggles the mind that they were done by nature.
Note that there’s no shade on the trail, so bring a hiking hat. While the trail is fairly easy, the steep descent at the beginning means you’ll have a steep climb on the way back.
13 - ECHO CANYON LOOP: Incredible hiking at Chiricahua National Monument
14 - OAK CREEK: Hiking trails in Arizona to enjoy the nature
An amazing to go hike in Arizona is Oak Creek, and it is a must-do if you looking for things to do in Flagstaff.
Oak Creek Canyon is a beautiful river gorge (formed by Oak Creek) located in Northern Arizona between Sedona and Flagstaff. It is a wonderful place to hike in Arizona for many reasons.
First of all, the canyon is truly gorgeous and it is sometimes called a Younger Brother of Grand Canyon. Secondly, The Creek does not dry out during the dry season so it is a year-round destination. Since the Creek runs in the forest, there is a lot of shade to hide from the intense Arizona sun.
Finally, Oak Creek Canyon is also great for seeing wildlife, especially birds, including magnificent blue herons.
Oak Creek runs along HW 89A and there are many options to stop and start hiking. The trails with the best views run along the Creek.
We hiked from Cave Springs Campground. The trail in this area is easy. You can hike half a mile along the Creek and then connect to West Fork Trail which is 3.3 miles long.
Even if the campground itself is closed you can park along HW 89A and walk from there or park directly at West Fork trailhead.
15 - SUNSET CRATER VOLCANO: Arizona hike trail in the Lava Flow
One of the most unique hikes in Arizona is located on Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument which is located less than 25 miles north of Flagstaff Arizona, off-highway 89 – one of the main routes to the Grand Canyon. It is an easy stop and even if you only have a couple of hours.
One of the highlights of visiting Sunset Crater is exploring the Lava Flow Trail. While exploring the trail you can see lava “Squeeze ups”, spatter cones, and lava bubbles.
There is no climbing allowed on Sunset Crater Volcano itself. You can climb the one mile long Lenox Crater Trail to hike up a cinder cone within the park.
There isn’t a lot of hiking, but each hike is different. Other options to hike are Bonita Vista Trail (0.3 miles), A’A Trail (1.6 miles), Lava’s Edge Trail (3.4 miles)
Get started on the hike from the parking lot. The first quarter-mile is paved and very easy to walk. The rest of the trail takes you to the base of the volcano through lava flows and tubes. This is an incredible landscape to take in along your hike.
Arizona Hikes Must Pack Items
Bring a light jacket: Early morning or late night can get cold in the Sedona desert, so it is important to bring layers and a light jacket is always a must!
Bring your Camera: The Everglades landscape and wildlife are incredible, so don’t forget your camera, or check some great options for great value here
TRIP PLANING RESOURCES
PLANNING A TRIP TO ARIZONA
If you are going to travel to Arizona, pre-planning, research, and understanding what you are looking for will help make your travels far more successful and safe.
Here is some further information I think you might need to plan your trip:
WHEN TO VISIT ARIZONA
Arizona is a year-round destination, although people head to different parts of the state at different times of the year:
March-May: Can be a fantastic period with its pleasant temperatures and unbelievable blooms. This is when the number of visitors slowly starts to rise, but you can still make it to peaceful Antelope Canyon to catch a sunset.
SUMMER: Arizona is hot and crowded, and many attractions are packed shoulder to shoulder with visitors. So it’s better to inhale the fresh air by Cibecue, Havasu, or Tanque Verde Falls.
SPRING & FALL: This is a joyful time to head to Arizona with warm weather and plenty to do.
WINTER: If you’d prefer to save some money or can’t stand messing with crowds, numerous light parades and festivals will happily welcome you.
ARIZONA GUIDE BOOK & MAP
Some of the excellent guide books to help in preparation for your trip to Arizona.
RENTAL CAR IN ARIZONA
If you are planning to rent a car for your trip to Arizona, I recommend requesting a quote and comparing prices from different rental car providers to get the best deal.
TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR TRIP TO ARIZONA
It doesn’t matter if you going on a relaxing vacation, or on an exploration adventure trip. Things can go wrong on any trip, and never travel anywhere without having travel insurance.
I recommend reliable travel insurance through World Nomads before your trip.