An exclusive MTS exploration of the Southwest’s lushest and most intriguing desert ecosystem
There's no place quite like the deserts and mountains of the American Southwest. Where else in the U.S. can you go in February or March to see carpets of wildflowers and hike beautiful, sun-warmed trails (in shorts, no less!)? While most of the country lies firmly in winter's icy grip, this corner of Arizona really comes alive, making it the peak time of year to visit our lushest desert ecosystem.
We've put together a star-studded itinerary that hits all the highlights of the region; the Superstiton Wilderness, decorated with rugged volcanic peaks; the Santa Catalina Mountains, with their waterfalls and migrating birds singing along rambling desert streams; and the Pusch Ridge Wilderness, famous for its craggy granite spires. And throughout the journey we'll be amid all the wonderous species that make up one of the most diverse ecosystems in the U.S., including—of course—the mighty and ever-present Saguaro cactus.
6 days moderate hiking
- Traverse North America’s lushest desert on this MTS exclusive itinerary, and get up close and personal with that iconic giant of the Southwest—the saguaro cactus
- Soak in six sunny days of hiking on moderate terrain with sweeping vistas at every turn
- Get away from it all in an otherworldly landscape, without traveling too far from home
- Learn about the plants, wildlife, and history of Arizona from our expert naturalist guides
- See ancient petroglyphs, kayak down the Salt River, and visit the Sonoran Desert Museum, a world-class natural history museum
Duration: 6 days Start Location: Phoenix End Location: PhoenixDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area
In the spring there is water in Cave Creek, and in the desert water is magic! We take a great hike on the Spur Cross Loop Trail near Elephant Mountain. (5.5 miles hiking, 600 feet elevation gain and loss)
Day 2 : McDowell Sonoran Preserve
We'll head northeast toward the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and the Tom's Thumb trailhead. We begin our trip with a great climb into rambling granite boulders. At the summit we can take in the whole Valley of the Sun. (4 miles hiking, 800 feet elevation gain and loss)
Day 3 : Pusch Ridge Wilderness
It is only a couple of hours to drive from the Valley of the Sun to the Santa Catalina Mountains, leaving us plenty of time for a great afternoon hike. We start hiking in Catalina State Park and soon thereafter find ourselves in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. The elevations in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness range from 2,800 to 9,100 feet, making this one of the most precipitous areas in the southwest. In fact, if you were to hike the entire mountain it would be like taking a trip from Mexico to Canada. (4-6 miles hiking, 600 feet elevation gain and loss)
Day 4 : Saguaro National Park and the Sonoran Desert Museum
Hike the high desert forests of Saguaro National Park and take an optional hike to the summit of Wasson Peak (4,687'), the highest peak in the Tuscon Mountains. Lunch and exploration at the world-renowned Sonoran Desert Museum. (3.5-7 miles hiking, 1100 feet elevation gain and loss)
Day 5 : Sabino Canyon and Seven Falls
Starting at the base of Sabino Canyon, we move into Bear Canyon and hike upstream to Seven Falls. It is rare to find water in the desert, and this is one of the most stunning places in the Sonoran Desert. (5 miles hiking, 650 feet elevation gain and loss)
Day 6 : Superstition Mountains Wilderness
Depart for the Peralta Trail in the Superstition Mountains. This route from the southern end of the Superstion Wilderness takes us up to a ridge overlooking Weaver's Needle. (5 miles hiking, 1200 feet elevation gain and loss)
DATES: Best time to go: February - April, October - November Departures: Nov 9 - 14, 2014 Dec 7 - 12, 2014
$550 single supplement
Rates quoted are per person, based on sharing double accommodations.
Cave Creek Tumbleweed HotelCave Creek, AZ
Cave Creek’s Tumbleweed hotel was established in 1968 by local Cave Creekers who wanted to continue the tradition of Cave Creek’s small town hospitality. The Tumbleweed Hotel is Cave Creek’s only main street hotel and continues to be part of the fabric of the town by maintaining its Western style decor.
Westward Look ResortTucson, AZ
It’s tranquil, yet mesmerizing. Private, yet wide open. A distinctive Tucson hotel where historic charm and modern luxury unite. Welcome to Westward Look Resort…Tucson’s first and finest resort.
Built in the early 1900s, our 80-acre, certified green resort is flawlessly set at the base of the striking Santa Catalina Mountains. A favorite Tucson hotel and vacation destination, Westward Look offers visitors of all ages the joy of getting close to nature with on-site hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. Views of the mountains and city below abound, creating a true sense of serenity.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.