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Arizona

From $2,595

  • 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 sunny days of hiking on moderate terrain with sweeping vistas at every turn
  • 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

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.
 

Day 1: Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

Meet in the hotel lobby of the Holiday Inn Express in Scottsdale, Arizona by 8 a.m., ready to venture out of this fifth largest city in the country. 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, which begins by passing through a bosque of mesquite trees, where we may startle a few whiptail lizards and vermillion flycatchers along our way. Here, we'll take in amazing views of Tonto National Forest and the amazing landscape beyond. We'll stop for a refreshing lunch break before a short drive to our idyllic lodging for the next two nights. (5.5 miles hiking, 600 feet elevation gain and loss)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Carefree Resort

Day 2: McDowell Sonoran Preserve and Lower Salt River

We'll head southeast to the waters of the lower Salt River where we'll kick back in kayaks on a beginner friendly stretch of river. Enjoy your guide's descriptions of this amazingly diverse ecosystem as we float peacefully along. Keep your eyes open for wild horses, bald eagles, and river otters as the cool water winds west past Red Mountain towards the Valley of the Sun.   After a riverside picnic lunch, we drive scenic by-ways to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and the Tom's Thumb trailhead. This is a great climb into rambling granite  boulders and monoliths. At the summit we can take in the whole Valley of the Sun. In a  few brief moments, we find ourselves away from the sounds of civilization,  crossing over a cactus-laden hill into a wide ravine shadowed by towering giant saguaros. Enjoy your guide's descriptions of this amazingly diverse ecosystem and keep your eyes peeled for deer, red tailed hawks and rock climbers.

(5 miles hiking, 1360 feet elevation gain and loss)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Carefree Resort

Day 3: Saguaro National Park and the Sonoran Desert Museum

After a great breakfast we drive south to the outskirts of Tucson to visit the famous Arizona Sonora Desert Museum and Saguaro National Park, which lie in a valley between the Rincon and Tucson mountain ranges. We spend some time exploring this world-renowned natural history museum, zoo, and botanical garden, which features over 1,200 plants and animals such as the adorable—though unforgivably poisonous—Gila monster. A delicious lunch awaits us at the gourmet Ocotillo Café. After lunch a short stroll takes us ‘ringside’ to view the Raptor Free Flight where we see an ever-changing assortment of free flying birds of prey in their natural habitat and learn the fascinating behavior and adaptions these beautiful birds exhibit.  When the show concludes we continue our journey of discovery into adjacent Saguaro National Park.

A classic symbol of the American West and a staple in any desert-themed movie, the stately saguaro cactus (pronounced ‘Sa-WAH-ro’) grows naturally only in the Sonoran Desert (roughly 1.6 million individual saguaros grow in the national park alone).  Walk among these giants on our hikes today, which take us to Signal Hill where hundreds of ancient petroglyphs are carved into the dark desert varnish and then up the Sendero-Espinoza trail to a scenic ridge in the Tucson Mountains.

 (4 miles hiking, 500 feet elevation gain and loss)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Westward Look Resort

Day 4: Pusch Ridge Wilderness

Wake up to Tucson’s gorgeous mountain backdrop. The city is almost completely surrounded by these geologic marvels and “sky islands,” amazing biomes that are essentially high-elevation forests surrounded by a sea of dramatic lowland desert.

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.

We ascend in the cool morning hours to the beautiful polished granite of Romero Pools where a clear, spring fed stream bubbles down the mountain. It is easy to imagine the ancient peoples of the Southwest gathering here to bathe, relax, and socialize; just as us modern visitors do. Don’t forget your swimsuit and towel as we will have plenty of time to enjoy the deep pools and warm smooth rocks.

A delicious guide prepared lunch will be enjoyed at this idyllic spot before beginning our hike back, enjoying the views and keeping watch for Desert Bighorn Sheep which have been re-introduced into this area.

(7 miles hiking, 1100 feet elevation gain and loss)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Westward Look Resort

Day 5: Sabino Canyon and Seven Falls

Bring along water shoes and a bathing suit because today’s desert hike eventually leads to rejuvenating Seven Falls! After crossing Sabino Creek our trail rises up the side of Bear Canyon, leveling off at Seven Falls. Take a dip and a relaxing lunch break on the smooth boulders beside a series of pools, before our hike down through this beautiful riparian oasis. Before dinner, experience the pride and joy of Arizona as we drive up Santa Catalina Highway to Windy Point for an unbeatable sunset. (5 miles hiking, 650 feet elevation gain and loss)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Westward Look Resort

Day 6: Superstition Mountains Wilderness

Awaken for a hearty breakfast before we depart for the Peralta Trail in the Superstition Mountains. Apache folklore runs along the trails and streambeds, and through the caves and canyons of these rocky desert mountains. Learn the legend of the Lost Dutchman, and listen for the call of the wild once lured explorers with hopes of gold and hidden treasure. Enjoy your lunch in the warmth of the sun, or the shade of a Cottonwood tree, as your guide shares stories and natural history of the area before we hike back to the trailhead.

From here we return to the Phoenix Airport where you can depart on early evening flight—or you can stay on and enjoy more of the desert sunshine! (5 miles hiking, 1200 feet elevation gain and loss)

  • Breakfast/Lunch

Nov 08 - 13, 2015

Dec 06 - 11, 2015

Feb 21 - 26, 2016

Mar 13 - 18, 2016

Apr 03 - 08, 2016

Nov 06 - 11, 2016

Dec 04 - 09, 2016

pricing

2015 Prices
$2,595 (8-12 members)
$2,795 (5-7 members)
$550 single supplement

2016 Prices
$2,795 (8-12 members)
$2,995 (3-7 members)
$550 single supplement

Rates quoted are per person, based on sharing double accommodations.

If you prefer single accommodations, you must pay the Single Supplement Fee. If you’re traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we’ll try our best to find you a roommate. If that’s not possible, we will only charge you half of the single supplement.

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Carefree Resort — Carefree, AZ

Just North of Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona lies a desert gem, the Carefree Resort & Conference Center. Here you can embrace the Southwestern lifestyle in total relaxation. It’s a place of soothing and simple spaces with uncluttered panoramic views of the Continental Mountains. Play tennis, enjoy the Spa, or simply relax at the pool with a margarita. For couples, families or groups, Carefree Resort & Conference Center is a year-round destination that truly lives up to its name.

Westward Look Resort — Tucson, 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.

  • 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 sunny days of hiking on moderate terrain with sweeping vistas at every turn
  • 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

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.
 

DAILY itinerary

Day 1: Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

Meet in the hotel lobby of the Holiday Inn Express in Scottsdale, Arizona by 8 a.m., ready to venture out of this fifth largest city in the country. 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, which begins by passing through a bosque of mesquite trees, where we may startle a few whiptail lizards and vermillion flycatchers along our way. Here, we'll take in amazing views of Tonto National Forest and the amazing landscape beyond. We'll stop for a refreshing lunch break before a short drive to our idyllic lodging for the next two nights. (5.5 miles hiking, 600 feet elevation gain and loss)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Carefree Resort

Day 2: McDowell Sonoran Preserve and Lower Salt River

We'll head southeast to the waters of the lower Salt River where we'll kick back in kayaks on a beginner friendly stretch of river. Enjoy your guide's descriptions of this amazingly diverse ecosystem as we float peacefully along. Keep your eyes open for wild horses, bald eagles, and river otters as the cool water winds west past Red Mountain towards the Valley of the Sun.   After a riverside picnic lunch, we drive scenic by-ways to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and the Tom's Thumb trailhead. This is a great climb into rambling granite  boulders and monoliths. At the summit we can take in the whole Valley of the Sun. In a  few brief moments, we find ourselves away from the sounds of civilization,  crossing over a cactus-laden hill into a wide ravine shadowed by towering giant saguaros. Enjoy your guide's descriptions of this amazingly diverse ecosystem and keep your eyes peeled for deer, red tailed hawks and rock climbers.

(5 miles hiking, 1360 feet elevation gain and loss)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Carefree Resort

Day 3: Saguaro National Park and the Sonoran Desert Museum

After a great breakfast we drive south to the outskirts of Tucson to visit the famous Arizona Sonora Desert Museum and Saguaro National Park, which lie in a valley between the Rincon and Tucson mountain ranges. We spend some time exploring this world-renowned natural history museum, zoo, and botanical garden, which features over 1,200 plants and animals such as the adorable—though unforgivably poisonous—Gila monster. A delicious lunch awaits us at the gourmet Ocotillo Café. After lunch a short stroll takes us ‘ringside’ to view the Raptor Free Flight where we see an ever-changing assortment of free flying birds of prey in their natural habitat and learn the fascinating behavior and adaptions these beautiful birds exhibit.  When the show concludes we continue our journey of discovery into adjacent Saguaro National Park.

A classic symbol of the American West and a staple in any desert-themed movie, the stately saguaro cactus (pronounced ‘Sa-WAH-ro’) grows naturally only in the Sonoran Desert (roughly 1.6 million individual saguaros grow in the national park alone).  Walk among these giants on our hikes today, which take us to Signal Hill where hundreds of ancient petroglyphs are carved into the dark desert varnish and then up the Sendero-Espinoza trail to a scenic ridge in the Tucson Mountains.

 (4 miles hiking, 500 feet elevation gain and loss)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Westward Look Resort

Day 4: Pusch Ridge Wilderness

Wake up to Tucson’s gorgeous mountain backdrop. The city is almost completely surrounded by these geologic marvels and “sky islands,” amazing biomes that are essentially high-elevation forests surrounded by a sea of dramatic lowland desert.

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.

We ascend in the cool morning hours to the beautiful polished granite of Romero Pools where a clear, spring fed stream bubbles down the mountain. It is easy to imagine the ancient peoples of the Southwest gathering here to bathe, relax, and socialize; just as us modern visitors do. Don’t forget your swimsuit and towel as we will have plenty of time to enjoy the deep pools and warm smooth rocks.

A delicious guide prepared lunch will be enjoyed at this idyllic spot before beginning our hike back, enjoying the views and keeping watch for Desert Bighorn Sheep which have been re-introduced into this area.

(7 miles hiking, 1100 feet elevation gain and loss)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Westward Look Resort

Day 5: Sabino Canyon and Seven Falls

Bring along water shoes and a bathing suit because today’s desert hike eventually leads to rejuvenating Seven Falls! After crossing Sabino Creek our trail rises up the side of Bear Canyon, leveling off at Seven Falls. Take a dip and a relaxing lunch break on the smooth boulders beside a series of pools, before our hike down through this beautiful riparian oasis. Before dinner, experience the pride and joy of Arizona as we drive up Santa Catalina Highway to Windy Point for an unbeatable sunset. (5 miles hiking, 650 feet elevation gain and loss)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Westward Look Resort

Day 6: Superstition Mountains Wilderness

Awaken for a hearty breakfast before we depart for the Peralta Trail in the Superstition Mountains. Apache folklore runs along the trails and streambeds, and through the caves and canyons of these rocky desert mountains. Learn the legend of the Lost Dutchman, and listen for the call of the wild once lured explorers with hopes of gold and hidden treasure. Enjoy your lunch in the warmth of the sun, or the shade of a Cottonwood tree, as your guide shares stories and natural history of the area before we hike back to the trailhead.

From here we return to the Phoenix Airport where you can depart on early evening flight—or you can stay on and enjoy more of the desert sunshine! (5 miles hiking, 1200 feet elevation gain and loss)

  • Breakfast/Lunch

Carefree Resort — Carefree, AZ

Just North of Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona lies a desert gem, the Carefree Resort & Conference Center. Here you can embrace the Southwestern lifestyle in total relaxation. It’s a place of soothing and simple spaces with uncluttered panoramic views of the Continental Mountains. Play tennis, enjoy the Spa, or simply relax at the pool with a margarita. For couples, families or groups, Carefree Resort & Conference Center is a year-round destination that truly lives up to its name.

Westward Look Resort — Tucson, 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.

Dates and Pricing

Nov 08 - 13, 2015

Dec 06 - 11, 2015

Feb 21 - 26, 2016

Mar 13 - 18, 2016

Apr 03 - 08, 2016

Nov 06 - 11, 2016

Dec 04 - 09, 2016

pricing

2015 Prices
$2,595 (8-12 members)
$2,795 (5-7 members)
$550 single supplement

2016 Prices
$2,795 (8-12 members)
$2,995 (3-7 members)
$550 single supplement

Rates quoted are per person, based on sharing double accommodations.

If you prefer single accommodations, you must pay the Single Supplement Fee. If you’re traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we’ll try our best to find you a roommate. If that’s not possible, we will only charge you half of the single supplement.

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Award-winning journeys recognized by Travel +Leisure

Award-winning journeys recognized by Travel +Leisure