5 Exciting Things to Do Outdoors in Tucson, Arizona - Sonoran Desert, Biking + More

Up Next:

Tucson's Colorful Art Scene: Murals, Music + More

cancel or

After exploring Tucson’s colorful art scene and famed Sonoran cuisine, we met up with John Heiman of Southwest Trekking to learn all about the most exciting outdoor activities the city has to offer.

It’s always a good idea to explore with a guide when you’re heading out into the exciting terrain of the Sonoran Desert. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker, professional athlete, or curious recreational visitor, you’ll need someone to show you around and educate you about the local animals, keep you away from any poisonous plants, and to identify the best routes along the way!

While some of Tucson’s natural wildlife preservations prohibit mechanical transportation means, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy cycling in the region. Today, the area boasts world-class mountain biking trails through the desert, the mountains, and everywhere in between. Road bikers also flock to the city for training opportunities; Mount Lemmon’s epic Catalina Highway draws professional and amateur road cyclists alike to the challenging 51 miles (up to Mount Lemmon ski area and back down) of prime pavement all year round.

  • Rock climbers and bouldering fans head to the Dragoon Mountains the seriously stellar climbing routes, including the internationally famed Cochise stronghold. While some advanced, multiple-pitch routes might be best left to professional or expert climbers, even beginners can get off to a rocky start (pun intended) thanks to the practice walls at the base.
  • If rock climbing isn’t your sport of choice, you can still enjoy aerial mountain views thanks to the Arizona Zip Line Adventures, which just so happens to be the longest zip lining route in the state.
  • Once you’re tuckered out from all that physical outdoor activity, don’t forget to take a relaxing stroll through some of Tucson’s less-intensive, au natural attractions. In the video above, Heiman also informs us that the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum is the second most visited attraction in the entire state of Arizona (only beat by the Grand Canyon,) but we also had a blast at the Tucson Botanical Gardens and Tohono Chul Park.
  • John also recommends a visit to the Pima Air and Space Museum, which is not only the largest privately-funded non-governmental aerospace museum in the world, but also one of the best-kept historic aircraft facilities in the country. Take a tour through the museum’s locally-dubbed ‘boneyard’ (technically the Department of Defense Aviation Reutilization and Maintenance Facility) where aircrafts no longer needed by the military are stored, repaired, and stripped down for parts. Oh, and no need to grab an umbrella -- there are plenty of tram and bus tours led by docents (often former Air Force Pilots) daily, rain or shine.

Filed Under: Arizona, biking, cycling, hiking

Get weekly tips from locals on where to eat, drink, and shop — whether you are traveling or finding more around the corner from you.