Growing up in the Midwest, I loathed fall. The glory days of summer were waning and the dark days of winter encroaching. Now that I’m a desert dweller, I have a new love affair with Autumn. It’s a hiatus from spending on restaurants, play places, and all other air-conditioned safe havens. And it’s the best season to enjoy the beauty of our desert. I’ve traveled around the world and firmly believe Arizona is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Find where you can snap your next selfie with these free Scottsdale views:
This was my first hike here and still a favorite. Craving green? This is the escape for you as it highlights views of the lush North Scottsdale golf courses. It’s a perfect place to go with family to burn kid energy. It’s a workout, but not overly treacherous.
This trailhead in the Northern McDowells offers the quickest climb to the massive boulder known as Tom’s Thumb, as well as a more leisure flat course. Both trails provide breathtaking scenic views east into Four Peaks, the southern McDowells, and the ever-expanding Valley of the Sun.
If you haven’t hiked it yet, I promise it’s worth the 2700 foot climb to its “hump” to soak in the unobstructed 360° panoramic view of the entire valley and beyond.
Four Peaks is not just a brewing company. If you have a 4×4 vehicle or a friend who does, traveling up this rugged road will be unforgettable. You bumpily ascend to over 6,000 feet in elevation, higher than anywhere else in Maricopa County. Off road enthusiasts rate this trail as “easy,” but for this novice, it was a chart topping adventure marked by the most jaw-dropping views I’ve ever seen. Pack water, a full tank of gas, and a charged cell phone and plan for plenty of time to enjoy this trek (3 hours minimum).
A short drive north east of town, the best viewing of the colorful painted canyon walls is by water. I like to take my SUP out there. (You can rent them there most Saturdays too. Reservations required.) Butcher Jones Beach is also a sandy, shaded place to picnic, splash in the water, and soak in the sites.
Fountain Hills Scenic Overlook
Sweating it out in rattlesnake country isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (or season of life).
This overlook is an alternative you can drive right into. When entering Fountain Hills from Shea Blvd, it’s a small pull-off that is easy to miss. I used to pass this every day on my way into work and think to myself how lucky I am to have this as my commute. I may also have pulled in there once or twice to take a deep breath and regroup after driving around a toddler willing him to nap. Careful after daylight here, you may run into some teenagers steaming up the windows.
The Fry’s slightly west on Shea Blvd shares a similar view. If you run in for milk and eggs, make sure to stroll to the back of the parking lot and look out. It’s a million dollar view…perfect for, uh, a grocery store parking lot.
Do you have a favorite spot to stop and admire the desert views?