McDowell Sonoran Conservancy
September 19, 2019
All kinds of natural beauty will surround you when visiting Scottsdale. Arizona is home to the majestic Sonoran Desert and its abundance of flora and wildlife. The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is located in Scottsdale, making it easy to spend countless hours exploring this untamed wilderness.
Protecting and Promoting the Preserve
Together with the city of Scottsdale, McDowell Sonoran Preserve maintains the incredible beauty of this area and allows passionate hikers and bikers to enjoy it. The conservancy uses science and research to continue to teach and discover how we can keep this wilderness in its pristine condition.
Useful Links for McDowell Sonoran Conservancy
What to Find
The McDowell Sonoran Preserve features over 225 miles of trails that can be enjoyed on foot or on your favorite mountain bike. In total, the preserve sits on over 30,000 acres and is the largest urban preserve in North America. Get ready to immerse yourself in the desert as the trails wander through cacti and boulders, while you watch for rattlers, lizards, and other desert wildlife.
Split in to two regions, Northern and Southern, the Preserve has trails for a wide variety of activities and abilities. Three trails are fully accessible – The Baja Nature Trail, Jane Rau Trail and the Kovach Family Trails. And these trails aren’t boring paved walkways running along the perimeter of a parking lot either. These trails wind through cacti, rock outcrops and feature scenic views of the surrounding area.
And there are so many ways to enjoy the Preserve’s trails too. Love to hike? Join one of the many free, guided hikes offered, or book a private hike for just your group. Or download a Preserve Trail Map and hike through the cacti over rocky desert terrain on your own.
There are plenty of mountain bike trails in the Preserve too! There are guided tours, or you can ride the trails on your own. Select from beginner’s trails to advance trails for bikers with great cardio and bike handling skills for those exciting steep descents. If you love riding and want to give back, consider becoming a member of the Conservancy’s Mountain Bike Patrol!
Really get into the western spirit and hit the trails on horseback! Or do some serious rock and mountain climbing. Designated rock climbing plans will make things easy for you to get started on this exciting sport.
Start your Preserve experience with some of the more popular trails. Tom’s Thumb Trail is a short out-and-back trail allowing leashed dogs. Rated as ‘difficult’, this trail features amazing views of Phoenix and the McDowell Mountains. Keep an eye out for desert wildlife – those rattlers love to sun on rocks near the trail.
The popular Gateway Loop Trail runs about 4 miles, is rated moderate and is also dog friendly (must be leashed). Like the Tom’s Thumb Trail, wildflowers abound on the Loop Trail. Other popular trails include the Sunrise Trail (Sunrise Peak at the top is the place to view the sunrise!), Inspiration Point and the Lost Dog Wash Trail.
Over 600 stewards work tirelessly to make sure the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy continues supporting the Sonoran Desert. After experiencing the amazing trail system that is the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, consider donating to the Conservancy or becoming a volunteer yourself.
If you wish to learn more about the Sonoran Desert and how the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy helps maintain this area, make sure you drop in to one of their education programming sessions. Adult education classes are held several times throughout the year by volunteers who share their expertise about the surrounding flora, geology, and wildlife in the Sonoran Desert. A list of available of classes can be obtained by calling the conservancy public education program.
Adults aren’t the only ones who can enjoy the educational classes; on select Sundays throughout the year you can bring your kids to the Family Sonoran Sunday sessions. Local organizations will be on hand to help educate your children on native animals to the region. The Family Sunday Sessions are held select Sundays from 3:00 PM to 3:45 PM and are great for children ages 6 and up.
Learn more while you hike when you take one of the Conservancy’s Sonoran Desert Educational Hike. The desert is your classroom as you learn more about the Sonoran Desert’s history, flora and fauna and geology!
Finding the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy
You can get more information from the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, including education class schedules, by calling 480-998-7971. The McDowell Sonoran Conservancy office can be found at 7729 East Greenway Road, Suite 100, Scottsdale, AZ 85260.
More to Do in Scottsdale
Get out during your Scottsdale excursion by visiting the Sonoran Desert with the help of McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. After your fun hike or bike ride through the desert, our luxury vacation villas will be waiting for you; they are the perfect spot to unwind after a day outdoors.