ABCs of Southwestern Outdoor Adventure Vacations

The ABCs of Southwestern Outdoor Adventure Vacations

A is for Adventures in the Southwest.
Sure, you can make your next stay in the Southwest all about massages and manicures or the world-renowned buffets. Or… on your next Southwestern outdoor adventure vacation, you can go out and GET ACTIVE! Try one of these ideas:

B is for Ballooning over the desert.
You’ll find hot air balloon tour companies and launch sites around Phoenix. Consider gondola capacities and safety records as well as packages and prices.

C is for ’Coptering over Hoover Dam.
The Dam Helicopter Co. operates out of Boulder City, Nevada, 40 minutes from Las Vegas.

D is for Death Valley National Park in California.
You’ll be well-rested after your a 2 ½-hour drive from Las Vegas for one of the easy to moderate hikes detailed on the National Park Service website’s Death Valley page. Spare your car from this rigorous day trip by using your Bluegreen discount at Enterprise® Rent-A-Car.

E is for Eco-volunteerism.
Visit the Nature Conservancy website for more information.

F is for Fishing… in Las Vegas?
Yep. Catch rainbow trout, crappie, catfish and more year-round at Floyd Lamb Park just north of town.

G is for gold panning—seriously!
Gold panningA walking tour of Techatticup Gold Mine is one highlight of the half-day Eldorado Canyon ATV Tour 1 hour outside Las Vegas.

H is for Horseback riding.
Saddle up at M Diamond Ranch, a 100-year-old cattle ranch near Sedona, Arizona, for rides ranging from 1 to 2½ hours.

I is for Ironman 70.3 Silverman.
The triathlon (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride, 13.1-mile run) is in the Lake Mead area. Learn about the event here.

J is for Jogging.
You’ll find plenty of scenic and challenging trails around Phoenix, including South Mountain Park and Reserve, Camelback Mountain and Papago Park.

K is for Kayaking on Lake Pleasant.
Just north of Cibola Vista is Lake Pleasant. You can rent single or tandem kayaks from Go Paddle AZ at the Pleasant Harbor Marina.

L is for Lake Mead paddle tours.
Take a Lake Mead paddle tour on Versa Boards, which can be used both as a traditional kayak and stand-up paddleboard. Visit

M is for Mountain climbingM is for Mountain climbing.
Beginners and advanced climbers alike are welcome to book lessons at Red Rock, 20 minutes from Las Vegas, with the American Alpine Institute.

N is for Night fishing on Lake Pleasant.
Beat the summer desert heat as you reel in striped bass under the stars. Bring a submersible fishing light and pizza toppings—shrimp and anchovies make fine bait.

O is for Open-air jeep tours of the Sonoran Desert.
Tour the Sonoran Desert with Arizona Desert Mountain Jeep Tours in Scottsdale.

P is for Peppersauce Cave.
Near Oracle, Arizona, about 3 hours from Phoenix is a “wild” cave in the Santa Catalina Mountains. It provides no guides or safety guarantees and isn’t for rookies. But if you’re fit, and slim enough to belly crawl through tiny apertures, then look it up on YouTube—and if you go for it, don’t go alone.

Q is for Quarry Pines Golf Club.
Located about 2½ hours southeast of Phoenix, golfers can experience a uniquely dramatic layout with 10 of the 18 holes inside an abandoned sand and gravel quarry.

R is for Rafting
Go into the placid waters of the Colorado River on a half-day excursion calm enough for 4-year-olds. The trips begin and end in Page, Arizona, 4 ½ hours from both Phoenix and Las Vegas.

S is for Sedona mountain biking.
Enjoy a 2-hour guided climb through the red rocks.

T is for Tour Trekker.
The Tour Trekker is an upgrade available at Pink Jeep Tours Las Vegas that brings luxury to an all-terrain, round-trip sightseeing tour of the Grand Canyon.

U is for Ultimate.
A rugged recreational team sport played with Frisbee-style disc that’s highly popular in Phoenix. You can actually go online while on vacation there to find pickup games.

V is for “Vertical zip lining”
Go down 855 feet from the 108th floor of the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino Tower to a landing mat at the base. Visit

SkyJump™ Las VegasW is for White water rafting.
Go white water rafting on the remote Salt River, a half-day excursion 2 ½ hours east of Phoenix. These trips are available during winter runoff season only, early March through early May.

X is for “X Games” disciplines.
Join in at Arizona Snowbowl, near Flagstaff. Learn and practice freestyle tricks as this top ski destination featuring terrain parks for all levels and committed to education and safety.

Y is for Yoga in the desert.
Learn about various classes that combine outdoor yoga with desert hiking.

Z is for Zip lining.
Zip 8,000 feet from the top of Red Mountain (elevation 3,800 feet) to the floor of Bootleg Canyon in Nevada. Traveling at speeds up to 50 mph from platform to platform, you’ll get an adrenaline rush like to other, not to mention a view like no other of the Vegas Strip, 30 minutes away.

Photo Credit: Matt Belton cc

Adventurous Outdoor Excursions