Located in the Sonoran Desert, Mesa is surrounded by a rich, vibrant and verdant playground for sought-after outdoor recreation. Within minutes of our collection of resorts and hotels, guests can immerse themselves into a legendary landscape – a region full of intrigue and awe that continues to inspire and amaze our visitors every day. From hiking mountain tops to kayaking along calm rivers and canyon-carved lakes, nearly every outdoor pursuit can be experienced here in the here in City Limitless®.
DAY 1 – EXPLORING THE SONORAN DESERT
NATURE CENTER DESERT TOUR – 1 hour
Educational series on the desert flora and fauna are offered daily. Programs feature talks with Ranger Brennan. Guided tours can be scheduled through Usery Mountain Regional Park. 30+ miles of trails climb enough in elevation to experience spectacular vistas of the Greater Phoenix skyline.
Arizona Outback Adventures is one of the few outfitters that lead guided pack trips into the Superstition Wilderness, part of the Tonto National Forest. Single and multiday hike and bike tours include an in-depth education on the Sonoran Desert. The extensive trails and jagged mountain peaks vary in length and height throughout the Superstition Mountain range. Overnight packing trips available.
BIRD WATCHING TOURS – 2 hours
Birding is a popular sport in Arizona, whose diverse terrain is home to more than 500 species. From hummingbirds and flycatchers to loons, herons and the occasional bald eagle, the birdwatching options are endless.
WILDFLOWER WALK – Seasonal
Wildflower season varies each year and is dependent on fall and winter rainfall amounts. Blooms are usually at their peak in mid-March. It’s a colorful time to hit the trail with scarlet displays of ocotillo blossoms, a yellow sea of Mexican poppies and the prickly pear cactus full of bright fuchsia colored fruit.
DAY 2 –ADVENTURES SET ON OVERDRIVE
FIGHTER COMBAT AERIAL FLIGHTS – 2 hours
Located at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, visitors can take a half-day flying lesson and embark on a Top Gun aerial mission. All flights are provided by a Military Fighter Pilot and include an authentic tactical briefing, air combat flying experience, formation, high-speed low-altitude fly-by and aerobatic maneuvers in the sky.
HIGH PERFORMANCE DRIVING – 3+ hours
Experience the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. Courses feature an adrenaline-pumping adventure at high speeds at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Classes start at three hours in length to a full-day experience.
HOT AIR BALLOON EXPERIENCE – 3 1/2 hours
Get picked up before sunrise at your Mesa hotel and taken to a launch site in the northern Sonoran Desert. Hot air ballooning offers one of the most tranquil views of the desert landscape. Each experience is followed by a hot breakfast.
CANYONEERING – Full Day
Hosted by 360 Adventures, this rugged excursion into the slot canyon walls of the Upper Salt River has visitors climbing cliff faces, rappelling into pine forest pools, and exploring hidden desert passages. Arizona’s natural terrain includes streams and cascading waterfalls and an incredible geology unlike anywhere else in the world.
FLY IN A WORLD WAR II BOMBER – 2 1/2 hours
Mesa is entrenched in aviation history and continues to serve as one of the leaders in aviation technology and education. At Commemorative Air Force Museum – Arizona Wing, daredevils can take to the skies on a variety of war birds and view aviation exhibits with experienced pilots. These thrilling aerial adventures include the popular Sentimental Journey – a B-17 Bomber known as WWII’s Flying Fortress.
DAY 3 – WATER FUN IN CITY LIMITLESS®
KAYAKING THE LOWER SALT RIVER – 2 hours
Schedule a guided kayaking tour along the Lower Salt River with your launch point at Saguaro Lake Ranch, or Granite Reef Recreation Area. Both spots offer easy water access. The Salt River can experience Class 3 rapids depending on the time of year.
DESERT BELLE SAGUARO LAKE CRUISES – 1 1/2 hours
Hop aboard for a 90-minute narrated tour in air-conditioned comfort and see exotic Arizona wildlife, towering canyon walls, and dramatic desert vistas. Photo opps on this tour are limitless!
STAND UP PADDLE BOARDING ALONG SAGUARO LAKE – 2 hours
Head to the lakefront beach at Saguaro Lake and grab your board. No Snow SUP offers rentals and guided instruction. This recreational sport offers a great way for families to hit the calm, cool waters and see the scenic desert in a fun environment.
VISIT THE GILBERT RIPARIAN PRESERVE – 1 1/2 hours
Nearly 200 bird species have been identified at this 110-acre wetland wildlife sanctuary for recreation, research and education. Features include 4.5 miles of trails, the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory and ethnobotanical garden. Call ahead for events and schedule of programs and classes offered year round.
DAY 4 – THE APACHE TRAIL
GOLDFIELD GHOST TOWN – 1 1/2 hours
In its heyday after the first gold-strike in 1892, Goldfield Ghost Town was a busy bustling little outpost perched atop a small hill between the mighty Superstition Mountains to the east and the Goldfield Mountains to the west. Today, visitors can walk down Main Street, explore the many shops and historic buildings and tour the historic Mammoth Gold Mine.
APACHE TRAIL OFF-ROAD TOUR – 2+ hours
Off-road desert tours offer a heart-pumping adventure into the Sonoran Desert! These all-terrain vehicles can hold up to 8 guests in one vehicle and offers some of the best photography options as you leave the city limits and head into the Tonto National Forest.
CANYON LAKE CRUISE – 1 1/2 hours
Complete your Apache Trail experience with a sunset tour along Canyon Lake on a “Mark Twain” voyage aboard the Dolly Steamboat, a replica of a sternwheeler paddleboat. The 90-minute nature cruise or twilight dinner cruise is the perfect complement to the Apache Trail experience.
MINING CAMP DINNER & A SHOW – Seasonal, Oct – May
Come here for a hearty meal of good ol’ Western food and be entertained by Arizona’s colorful history shared in music and song. Nestled at the base of the beautiful Superstition Mountains, the restaurant’s unique concept follows the theme of the early mining camp cook shanty.
GUIDED TOUR OF LOST DUTCHMAN STATE PARK – 1 hour
Home of the Lost Dutchman Mine, one of the most famous “lost mines” of the West. Five hiking trails are here that range in distance and elevation. Open year-round from sunrise to 10 p.m., the U.S. Forest Service protects this popular designated wilderness area.
TORTILLA FLAT STAGECOACH STOP – 1 hour
Tortilla Flat is an original stagecoach stop settlement during the construction of the Roosevelt Dam. Today, there are six full-time residents and a saloon with saddles for barstools and walls decorated with currency and business cards from around the world. Open for breakfast and lunch.