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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®.
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.
HIKING & BIKING TOURS – 4+ hours
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.
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 Airbase Arizona, 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.
Even though Mesa is in the heart of a desert, visitors can take advantage of the city's close proximity to a water recreation paradise. There are three lakes and two rivers within 30 minutes of Mesa that allow for desert boating, fishing, rafting, kayaking and water skiing. Or, partake in the ever-popular activity of "tubing", a leisurely float along the cool waters of the Salt River via inner-tube!
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.