Phoenix, Arizona, its suburbs and golf courses make for a sprawling metropolitan center of more than 4 million that stretches for 16, 573 square miles and counting. Considering the size of this desert state capital, it might seem to the traveler that the city never ends. Which is why, to put it all in perspective, it’s good to consider a fresh approach. So when we talk about getting high in Phoenix, Arizona, we mean recreation at altitude of course. And what better way to do that then with an bird’s-eye view of the area? Along the lines of a hot air balloon above the Sonoran Desert and a scenic flight out to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, obviously.
If you get your kicks from a quiet sunrise float above the desert it’s a hot air balloon tour for you. There are several Phoenix-area operators who offer year-round flights at both sunrise and sunset over the Sonoran Desert, with a champagne toast to celebrate your safe return to earth.
For more variety, consider a scenic flight with a company like Westwind Air Tours. In addition to scenic flights over the Grand Canyon, there are tours to the West Rim (for access to the Skywalk), one-day, all-in flight and rafting trips, quick excursions to Sedona and the grandaddy of them all: an 8-hour tour that takes in Sedona, Lake Powell, the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley. Clearly being pressed for time is no excuse to skip some of this state’s most famous beauty spots.
Optionally, you can also get a better look at the urban bones of this metropolitan area on the cheap with a hike to the top of natural landmark, Camelback Mountain. It’s only a few miles from downtown, but it’s a mile and 1,300 feet of elevation gain to the summit. So come with plenty of water and avoid mid-day in summer.