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McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Scottsdale

4.8
#2 of 21 in Parks in Scottsdale
Wildlife Area · Nature / Park
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McDowell Sonoran Preserve spans 12,150 hectares (30,000 acres) of protected desert terrain, with over 190 km (120 mi) of multi-use trails. Five trailheads offering hikes of varying difficulty and length will take you through different regions of the park. Explore the trails by foot, by bike, or on horseback, and you'll see cacti forests, wildlife, and mountain ranges. This huge preserve is geologically diverse, made up of a mixture of 1.7 billion-year-old metamorphic rocks, granite, and volcanic deposits. The preserve provides a safe home to desert plants and animals near an urban environment and connects to Tonto National Forest and McDowell Mountain Regional Park, creating a continuous wildlife corridor. Use our Scottsdale vacation website to add McDowell Sonoran Preserve and other attractions to your Scottsdale vacation plans.
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McDowell Sonoran Preserve reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating
TripAdvisor traveler rating 5.0
1,135 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • This was one of my favorite places on my trip through Arizona! We only spent about an hour here because we came right before dusk. The golden hour here is amazing - such a beautiful landscape! I had.....  more
    This was one of my favorite places on my trip through Arizona! We only spent about an hour here because we came right before dusk. The golden hour here is amazing - such a beautiful landscape! I had.....  more »
  • We went at sunset in mid December when the light is low on the smallest Loop close to the centre facility. Seeing the sunlight through the cacti was just delightful. And the Loop was easy to walk... 
    We went at sunset in mid December when the light is low on the smallest Loop close to the centre facility. Seeing the sunlight through the cacti was just delightful. And the Loop was easy to walk...  more »
Google
  • First time hiking at this place. Excellent experience. There are knowledgeable staff(?volunteers) at the entrance to recommend which trail to take based on what you’re looking for that day. The couple ahead of us had a stroller, so she recommended a flat path for them. For us, we wanted a moderate climb, so she recommended the gateway loop. Their assessment of the trail was spot on - it was moderate difficulty with some steeper parts but no hands-and-knees climbing. We are rookies and were able to do it without any dramas, but definitely bring water with. The trail was 4.5 miles and took us around 2.5 hours with stopping for the views and water. The trail felt safe but still a moderate challenge. Some loose gravel here and there but nothing crazy. The one thing is that is was a bit busy, as it was a Saturday, but nothing too crowded. Views were excellent and well worth the journey up. The facilities are good - there are bathrooms at the trail head and places to fill up water. The map was clear and the trail is very well marked. I highly recommend.
  • Nice hiking area. There are a few different trails, maps are located at the entry. There are volunteers who can help you choose the best route. They range from easy to difficult. We did the loop trail, which was 4.7 miles. It was pretty rocky on most of the hike and wraps around the mountain. Half the hike will incline as you assent, making the walk down a lot more enjoyable. Be sure to bring water, and take in the great views.

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