Choose Your Own Adventure in Phoenix


By Kate Wallace

It’s great to have choices. Adventure-seeking visitors to Arizona have plenty of them when they plan a stop at Fort McDowell. The destination, located just north of the city of Mesa and east of Scottsdale, is part of Arizona’s tribal community of Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. Getting here is easy as visitors head out on the legendary Bush Highway and enter a swath of Sonoran Desert that is beyond lush with miles and miles of scenic vistas bordered by granite cliffs and the Four Peaks mountain range in the distance. This expansive landscape, 28,000 acres in total, is home to Fort McDowell Adventures, one of the original outfitters that have been hosting city slickers for more than a decade. Cattle drives are just one of the unique bucket list adventures they offer guests, along with the iconic Arizona horseback riding adventure. Expect to meet wild Mustangs on the cactus-studded path that takes riders across the Verde River.

Enjoy a lake cruise along canyon-carved waterways aboard the Desert Belle.

Enjoy a lake cruise along canyon-carved waterways aboard the Desert Belle.

If getting dusty and dirty is on the agenda, opt for the Green Zebra tour. Low-profile Tomcars can race across the rolling desert floor with incredible agility and speed, promising high octane fun. Buckle up for this wild and crazy ride as the Tomcar climbs up sizeable boulders and descends into desert washes. Or, wipe the dust off your goggles and take the scenic route. The Tomcar’s open frame makes capturing a selfie a cinch.

Pink Adventure Tours is stationed here, bringing their iconic pink Jeep Wranglers to this verdant terrain. Pairing desert education with hilly climbs and belly-rumbling twists and turns over rocky terrain is its specialty. New this season, the outfitter has partnered with The Desert Belle to offer a half-day experience serving up two adventures in one. This joint excursion begins on land in its custom-built Mercedes Benz vehicles with a guided tour at McDowell Sonoran Preserve, a sustainable desert habitat replete with diverse wildlife. Then, guests head out to the cool blue waters of Saguaro Lake. Once aboard the Desert Belle cruise, the waterways take visitors to some of the most untouched scenery Arizona has to offer.

See the desert up close on a Pink Adventure Jeep Tour.

See the desert up close on a Pink Adventure Jeep Tour.

When you disembark, head over to the Wicked Saguaro Dock Side, the tour boat’s new gift shop and wine bar. This new permanently-docked must-stop is perfect for grabbing a boxed lunch or tipping back a few beers after the day’s adventure is done.

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