Part of the Travel Local, COVID getaway, series– this post is meant for locals in Arizona that are getting stir crazy and will travel regardless of guidance from our government. The suggestions below are to keep the spread of the virus in a place that has the resources necessary should an outbreak occur. The outdoor recommendation(s) is a place not far from the city stop. To contain the virus please fill up your gas tanks before leaving your town and bring snacks and other essentials. Outdoor recommendations are typically in areas with limited resources.
City stop: Scottsdale
I know it is not an unknown/obscure town… but we need to protect those smaller communities. Scottsdale has everything you would want from a small town while also having the resources necessary around travel right now. AND I really loved Old Town- the architecture and overall vibes easily pulled me away from nearby Phoenix. Currently facemasks are mandated for any interactions or indoor activities… that being said local businesses are open! Bring the Purel… and pull your mask OVER your nostrils.
I was a huge fan of Farm and Craft restaurant for their sustainable, healthy, locally sourced TASTY dishes. I highly recommend grabbing breakfast or lunch at this local hotspot between 8AM-3PM. This place was added to my itinerary 4 months before I ever arrived to Arizona in 2018 and will be on it again when I plan my next visit. They currently are allowing dine-in guests as well as curbside pickup options. Here is a link to the menu.
If you want to avoid wearing your mask in 100+ degree weather check out the popular and steep trail traversing Camelback Mountain- search ‘Cholla Trailhead’. It would be best to either start or end your day here for ideal hiking weather- about 5 minutes from Old Town. Click here for weather, conditions, and hours/closure updates.
For skyline views of Phoenix, hike the Piestewa Peak. This trailhead is also steep and it would be ideal to go either early or late in the day, it is east of the city. If you are planning to do both in one day- I’d recommend starting at Camelback and finishing the day watching the sunset from Piestewa Peak. This is another city of Phoenix Park- here and Camelback prohibit dogs on trails when temperatures exceed 100 degrees. Click here for more regulations and updates.
You can also find the McDowells Sonoran Preserve 25 minutes minutes north of Old town. My understanding is public spaces and activities are closed until further notice- please check the website before going- click here for trails.
Ready to get away from town?
The Superstition Mountains are only an hour East of Scottsdale; 2 hours from Tucson. This area not only has the mountains and giant saguaro cacti… but legend has it there is a pretty cool story that goes along with the name. To get here, plug ‘Peralta Trailhead’ into your GPS. Note: once you turn on Peralta Rd. after about a mile the pavement ends… continue for another 6.5 miles to the parking lot. The parking lot is pretty big but fills up quickly on weekends. From here you will find a map to the Superstition Wilderness. This is part of the Tonto National Forest- here is link for the latest updates. Remember this is near a disadvantageous community with limited resources- if you go here please don’t go into town. The nearest camping is at Lost Dutchman State Park, you can reserve 1 of the 138 spots in advance.
And if you’re interested in a more relaxed vibe… or just want to get on the water, an hour north of Scottsdale / 45 minutes from Phoenix is Lake Pleasant Regional Park because the heat can be unbearable at times. This park is a little more restrictive and can make changes often so definitely check park updates DAY OF- click here. There are almost 150 campsites total to accommodate RVs as well as old-fashion tent camping, some can only be accessed by boat.
Keep Nature Wild
Please leave the places you visit better than you found them. Pack out whatever you bring in- this includes compostable (and non- DUH!) dog waste bags. It also includes fruit/vegetable or other food scraps- if it’s not growing wildly there, it doesn’t belong; an INVASIVE SPECIES. Leaving seemingly harmless and compostable waste is SEVERELY HARMFUL TO THE ENVIRONMENT AND ECOSYSTEM. This includes bringing firewood from out of town to local campsites. Wood carries insects and disease- a rule of thumb is to buy firewood within 10 miles of where it’ll be burned. And of course- check the daily fire danger rating to prevent a wildfire.
Generally speaking, Arizona (especially in the South) is known for its traditional indigenous and Mexican influenced cuisine. And the BEST chimichanga ($14) in all of Arizona is found only 25 minutes from Old Town, Scottsdale- in either direction. A small family-owned Sonoran Mexican restaurant by the name of Valle Luna. One is in Chandler, south of Scottsdale and the other (2) are northwest in Phoenix. I recommend stopping for dinner at one of the three. Here is their website.
If you’re short on time the locals recommend Filibertos for their quick service and daily specials. All meals are cooked from scratch. This fast food restaurant is open 24/7.
For people already in the Sedona or Flagstaff area- less than 2 hours from there is a place called: West Clear Creek Wilderness in the Coconino National Forest. If you want to get away from crowds, my thoughts are this will be far enough away to defer most tourists. Click here for the most recent updates.
If you are following my 2018 American Road trip recap- I shared about my time in Page, Sedona, and the Grand Canyon ... I highly suggest AVOIDING these places at the moment. These destinations are not equipped for an outbreak and are considered disadvantaged and the locals are at a higher risk. Please consider going to a different location.