Hiking in Phoenix – A Southwestern Hiking Series

Hiking in Phoenix | Devil's CanyonMany regions of the United States are extraordinary for their diverse climate and topography. California comes to mind, as well as the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Northwest. But many people don’t consider the Southwest region as being more than desert. Yet, Arizona displays varied scenery, wide-ranging climate and awesome beauty, rivaling if not exceeding any other place. In fact, many parts of Arizona are so magnificent, in their various ways, that they challenge the capacity of human sensibilities to experience them in all their glory and richness.

Consider Phoenix for instance. Hiking in Phoenix and environs is arguably some of the best hiking in the southwest. From lush Sonoran Desert vegetation to picturesque mountain ranges it’s easy to see what attracts hikers to this corner of the world. As you gaze upon towering saguaros and beautiful sky island mountain ranges in the distance, you will understand why hiking in Phoenix should be on every adventurer’s travel bucket list.

Today’s article is the first in a series of 5 incredible Hiking in Phoenix adventures we highly recommend. First up: Devil’s Canyon

Hiking in Phoenix Reflections On Devil’s Canyon

Down, down, down, into the heart of the still, wild canyon
 we descended, rappelling 60 feet into what is reportedly Arizona’s 
largest plunge pool. Accompanying us was a lovely, trickling 
spring-fed waterfall, spilling its precious cargo into the seemingly 
bottomless pool below. The view from atop a few moments 
earlier was breathtaking and dizzying, inspiring nothing short of awe.

 In the distance stood the canyon, resplendently green and dazzling in the
 late afternoon sun. The canyon walls cast dramatic shadows and there were
 hundreds of rhyolite hoodoos comprising the cliff sides. Saguaros and other 
quintessential Sonoran Desert vegetation were scattered among the reddish 
brown rock.

Check out this cyber journey of a trek through Devil’s Canyon:


Devils Canyon can be explored via a splendid five-mile roundtrip hike, for those who prefer not to partake in a thrilling, but technical canyoneering adventure.

Before we reached the famed Five Pools, the canyon scene
 was more sylvan and soothing; sporting a riparian forest so dense that 
sunlight rarely touches the ground. We observed Canyon Tree Frogs hopping 
about, blue gills racing through the cool dark pools, crayfish, garter snakes, 
Sonoran Mud Turtles and a rich assortment of birds including red-tail hawks, 
canyon wrens and ravens. This is Devil’s Canyon, an inviting paradise second to 
none, set amidst the blazing desert. The canyon is located just 50 miles east of the city of Phoenix.

However, a foreign-owned mining company 
called Resolution Copper (RCM) operates a mine at the end of Magma Mine Road 
and they want to expand their operations. The canyon is currently being
 threatened by a proposed land swap which would allow RCM to extract ore from 
7,000 feet below the surface, destroying the water table and the rich biodiversity 
that exists within its realm. The mine’s operation would also cut-off access for all 
who treasure this area. The local nonprofit organizations (Queen Creek Coalition 
and Friends of Queen Creek) have been organized to help preserve the area, but
 the mine continues to garner support from pro mining Arizona legislators. The site planned for mining is precious for its beauty as well as its 

The name of Apache Leap, an impressive cliff adjacent to Devil’s Canyon, 
comes from an event which took place back in the nineteenth century when 
Apache families threw themselves off the cliffs to avoid capture by U.S. troops.

It is unthinkable that Devil’s Canyon and surrounding environs can be destroyed so 
that a company could extract copper, which in any case is unlikely to be in short supply. 
Instead of destroying it, we should make the canyon and Oak Flat a National Monument.

How to help: Please send a letter to your representative and/or the President about why you oppose 
the land swap and why you believe Oak Flat and Devil’s Canyon should be preserved. 
We also encourage you to contact Raul Griljalva (https://grijalva.house.gov/contact-raul) the only legislator 
opposed to the land swap and tell him how much you appreciate his dedication to
 supporting conservation in Arizona, and for upholding a Presidential Order that goes back 
to 1955.

For more information about this issue, check out this comprehensive website by Earthworks. Moreover,  Arizona Highways recently published an excellent article, The Battle for Oak Flat, representing the San Carlos Apache point of 
view of this area’s wealth of spiritual, cultural and environmental significance.

Let’s do our part to preserve this wonderful and amazing ecological jewel and oasis 
in the desert known as Devil’s Canyon!

Up Next: The Grand Canyon of the Sonoran Desert: Aravaipa

Are You Ready to Start Your Own Hiking in Phoenix adventure?

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Contact Southwest Discoveries today to speak directly with a tour guide. Ask questions, get details, and learn more about the Tucson Hikes that await you on one of our tours of the Southwest.

Email: Info@southwestdiscoveries.com

Phone: 888-882-2282
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About the Author
Mitch Stevens has been leading hiking and backpacking outings throughout the southwest for over ten years. As a Sierra Club hiking leader, writer and photographer, he has promoted the enjoyment and conservation of our remaining wild lands. Born and raised in New York City, Mitch came to discover the great outdoors and fall in love with Arizona’s special places. Through his countless trips across the state and region, Mitch made it his mission to encourage fellow hikers and enthusiasts to protect the beauty of the desert. Now, he continues to embrace his fascination with the desert beauty by creating and leading multigenerational tours throughout the southwest. His experience coupled with his passion for the great outdoors make him a unique tour guide and outings leader.

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