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Top 5 Short Day Trips from Scottsdale

Wondering what adventures lie within the sweeping red desert vistas of Scottsdale? With some of Arizona’s most spectacular natural attractions and historical sites just a short drive away, Scottsdale is the perfect base for venturing into the red rocks of Sedona, kayaking the rivers and lakes of the Tonto National Forest, or exploring ancient Native American ruins. Whether you’re chasing the best hiking trails or historical treasures of Arizona’s Old West, our guide to the best, five day trips from Scottsdale breaks it down for you.


Just two hours away from Scottsdale, Sedona is a wonderland of palatial red sandstone monoliths and gravity-defying outcroppings jutting out into uninterrupted blue skies. The stunning landscapes drape behind the world-class golf courses and luxury spas found throughout Sedona. It’s become a major hub for New Age tourism, abounding in boutique shops, art galleries, and wellness retreats with a focus on mindful energy. If your Zen is found in the raw beauty of nature, hit the trails through red sandstone canyons, dramatic cliff outcroppings, and even energy vortexes.

Kartchner Caverns

While most of Arizona’s geological wonders are above ground, the Kartchner Caverns turn heads deep below the desert floor. A breathtaking array of limestone formations and glittering stalactites and stalagmites cover the cavern walls, with creeping water forming delicate stone drippings spilling down into milky stone pools. The mystery and splendor of these caves make it one of the best day trips from Scottsdale.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

See how the region’s indigenous Sinagua people once lived at the beautifully preserved Montezuma Castle. Built over the span of three centuries dating between 1100 and 1350 A.D., the unique five-story pueblo is one of the most impressive cliff-side dwellings still standing in North America. Paved trails frame the site, allowing you to explore the area.

McDowell Mountain Regional Park

Set your alarm early to catch a spectacular sunrise framed by the mountain ranges north of Scottsdale. At McDowell Mountain Regional Park you’ll find over 50 miles of trails winding through swaths of desert scrub, towering saguaro cacti, and rocky elevations perfect for your morning hike or evening run. Explore the trails by mountain bike, or saddle up for a horseback ride through the desert on one of the coolest day trips from Scottsdale.

Saguaro Lake

Need to cool off from the Arizona sun? Saguaro Lake is a reservoir oasis in the middle of the desert, less than an hour’s drive away from Scottsdale. Cradled by craggy limestone cliffs, the lake is perfect for a day out kayaking, paddle boarding, or boating from Butcher Jones Beach. Its location in the sprawling Tonto National Forest makes it a great starting point for venturing into the trails and rivers of the forest.

A vacation rental in Scottsdale offers the perfect base for your adventures in Arizona. With Scottsdale Vacation Rentals, our unique properties offer stunning accommodations with the privacy and isolation you seek for your trip to Scottsdale. Contact us today to book your Scottsdale vacation rental today and ask about the best day trips from Scottsdale!