Beat the heat on Phoenix hiking tours | Wild Bunch Desert Guides

Beat the heat on Phoenix hiking tours

by Laurel Darren, Wild Bunch Desert Guides • April 29, 2024
With a cactus looming behind them, a couple is all smiles during one of the Phoenix mountain bike tours from the Wild Bunch Desert Guides.(TOP) With a cactus looming behind them, a couple is all smiles during one of the Phoenix adventure tours from the Wild Bunch Desert Guides. (COVER) A trio pauses to pose in front of a rock formation during a thrill ride through the Sonoran Desert with the Wild Bunch.



Phoenix hit triple-digit temperatures for the first time this year on April 21.

While that was short of the earliest 100-degree day ever in Phoenix – set on March 26, 1988 – the blast furnace still was turned on about a week and half earlier than normal in the Valley of the Sun, according to the National Weather Service.

Exceeding the day’s normal temp by a whopping 13 degrees also followed last year’s record-setting heat when Phoenix “kept it 100” – or much warmer – a staggering 133 times (or 22 more days than normal).

Phoenix also set records with 55 days at or above 110 degrees in 2023 – including 31 straight days in a searing summer heat wave. That in turn corresponded into another dubious mark -- 645 heat-related deaths in Maricopa County in 2023.

As the owner and operator of a small mom-and-pop specialty shop offering guided Phoenix hiking tours & guided Phoenix mountain bike tours, my response to this year’s early dose of heat was to recommend guests restrict their adventures only to early-morning hours.

And even though the temperatures have cooled off a little – yes, the 90s are cooler in Arizona – the Wild Bunch Desert Guides have officially shifted to only morning start times in May -- 8:30 or 11 a.m.

While I continue to suggest to those considering a once-in-a-lifetime experience with us to avoid late morning or afternoon start times, that recommendation becomes a requirement from June 1 to Oct. 1.

Annually during the worst of the summer heat, the Wild Bunch Desert Guides help keep guests safe by operating only during those cooler, early-morning temps.

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is much better than a pound of cure – even when you have medically-trained guides watching out for you and your family or travel party’s well-being.

A couple enjoys a once-in-a-lifetime experience on one of the early-morning Phoenix adventure tours from the Wild Bunch.
Despite the summer heat, a couple enjoys a once-in-a-lifetime experience on one of the early-morning Phoenix adventure tours from the Wild Bunch.


 
Early bird Phoenix hiking tours
Pragmatists around the world will tell you the simplest solution is always the best answer to any question or problem.

That is the easy explanation why the Wild Bunch – and really anybody worthy of your business in the entire Phoenix adventure tours industry – limits activities to early morning hours during the worst of the Sonoran Desert heat.

After all, there is a reason that farmers from my home area in Eastern Iowa/Western Illinois start working at the crack of down. Staying out of the sweltering summer heat and humidity in the Midwest is essential to one’s safety and well-being.

Same here. And that sentiment has only become louder since I arrived in Old Town Scottsdale more than a decade ago.

There is a public service campaign now annually to remind the public – but to especially inform our visitors – of the precautions, signs and treatments for heat-related health issues.

There are stop signs posted all over the area that remind “walking after 10 a.m. not recommended” because of the “EXTREME HEAT DANGER.”

And after years of great debate, the City of Phoenix has finally decided to save people from themselves by putting into law a mandatory shutdown of our iconic Camelback Mountain from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. any time the National Weather Service issues an excessive heat warning.

There simply were too many helicopter rescues of overheated hikers on the mountain – which in turn put first responders and rescue crews at risk far too regularly.

Sadly, one death on the mountain – or any local trails -- should have been enough to change minds.

But thankfully, common sense finally has reigned because heat-related illnesses are no joke – especially here in the Valley of the Sun.

I have said the same thing since I arrived – and my voice continually grew louder when I started my own guiding service for Phoenix hiking tours & Phoenix mountain bike tours.

My Wild Bunch Desert Guides features medically-trained pathfinders to help keep you safe – and they can treat any problem on the trail during our Phoenix adventure tours.

However, that does not mean I want to intentionally put them in that predicament – so we limit our guests to early morning options to help keep guests safely enjoying their vacation.

From June 1 to Sept. 30, the meet-at-the-trailhead start times are at 6 a.m. (or earlier) for half-day tours (3-4 hours in length).

For the shorter 90-minute to 2-hour adventures, the latest morning start time is 7 a.m. for those wishing to meet our guides at their desired trailhead.

Pickup service is possible a half-hour prior to your start time – although we prefer guests to use their own vehicles or utilize a resort shuttle to meet our guides at the trailhead.

And with our completely customizable, totally private experience – I make sure to get our guests on the nearest trail to them that best fits their physical needs and deepest wishes for the outing.

That way, the Wild Bunch ensures the quickest trip to and from the trail – so you don’t waste time on your vacation or get-away -- while delivering a personalized experience to perfectly fit you, your family or travel party. Never will we ask you to have other people join your group like they do in the cattle-call or bus tour outings from the Big Box national providers in the area.

A couple of friends are all smiles while avoiding the worst of the summer heat during one of the early-morning Phoenix adventure tours from the Wild Bunch.
A couple of friends are all smiles while avoiding the worst of the summer heat during one of the early-morning Phoenix adventure tours from the Wild Bunch.



 
Phoenix hiking tours are hot
While we all love to sleep-in on vacation, do yourself a favor and set an alarm clock.

The early bird not only finds the most fun – but can rest easier without worrying about the dangerous temperatures later in the day.

And by relying on the Wild Bunch Desert Guides, visitors avoid sweating the details of Phoenix hiking tours or Phoenix mountain bike tours.

Because we are a small specialty service founded on hometown hospitality, Wild Bunch takes the time to check the details of every adventure with every guest.

So, as I advised in these previous Blogs (click on the hyper links), make sure to tell us:
But most of all, do yourself a favor and skip baking in the blazing summer heat. Getting you and your family or travel party off the trails by 10 a.m. helps keep everybody safe.

Dehydration is a very serious health threat – and frighteningly spirals out of control incredibly quickly to lead to even more serious problems.

But the Wild Bunch guides are medically trained to recognize the warning signs and act quickly to deal with heat-related emergencies. My staff also carries hydration packs and tons of water to help ward off the worst effects of the pottery kiln-like conditions.

An even bigger key is making sure visitors are proactive rather than reactive to the temperatures. So, it is important to remain hydrated during your trip to Arizona – and especially before any human-powered activities in the Sonoran Desert.

Simply put, make sure to drink water – and lots of it – the night prior to your Phoenix adventure tours.

Old Town Scottsdale is a wonderful place to visit – and you should enjoy the nightlife there during your trip. But be advised, because alcohol naturally dehydrates you, plan to have that Prickly Pear Margarita as a celebration after our desert adventure with us.

Nobody likes dealing with hungover people anyway.

The grouchy mood only means you are already dehydrated – and that gets you off to an exceptionally bad start in Arizona’s summer heat.

So, take care of yourself – so we can help take care of you on a completely customizable and exclusively private experience.



 

About the Author

Laurel Darren is the founding owner of the Wild Bunch Desert Guides, a 5-star rated adventure tour company that offers guided hiking tours and guided mountain biking tours in Arizona’s picturesque Sonoran Desert in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. Arriving in the legendary “Valley of the Sun” in 2012 -- from the home of John Deere in the Quad Cities of Eastern Iowa/Western Illinois -- this corn-fed Midwest girl brought 30 years of athletic chops under her chaps. A 3-sport high school standout and former college softball player – who won her conference’s Athlete of the Year award as a prep senior – Darren has graduated to competing in many races as an adult, from road running and cycling, to cyclo-cross and Mountain Bikes, and even Duathlon and Triathlon “Ironman” competitions. Darren was a popular, top-rated senior mountain bike guide at Arizona’s Outback Adventures before branching out to start her own small adventure business in 2016. To book a guided mountain bike tour or guided hiking trip – or a combination of the two adventures – please visit the home page www.wildbunchdesertguides.com or call 602-663-0842.



 

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