Phoenix adventure tours: Beat the summer heat

by Laurel Darren, Wild Bunch Desert Guides • May 02, 2021

“Took a half-day trip with Laurel through some amazing trails near Scottsdale. Being from the UK, I struggled a little with the heat -- luckily Laurel had packed some Cadburys chocolate for the ride which was only a little melted and gave me a great boost. Great scenery, great bikes, great energy. Book with Wild Bunch Desert Guides and bring your cycling A game!”
– Katie, London, England, on Tripadvisor, Aug. 2016

Saguaro Cactus majestically shooting skyward while a Wild Bunch Desert Guides guest takes a picture of another guest hugging the cactus.
A Wild Bunch Desert Guides guest takes a picture of another guest hugging a majestic Saguaro Cactus during a Scottsdale guided hike.

Growing up in the Midwest, I could always be assured of two things -- Summer and Winter.

Living in those extremes always made it easy to know when to pull out the summer apparel versus the winter coat. I used to get so excited when I could leave the jacket at home and finally wear shorts outside.

It is funny how life changes.

Since moving to Arizona a decade ago, and founding my own Scottsdale adventure tour company, I have become acquainted with altogether different weather extremes visitors take for granted in the vaunted Valley of the Sun.

For instance, while writing this from an outing in Sedona, I am absolutely freezing in temperatures I would have celebrated during childhood and young adulthood.

But when you get used to the blast furnace of 110-degree or hotter days in the Sonoran Desert, those formerly awesome 60-degree temps from your former life now call for busting out the puffy jacket, earmuffs, mittens, and snow hat.

Owning Wild Bunch Desert Guides requires me to pay attention to a lot of really small details to provide our guests with the best guided Scottsdale hiking trips and guided Phoenix mountain biking tours.

Weather plays a huge factor when it comes to the safety and well-being of our guests, not to mention whether or not they will have a good time.

You would not believe the number of people who think it is totally OK to go do a guided Phoenix hike on a Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. in the middle of July.

“Oh, it is a dry heat,” is the quote everybody knows.

Along with that for Arizonans, there also is a picture of an empty Tequila bottle and the worm dead next to a skeleton leaning against a Saguaro cactus. The colors of the sun of course make it look blazing like someone is going to melt in the middle of the desert!

That picture is supposed to be funny, but it also is sadly true.

For the love of God: YES! It is a “dry heat” – but just like the inside of a pottery kiln, that dry heat is not good for you.

Extended exposure to that kind of “dry heat” can quickly lead to dehydration and heat exhaustion and medically worse circumstances!

Trust me, I get it. When I am on vacation, getting up at the crack of dawn is not ideal to me, either. Who does not like to sleep in when they can?

So, Wild Bunch gets those calls all of the time – guests with larger groups of people who want to sleep until mid-morning and go out in the afternoon on guided Scottsdale mountain bike tours or a Phoenix guided hike.

Hardly fun is informing those guests that the Wild Bunch – and really any other Arizona adventure tour company worthy of your hard-earned money and even harder-earned trust – will politely refuse that request between June 1 and Oct. 1.

Three WIld Bunch Desert Guides enjoy the views from the summit during a Camelback Mountain hike.
The temperatures are warm, but the early-morning views are even hotter from the summit during a Camelback Mountain hike for this threesome during a Wild Bunch Desert Guides adventure tour. 

Phoenix hiking tours: Beat the heat
When the thermometer typically spikes in Arizona, the Wild Bunch Desert Guides restrict Scottsdale guided hikes and guided Phoenix mountain bike tours to morning hours.

Sorry, if that fails to fit into your vacation plans, but that is not only an industry standard but pure common sense.

Remember those old TV ads with an egg frying in a pan to symbolize your brain on drugs? Hit the wrong time of the day to be outdoors doing strenuous exercise or activities in the Valley of the Sun and you might as well consider yourself in a skillet – if not a deep-fat fryer sizzling away.

The cities of Phoenix and Scottsdale both have laws in place regarding taking your dogs hiking in temperatures of 100 and over.

People from my home area are used to mixing triple-digit heat with humidity – but they also show the good sense to limit activities and stay inside when the weather conditions are that stifling.

Most visitors to Phoenix fail to realize the effects increased elevation also play in making that “dry heat” even worse on their uncalibrated bodies – until it is too late.

The higher elevation naturally saps your energy and oxygen levels, as well as requiring more water to fight off dehydration. With the Sonoran Desert heat mixed in, that only accelerates the conditions leading to heat exhaustion and other medical dangers.

So, every year beginning in June, the Wild Bunch roll out special summer start times for the safety of our guests and guides.

This year, my highly rated Phoenix guided adventure tour company will be providing half-day solo and group guided Phoenix mountain bike trips and guided Scottsdale hikes with a meet time at 6 a.m.

Now, guests can always choose to go earlier and witness a gorgeous Arizona sunrise. I am totally fine with and able to make those accommodations but going later in the day is non-negotiable.

The start times for any 90-minute guided adventure tour is 7 a.m. for Scottsdale guided mountain biking trips and Phoenix hiking tours.

Those guests can certainly choose to go earlier if they want, too. Just know that all pickups at Scottsdale resorts or Phoenix Airbnbs are a half-an-hour before any start time.

Along with these temperature-dictated special start times, the Wild Bunch Desert Guides are offering a 15-percent off SPECIAL ON ONLINE-ONLY BOOKINGS!

This special applies to all 90-minute and half-day tours between June 1-Oct. 1 -- excluding any Camelback Mountain hiking or the hike & bike combo tour.

When booking online, use the code SUMMER21 to get the discount and complete the transaction.

However, please do not call later and ask about any 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. afternoon start.

Between June 1-Oct. 1, there is no “sleep-in” option to allow for a 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. excursion, either.

You will be thanking me later when you are sitting next to the pool with a nice big fat Moscow Mule or Prickly Pear Margarita in your hand at 10 a.m.

A guide points out several landmarks to a guest while they enjoy the amazing vistas together during a Wild Bunch Desert Guides adventure tour.
A guide points out several landmarks to a guest while they enjoy the amazing vistas together during a Wild Bunch Desert Guides adventure tour.

Phoenix Mountain Biking tours: Beat the heat

When guests call Wild Bunch Desert Guides to book a Phoenix adventure tour and they ask what to expect, my favorite line is to imagine when you step off the plane at Sky Harbor Airport there are 500 hair dryers on high slapping you in the face.

On that same note, if guests want to practice beating the heat before guided Phoenix mountain biking trips, I suggest going into the bathroom and turning a hair dryer and blowing it in your face on high for 2-3 hours without any breaks.

To me, that is exactly what the worst of the Sonoran Desert heat feels from the seat of a mountain bike traveling 10 miles per hour.

So, ask yourself: Do you still want to go on one of our Phoenix guided mountain bike trips at 3 p.m.?

Dehydration and heat exhaustion are very real dangers here in the Valley of the Sun.

Many times, Wild Bunch guests go out on the town the night before a Scottsdale guided adventure tour so they can experience Old Town Scottsdale at its best.

I love Old Town myself. I love Cien Agaves' Prickly Pear Margaritas. I absolutely also am a Coach House Angry Orchard Apple Cider girl. Do I love a good Tito's and Cock 'N Bull Moscow Mule? The best only come in a copper cup!

But as your highly rated Phoenix adventure tour guide, I am also here to warn you: If you try and combine a night out drinking with sleeping in and not drinking enough water, heading out on guided Scottsdale mountain biking tours or Phoenix guided hiking trip at any time of the day is a disaster waiting to happen.

In the summer, that combination of extremes and excesses is even more deadly in the afternoon when the temperatures are at their highest. You are in some serious danger of dehydration and heat exhaustion, which can kill you in its worst stages.

Earlier in my career before I knew better, I have been a guide out on the bike with people while they are dry heaving from the night before. I also have guided a Camelback Mountain hike where guests were so dehydrated from the night before that they had no choice but to give up and turn around before reaching the summit.

From years of hard-earned experience now in Arizona, I know what I am talking about when I tell guests it is not a good idea to do any sort of outdoor activity in the afternoon after June 1 here in the Valley of the Sun.

Your health is in our hands when we take guests on a Scottsdale adventure tour, so Wild Bunch is not about to compromise the safety of anybody for ill-conceived convenience.

You depend on expert guides to show you the way to memorable fun and incredible beauty. So please understand when we look out for the best interests of you, your family and travel party.

You hire Wild Bunch to keep you safe and guide the way. So please let us do that job for you.

Wild Bunch Desert Guides owner Laurel Darren poses in a grotto rock formation during a guided hiking adventure in Phoenix. The beauty of the Sonoran Desert is behind her.

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 or call 602-663-0842.


Recent Blog Posts

Phoenix adventure tours guide all revved up

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is fast approaching the 40th anniversary of the classic movie’s 1986 release. While I work hard – and juggle a lot of side gigs with the same fervor – I identify with the iconic film for a couple of reasons. For starters, I am a Midwestern native, growing up a short car ride away from Chicago and its suburbs, the setting for the high school hookie adventure. And like the main character, I believe in playing hard, too – sharing in Ferris’ motto that, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Which brings me to one of my latest thrill-rides …

Guiding your Phoenix adventure tours

Besides our guests, the guide we provide is the most important element of any Phoenix adventure tours from the Wild Bunch Desert Guides. Our pathfinders deliver the perfect mix of homespun hospitality and local expertise to produce five-star rated Phoenix hiking tours and Phoenix mountain biking tours. So, we always take time to match the perfect guide and perfect trail to every guest to help produce the perfect experience.