Phoenix hiking tours: Early birds avoid the heat

by Laurel Darren, Wild Bunch Desert Guides • July 29, 2023
“We booked with Wild Bunch Desert Guides after visiting many websites. My husband and I were looking for a nice casual ride and good scenery. We were not disappointed. We were met by our guide Bob at an easy to find location. He had called us prior to discuss bike size and let us know he would provide everything we needed. When we got there, he was not kidding! Helmets, gloves, backpacks, SPF Chapstick, water bottles, electrolyte solution and granola bars. The bikes were in great shape. … To be honest, I wondered if 3 hours would be too much. But it was the perfect amount of riding and stopping to rest, drink and talk about what we were seeing. We were not looking for a hardcore, fast-paced mountain bike ride, although I am pretty sure that could have been accommodated if we had wanted that. It was the perfect ride! … Bob’s knowledge of the flora and fauna was impressive. He made this ride much more than just a bike ride. I would say that this tour far exceeded my expectations. If you are looking for a great ride with beautiful scenery and knowledgeable guides -- and a tour company that adds that extra touch -- I would look no further. Laurel the owner even called after the ride to make sure we enjoyed our time. If we come back to the area, we would love to spend another morning with Bob riding again!”– Frasier Family on TripAdvisor, May 2023
A couple hiking in the early-morning hours descend a hill full of cactus. During the summertime heat, the early bird enjoys the beauty of the Sonoran Desert to avoid the worst of the triple-digit heat.
(TOP) A couple of Phoenix hiking tours guests of the Wild Bunch Desert Guides descend a hill full of cactus in the early-morning hours. During the summertime heat, the early bird enjoys the beauty of the Sonoran Desert by avoiding the triple-digit temperatures. (COVER) A Wild Bunch Phoenix hiking tours group pauses to admire the incredible scenery from their hillside perch among the cactus.

Phoenix continues setting the wrong kinds of records this summer.

Friday, July 28 marked the 29th consecutive day the daily high temperature in the “Valley of the Sun” was 110 degrees or higher – officially checking in at 116.

The old mark of 18 straight days back in 1974 was surpassed nearly two weeks ago.

Worse yet, without monsoon season kicking in with the kind of relief needed, the day also set a new daily warm low of 93 degrees – pushing past the mark of 92 set in 2019.

Yes, you read that right. The day’s LOW temperature was 93.

But you hardly need to consult the Farmer’s Almanac to figure out the answer to the question – HOW HOT IS IT?

Any number of punchlines to that set up will do.

One staggering real-life anecdote is decidedly unfunny, though.

Saguaro cactuses, the symbol of the old Southwest, are literally dying – rotting from the inside-out and collapsing or losing limbs – because of the unrelenting heat.


As the owner and operator of a small mom-and-pop specialty shop offering Phoenix adventure tours, that is certainly a little more than concerning.

So, this follow-up question is expected annually by those considering Phoenix hiking tours or Phoenix mountain bike tours during the sweltering summer months:

“How do your Wild Bunch Desert Guides plan to keep me and my family (or travel party) safe in this heat?” a guest will rightly ask.

A father (left) and his two sons (right) pause for a quick picture with a beautiful Sonoran Desert landscape as the early-morning backdrop during a Phoenix mountain bike tour with the Wild Bunch.

Early bird beats the Phoenix hiking tours heat

The simplest answer is always the best answer, I say.

Farmers from my home area in Eastern Iowa/Western Illinois start working at the crack of down – or earlier -- to stay out of the worst of the summer heat and humidity there.

And that commonsense approach works in the Phoenix adventure tours industry, too – and that has been the case much longer than before I arrived in the Sonoran Desert more than a decade ago.

So, same as any of our peers and counterparts, the Wild Bunch Desert Guides have special summertime hours of operation to help keep our guests safe and mitigate the effects of the heat.

From June 1 to Sept. 30, the meet-at-the-trailhead start times for Phoenix hiking tours and Phoenix mountain bike tours are limited to 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 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.

During the summer, the Wild Bunch also offers an early-bird discount for booking online.

Use the code Group15 at checkout to get 15-percent off a guided tour with us between now and Sept. 30.

A couple on a Wild Bunch Phoenix mountain biking tour stop for an early-morning photo amid the rocky backdrop and sage brush of the Sonoran Desert.
A couple on a Wild Bunch Phoenix mountain biking tour stop for an early-morning photo amid the rocky backdrop and sage brush of the Sonoran Desert.

Why so early for Phoenix hiking tours?

Phoenix’s annual pottery kiln-like summer conditions require Wild Bunch Desert Guides to hit the trails as early as possible to experience the beauty of the Sonoran Desert while also avoiding the worst of the heat.

So, quite simply, there is no sleeping in when on vacation in Phoenix. The early bird finds all the fun!

Better instead to “do as the Romans do,” by seeking a Mexican Siesta and nap in the air conditioning of your hotel or resort when the weather is at its blazingly hottest.

Do yourself a favor and skip baking in the heat. Getting you and your family or travel party off the trails by 10 a.m. is essential to us keeping you all safe.

Booking with us and going with a trained guide is also advisable to avoid the many tragedies that have befallen inexperienced hikers withering in the heat.

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

But my guides are medically trained to recognize the warning signs and act quickly to deal with heat-related emergencies.

My staff also always carries hydration packs and tons of water to help ward off the worst effects of our boiler plate conditions.

But be proactive rather than reactive – and try and avoid heat issues altogether – by remaining hydrated before Phoenix hiking tours or Phoenix mountain bike tours.

Simply put, make sure to continue drinking water – and lots of it – the night prior to your Phoenix adventure tour.

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 or Moscow Mule or IPA as a celebration AFTER your 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.

An all-night bender also is never a valid excuse to get out of a guided Phoenix adventure tour, either.

So, avoid calling me in the morning to tell me you do not feel well and cannot make it. You are getting charged – as spelled out in our 48-hour cancellation policy.

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

Only you and your family or travel party are ever on the same Wild Bunch tour – you never have to make room for Matt and Pat from Poughkeepsie or the frat boys from Boston or the random family from Florence.

You utilize my company for our expertise in delivering safe, fun adventures – so we can get you and yours the most thrilling times and incredible scenery available on nearly 300 miles of fun-in-the-sun trails.

The once-in-a-lifetime pictures are almost as good as the memories.

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.