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Tonto National Forest

Tonto National Forest: Our most recommended tours and activities

Sonoran Desert: Sunset Jeep Tour with Tonto National Forest

1. Sonoran Desert: Sunset Jeep Tour with Tonto National Forest

Experience a world-famous Arizona sunset on a low-speed, off-road sightseeing tour of the Sonoran Desert via the Tonto National Forest. Your professional tour guide, a certified off-road driver, will tell you about the Sonoran Desert flora, wildlife, Arizona history, and Native American ethnobotanical practices. Hop aboard the Jeep and cruise past the Pass by Pinnacle Peak Park, a scenic 3,169-foot granite summit located in North Scottsdale, and Reata Pass, the last standing buildings of an old western town. Hear about these locations and their significance. At sunset, stop at a panoramic lookout point that overlooks the historic Great Western Trail. Feel free to exit the Jeep and walk around the scenic lookout. Whether you're interested in a couple of group photos or a full Instagram shoot with your camera, your guides are also great photographers willing to help. Depending on cloud conditions, the sky typically changes to various shades of pink, red, orange, and purple, all within the backdrop of the stunning Sonoran Desert.

Sonoran Desert: Guided 2-Hour UTV Adventure

2. Sonoran Desert: Guided 2-Hour UTV Adventure

Hop in, buckle up, turn the switch, and hit the trail in the toughest vehicle the Sonoran Desert has ever seen. The 4-seat UTV can be filled to capacity and can still climb trails, crawl boulders, and zip all over the desert without breaking a sweat. Whether you're craving adventure or simply want to enjoy some sightseeing at your own pace, this UTV is dialed in to deliver. With electric power steering, a thrilling V-Twin engine, and towing capacity to take everything with you, this exhilarating drive handles like a dream. 

Box Canyon and Pinal Mountains Half-Day ATV Tour

3. Box Canyon and Pinal Mountains Half-Day ATV Tour

Explore the extreme northeast corner of Florence, Arizona on board a thrilling Terrain Vehicle (ATV). Located halfway between Tucson and Phoenix, the Box Canyon and Pinal Mountains make for an ideal day out from both cities. The dirt trail that will set your blood racing is about 30 miles long, and you will have 3.25 hours to play. Once your guide has equipped you with all necessary safety equipment, you received a short training, and you are comfortable with your 4-wheel bike, head off along dirt trails that twist and turn and bump up and down the Pinal Mountains. Climb up and over the front range of the mountains while your guide points out Indian petroglyphs left behind by the ancient Native Americans. Another point of interest is an old adobe building that served as a way station for the Butterfield Overland Stage Coach Company during the 1860s. For a short time, it also serviced the Pony Express on what was known as the "Butterfield Route." The real highlight of the tour is Box Canyon. You'll be in the canyon for about 6 miles. Get set for the drama of the middle 3 miles, a slot canyon with walls only about 10-20 feet apart and 900 feet high on both sides!

Scottsdale: Tonto National Forest Off-Road H1 Hummer Tour

4. Scottsdale: Tonto National Forest Off-Road H1 Hummer Tour

Explore one of Arizona’s most picturesque trails on an off-road H1 Hummer excursion. The trail winds through the heart of the Tonto National Forest and Arizona’s most beautiful mountain ranges: the 4 Peaks and the Superstition Mountains. Enjoy beautiful views of Saguaro Lake and learn about the flora and fauna of this majestic landscape. Experience the thrill as the Hummer conquers the rugged desert terrain. If you crave excitement you’ll be sure to feel the rush of adrenalin as the H1 climbs 60-degree slopes, traverses 40-degree side slopes, and fords up to 2.5 feet of water. Even with all the thrills, this is a family friendly excursion that is suitable for all ages.

Phoenix & Scottsdale: Saguaro Lake Stand Up Paddleboard Tour

5. Phoenix & Scottsdale: Saguaro Lake Stand Up Paddleboard Tour

Experience the Sonoran Desert from a thrilling new perspective on a stand up paddleboard. Paddle through the gorgeous Saguaro Lake or Lower Salt River, taking in valuable insight into the ecosystem that is sustained by these indispensable desert oases. Maybe you’ll even catch a glimpse of a bald eagle or a bighorn sheep, which are among the many distinctive species found within this one-of-a-kind environment. Stand up paddleboarding is a perfect activity for the whole family, and your professional guide will spend some time at the start of the tour teaching the proper techniques. Geared up with a provided life jacket, snacks, and bottled water, appreciate the mountain peaks that surround you as you drift along, flanked by giant saguaro cactuses and desert foliage unique to this region. And be sure to splash around and have some fun while you’re at it.

From Scottsdale: Sonoran Desert & Tonto National Forest Trip

6. From Scottsdale: Sonoran Desert & Tonto National Forest Trip

Take a break from the streets of Scottsdale and get out of the city to discover the Sonoran Desert. Drive by jeep to the Pinnacle Peak neighborhood and see an old stagecoach station. Meet wild horses by the Verde River after walking through Tonto National Forest. Make your way to the Village at Pinnacle Peak to meet your friendly guide and group for the day. Jump in the jeep and admire the picturesque Arizonan landscape as you head towards the desert. Learn about local wildlife as your guide points out the different species you come across. Enter the Sonoran Desert and pass by a stagecoach station as you stroll around in the arid landscape with growing cacti and distant mountain peaks. Continue to the Tonto National Forest and begin walking along the winding tree-lined path. Find your way to the roaring Verde River to have the chance of watching wild horses playing on the riverbanks, before returning to Scottsdale.

Other Sightseeing Options in Tonto National Forest

Want to discover all there is to do in Tonto National Forest? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Tonto National Forest

Overall rating

4.9 / 5

based on 42 reviews

Such a fun & thrilling experience! This was a gift to my sister for her birthday and she loved it. Ray was our guide, he’s fantastic. We had a blast hanging out with him for 3 hours. He made sure we were safe, but having fun and he even brought water and treats for us. Ray stopped and showed us a couple historical landmarks, which was a nice surprise. Make sure you give him and extra big tip if he’s your guide. The best part was going thru the narrow canyon walls and the beautiful views. 10/10 recommend. I will definitely do this again.

Super fun experience! Six of us went so each couple had our own UTV. Devo our guide was awesome. He would explain what’s ahead on each of the trails and gave us the opportunity to switch drivers and switch up the order of the UTVs so we all took turns eating each other’s dust. LOL. He also took lots of pictures for us. The dessert and 4 Peaks Mountain were absolutely spectacular. Highly recommend and well worth the money.

Brian was our driver/guide. He was on-time, very friendly and knowledgeable and was great with the grandkids. We had a great time ! He taught us a lot of things about desert. We would highly recommend

Our driver/guide was phenomenal. Super respectful, and knowledgeable about the desert. Cactus Jack is the best out there!!!

Our Guide Bill was awesome!!! Very knowledgeable and helpful.