“Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” – John 1:3, NIV
When you are at college, you may want to have some adventures off campus. However, some activities, like going to the movies, can get expensive. If you don’t know what to do but do not want to spend too much money, consider trying outdoor recreation. You and your friends can enjoy a nice weekend trip in the Arizona mountains or some nearby day hikes.
Why Go Camping and Hiking?
Not only will you be exploring the many lovely landscapes in Arizona, but you will also get to relax. Many people find nature to be a great escape from the worries of modern life. Enjoying God’s creation allows us to better understand His power and glory. Also, it can lead to great times bonding with friends after a week full of classes and work.
Types of Camping
While most would think of camping as just pitching a tent, there are different styles you may find appealing. One of the most adventurous ways to camp is backpacking. This is where you pack up all your gear and hike to a campsite for the night. It is very fun to challenge yourself and you will be able to see some great scenery.
If you have more experience backpacking and want to challenge yourself, there is the option of ultra-light backpacking. By taking only the most essential items on a trip, you can take off a lot of weight. This approach is great for day hikes since you can take a small backpack instead of all your equipment.
Dry camping is the exact opposite of backpacking. When you go dry camping you usually use your car to drive to your campsite. Once you arrive, your car can act as the backpack, storing the tents and other equipment. This style of outdoor adventure can be great for larger groups and families looking for easier transportation.
Types of Hiking
Summit hiking can be a rewarding trip since the scenery you view from the top of a mountain can be beautiful. Typically you want to work up to summit hikes since they can be hard to do. It’s important to plan out any hike regardless of the destination so others know where you are if they need to get in contact with you.
Long distance hiking has the opposite goal from reaching a summit. As the name implies, you will be hiking across large landscapes and focusing on enjoying the journey. These hikes can take longer depending on your destination and goals and make for an enjoyable long weekend trip.
Day hikes are a great option for college students. There are plenty of trails around the valley that can be done in a day. This activity is also a great date idea or a way to spend time with friends that is different from regular outings.
Great Spots to Camp in Arizona
Many great places to camp include the national forest campgrounds. Arizona has plenty of national forests to explore like the Tonto, Coconino and Prescott forests. These places can be great for weekend getaways. However, there can be camping restrictions to prevent forest fires in the dry season. It is important to check if there are any restrictions before you go.
If you're not looking for a strenuous hike, you can always go for a nature walk. Phoenix also has many parks and gardens to enjoy for a nice day trip. Hammocking can be a great way to relax, too. For example, GCU’s campus has several fields that have perfect spots for setting up hammocks.
Great Spots to Hike in Arizona
A popular example of summit hiking is Camelback Mountain. Once you get to the top you will see a great city view of Phoenix and Scottsdale. Though if you want a natural view some great destinations are Woodchute Trail in Prescott and Mount Lemmon in Tucson.
If you want a challenge or a larger hike, consider the Maricopa Trail. This trail is a connection of multiple trails that will eventually lead to a single path around Phoenix. Hiking these parts will take you to great spots like Lake Pleasant and Cave Creek.
What to Bring for Outdoor Recreation
Whatever you decide to do, make sure to bring plenty of water. Hydration is important for anyone looking to exercise outdoors. Arizona experiences high temperatures for part of the year, so make sure to bring a few water bottles or a hydration pack.
Snacks are great for when you get hungry on the trail. Make sure you bring snacks that contain protein or nutrition so your body will take longer to digest. Some suggestions you might enjoy are trail mix, beef jerky or dried fruits.
A first aid kit is also a good idea for a hiking trip to stay safe. If you or a friend gets hurt, you want to make sure you're prepared. You can get pre-made first aid kits at most big-box retail stores.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.