fossil creek

How to Stay Cool During the Arizona Summer

It’s here. The Arizona summer is upon us. You’ve got the AC blasting, the grill is firing away, and the sunblock stash has been quadrupled. While we’ve all gone through it before, I swear I forget how crappy 100+ truly is.

However, just because it’s triple digits outside, doesn’t mean we’re prisoners to the heat. There’s plenty of great places to go throughout the state to stay cool during the Arizona summer.


Humphrey’s Peak

Feeling adventurous? It’s time to find your way to the top of Arizona. Humphrey’s Peak is a fantastic hike that will allow you to look down on the state from an elevation of over 12,600 feet. Around a 10-mile round trip hike, plan this as a full day hike and bring plenty of water and food. Altitude might be a factor so take your time if you start to feel it in your lungs or head. But, if you’re not mentally or physically ready for the full hike, simply driving up to Snow Bowl (elevation 9,000+) and spend the day perusing the area.

Here’s another 12 hikes to do in the cool Flagstaff temperatures.

Lava Tube

Be sure to bundle up even in the dead of summer as the Lava Tube is consistently chilly, but provides a really cool environment to check out. You walk, as the name suggests, in a former lava tube. You’ve got to supply your own lights so don’t forget the headlamps, but if you find a place where you’re all alone, don’t be afraid to turn off the lights and experience complete darkness. It’s pretty neat!

Sunset Crater

This is the youngest volcano on the Colorado Plateau and blew sometime between 1040 and 1100. There’s not a ton to look at but it would occupy a few hours of your day. Plus, there’s a campground in the area that is first come first serve. If you get lucky enough to find a spot, this would be a great spot to camp for the weekend.

Grand Canyon Caverns

On the way to Havasupai, the Grand Canyon Caverns are caves with guided tours. The remoteness of them means it shouldn’t be too crowded (this is more an assumption as I’ve never been) but regardless, it’d be a nice place to check out for a day. I mean, how many caves do ya’ll get to explore down here in the valley?

Grand Canyon National Park

Get your National Park on and see one of the seven wonders of the world. You won’t be the only one making the visit so go early or else the lines to get in will be daunting. Better yet, go for sunrise and witness something spectacular.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon Sunrise


Water Wheel

Easily accessible at only 3 miles round trip, this is a great spot to lounge, cliff jump, and swim. Be careful venturing to this location, though, as it’s located in a flash flood zone that has taken lives in recent years. Here’s some photos of the hike and surrounding area.

Fossil Creek

Ya’ll already know about this place, so I won’t waste much time here. Permits are needed. Bring plenty of food and water. It’s beautiful. No, I haven’t been yet and this is an issue.

fossil creek
Photo via Wikipedia

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

I’ve never been here before but it is one of the places I hope to venture up to this summer. There’s an entrance fee with an assortment of short hikes you can do inside the state park.

September Update:

I finally was able to get here and it’s a cool spot to check out. I would surmise you can see it all in half a day leaving you to check out other areas on the Mogollon Rim.

Tonto Natural Bridge Tonto Natural Bridge Tonto Natural Bridge


There’s a plethora of watering holes to cool off in while in the Sedona area. <<– Just to highlight again, this is a full list of Watering Holes in Arizona and I’d suggest using this as your main resource but I’ll highlight a few below <<–

Slide Rock

This is probably the most famous water area in the state. Plan to get there quite early as the parking fills up fast. It offers cliff jumping for the more adventurous and thanks to the slippery rocks, you can slide down an eighth of a mile of “track.”

Slide Rock
Photo via Flickr

Grasshopper Point

Right beside Slide Rock is Grasshopper Point, another place that has cliff jumping and a provides a nice place to hang out. It has a small day use fee which will keep the place from being too crowded, a key aspect to truly enjoying areas like this. In the summer months, most free places will be uber-crowded and sometimes being away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds is just what the doctor ordered.

The Crack

Instead of going under the I-17 towards Sedona, go right off the exit ramp. A couple miles down the road you’ll see parking and a trail head. It looks to be a 7 mile round trip hike which might help keep it less busy than the other spots where you can simply walk right up to it. This has a huge swimming spot with cliff jumping up to 30 feet depending on water depth. This might be the hidden “gem” of the area.

West Fork

There’s also the West Fork hike that lets you walk in Oak Creek Canyon. Plus, the views on this hike are stunning.  This is a 7 mile round trip hike, but you can theoretically stop anywhere if you just love the scenery. Additionally, this is is a flat hike so go crazy in your chacos/tevas/keens!


Mt. Lemmon

Standing at over 10,000 feet, Mt. Lemmon is an oasis in the Arizona desert. With camping, hiking, and even a COOKIE CABIN, the mountain is a reprieve for those suffering through another hot summer. Around two hours from Phoenix and 45 minutes from the UofA, it’s the perfect place to spend a weekend without having to drive too far or spend much money at all. I’ll leave this opened ended as there’s so many things to do up there.

Other Spots:

Cibecue Falls

Haven’t been here before but it’s a spot I really want to check out. I had a friend visit this place a couple weeks back and it looked amazing. With a waterfall and small swimming hole below it, what’s not to love about this place! The only downside is it’s about two hours from Phoenix, which makes it a full day trip. Regardless, it’s better than baking in the Arizona heat. It’s four miles round trip. Just make sure to bring plenty of water and food for the day.


I’ve surely missed some spots, but I feel these are some of the best places you’ll want to go. And if you have hidden gems, please, tell me, so I can also go!


Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.

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