Yes, Arizona’s famously dry heat may be ideal for lazily lounging by a pool, but the state also offers plenty of thrilling summertime family adventures sure to keep you cool in the Arizona sun.
Swing from the Trees
Childhood memories of tree climbing are brought back to life in a big way at the new Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course.
Just minutes outside of Flagstaff, in historic Fort Tuthill County Park, families can ascend into the treetops to swing from ropes, brave wobbly bridges and zoom through the cool pines on zip lines.
Float through Fresh Mountain Air
Despite the seasonal absence of snow, Flagstaff’s Arizona Snowbowl continues to draw summertime visitors for breathtaking scenic sky rides to the top of the San Francisco Peaks.
Families enjoy a 25-minute ride in each direction while soaking in the cool air and panoramic views.
Sunrise Park Resort, nestled in the heart of the White Mountains, also offers relaxing scenic sky rides through picturesque Ponderosa pine forest.
Both sky rides operate seasonally, opening Memorial Day weekend and closing in late summer or mid-fall.
Jet Ski the Colorado
A sunny day on the Colorado River is a perfect day for jet skiing.
There’s nothing quite like the wind in your hair and the spray in your face during an exhilarating ride as you navigate one of the nation’s largest, most majestic rivers.
Many companies along Arizona’s West Coast offer personal watercraft rentals, such as RPM River Rentals in Bullhead City, Invert Sports in Parker and Windsor Beach Rentals in Lake Havasu City.
Tour a Cool Modern Marvel
A National Historic Landmark and named one of the Top 10 Construction Achievements of the 20th Century by the ConExpo-Con/Agg exposition, it’s no wonder Hoover Dam draws more than a million visitors each year.
And why shouldn’t it? The Hoover Dam gives visitors the opportunity to stand atop a modern engineering wonder, then traverse through concrete tunnels within the dam.
It is important to note that to tour the dam children must be at least 8 years old, and the tours are not wheelchair accessible.
Navigate the Verde River
Embark on an authentic Sedona adventure on a guided river trip.
Amass cherished family memories – as well as awesome family adventure points – as you kayak, paddle, hike or ride through Sedona’s famed red rock scenery.
Sedona Adventure Tours offers a variety of guided trips, including braving Arizona’s wild and scenic Verde River in buoyant, inflatable Ducky kayaks.
Focus on the Cosmos
Take a guided tour up to a cool 10,720 feet on North Central Arizona’s Mount Graham to see the world’s most powerful binocular telescope at Mount Graham International Observatory (MGIO).
Tours of this world-renowned observatory facility begin at Safford’s Discovery Park Campus. Here, exhibits encourage visitors to ponder the origins of the universe as well as the complexities of building the tools to explore it. Kids are also sure to love a virtual tour through space aboard the Space Shuttle Polaris.
While Discovery Park Campus is open year-round, the MGIO tours run mid-March through mid-November (weather permitting), and must be booked in advance.
Slip, Slide and Splash
The metro Phoenix area’s summer climate provides the ultimate backdrop for water park fun.
Arizona’s largest water park, Wet ’n’ Wild Phoenix, debuted its brand new, multi-million dollar expansion, Wet ’n’ Wild Jr., over Memorial Day weekend of 2012. Look for kid-friendly versions of the park’s main attractions.
On the other side of Greater Phoenix, making its 2012 summer season debut, is The Revolution at Mesa Golfland Sunsplash. This thriller drops riders nearly seven stories into an open bowl.
Go Tubing on the Salt River
Lasso up a tube (or two) and get ready for a smooth, wet ride bobbing down the Lower Salt River in the beautiful Tonto National Forest.
Salt River Tubing & Recreation offers tube rentals and shuttle service to and from the river. Children must be at least 8 years old and four feet tall to participate.
You can also tube the river with Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch. Then extend your stay on the banks in one of the property’s comfortable, rustic “ranchettes.”
Climb to the Top of the “Mountain”
It is no secret Tucson’s mountainous region makes it a haven for rock-climbers, and summer’s toasty temps needn’t keep the family from practicing their scrambling skills.
Tucson’s indoor Rocks and Ropes climbing gym offers adventurers of all levels of expertise the chance to scale boulders and rock walls under the safety and guidance of watchful instructors – and in air-conditioned comfort.
Encounter Earth’s Wonders
Where can you explore a tropical rainforest, savannah grasslands and a million-gallon ocean all in one place? It’s all under the glass of The University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2.
Tour this world-class research facility to see scientific discovery in action and get a behind-the-scenes look at how this miniature world beneath 7.2 million cubic feet of sealed glass operates.
See for yourself why Time-Life Books named Biosphere 2 one of the 50 Must-See Wonders of the world.