Go ahead. Make plans to stay up late. Some of Arizona’s best tours take place after the sun sets. Explore the desert with night-vision scopes, take a moonlight hike or hunt for UFOs. You’ll see Arizona in a whole new way.
Explore Greater Phoenix after Sundown
You have several options for a night hike in the Phoenix metro area. Through Take a Hike Arizona, you can schedule a summer evening hike suitable for the entire family. Your guide will provide black lights for finding and viewing scorpions as well as water and snacks for the trail.
Or participate in a full-moon or flashlight hike at one of the regional parks. The Maricopa County Parks & Recreation Department also holds scorpion hunts and stargazing programs. Check the online calendar for dates and times.
To enjoy the desert from a paved perspective, try a night bike ride. The Boulders Resort offers guests a 1 1/2-mile, on-property ride that introduces you to local flora, fauna and history
For a serene evening float, board The Dolly Steamboat for a twilight or astronomy dinner cruise. The tours provide a perfect view of Canyon Lake’s breathtaking sunsets and dark night skies.
To spy wildlife during the summer, skip the daytime tour and opt instead for a night jeep tour. Stellar Adventures transports you to watering holes where, using night-vision technology, you might see such animals as white-tailed deer, badgers, skunk, coyotes and javelina. For a journey through our solar system and beyond, try Stellar Adventures’ Star Gazing tour.
Desert Storm Hummer Tours also offers nighttime off-road tours. Their guides drive through the desert without headlights, maximizing the effectiveness of the night-vision and thermal-image scopes they provide. Halfway through the tour, riders disembark for 30 minutes of hands-on exploration.
Several of Phoenix’s top attractions also have night tours. Phoenix Zoo holds an after-hours summer experience called Prowl & Play once a month, June–August, as well as regular summer family camps that include guided trail hikes.
Next door, at the Desert Botanical Garden, you can visit 10 discovery stations on self-paced garden flashlight tours every Thursday and Saturday, June–August.
In Scottsdale, experience Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and school, Taliesin West, on a two-hour night tour (refreshments are included).
Nighttime Adventures in Sedona
Take in Sedona’s world-famous scenery under the stars on a guided moonlight hike in Red Rock State Park. Enjoy sunset and moonrise from a perch in the park; then return to the visitor center by the light of the full moon. The park offers the popular 2- to 2 1/2-hour hikes twice a month, April–October. Reservations are required.
If you’re more interested in a motorized outing, call Veedub Tours to experience Sedona in a vintage Volkswagen microbus. Although owner Chris Gruneberg doesn’t offer a standard night tour, he can create a custom evening itinerary with views of the Verde Valley, stargazing ops or even a local’s tour of Sedona hotspots.
For an out-of-this-world Arizona night tour, join the guides from Ye Olde UFO Store to hunt for extraterrestrials. Using night-vision optics, electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors and a high-definition video camera and screen, you will see unexplainable crafts as well as orbs and, sometimes, even faces and beings.
Tucson by Starlight
The moonlight hikes at Saguaro National Park are one of the most popular things to do in Arizona at night. Choose from four options: two 2 1/2-mile hikes, a moderate 3 1/2-mile hike or an 8-mile hike. These seasonal hikes fill up quickly, so make reservations early. Or watch the full moon rise at a visitor center patio talk instead.
In nearby Sabino Canyon, you can explore the desert on an open-air tram. Sabino Canyon Tours takes you on a moonlit ride through the recreation area with a 12-minute break for exploration at Stop #9.
Tucson’s renowned Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum remains open on summer Saturday evenings June–August. A self-guided tour of the grounds is enhanced by presentations on nighttime topics, including nocturnal animals – such as winged predators – and astronomy.