Arizona’s famously dry heat may be ideal for lazily lounging by a pool, but the state also offers plenty of thrilling summertime adventures sure to keep your family cool.
This summer, why not...
1. 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 more than 30 zip lines. A separate kids course gives younger adventurers an exciting obstacle challenge on a smaller scale.
2. Float through fresh mountain air
Take in the view aboard Arizona Snowbol's Scenic Chairlift / Credit: AOT
Despite the seasonal absence of snow, Arizona Snowbowl's Scenic Chairlift in Flagstaff continues to draw summertime visitors for its cool air and breathtaking scenic sky rides to the top of the San Francisco Peaks. Skip the skis and take in a bird's eye view of the Grand Canyon from the Snowbowl’s chairlift—right to the top of an extinct volcano at 11,500 feet!
Sunrise Park Resort, nestled in the heart of the White Mountains, also offers relaxing scenic sky rides through picturesque Ponderosa pine forest. Families can keep the fun going with zip-line tours, downhill mountain biking, archery course, water sports, horseback tours and more.
Both sky rides operate seasonally, opening Memorial Day weekend and closing in late summer or mid-fall.
3. Tour a cool modern marvel
Visitors atop the Hoover Dam pause by the towers / Credit: CrackerClips-AdobeStock
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 the Hoover Dam draws more than a million visitors each year. And why shouldn’t it?
Visitors have the opportunity to stand atop a modern engineering wonder, then traverse through concrete tunnels within the dam. Do note that children must be at least 8 years old to tour the dam, and the tours are not wheelchair accessible.
4. Focus on the cosmos
Take a guided tour up to a cool 10,720 feet on North Central Arizona’s Mount Graham within the Coronado National Forest to see the world’s most powerful binocular telescope at Mount Graham International Observatory (MGIO).
Full-day tours of this world-renowned observatory facility begin at Eastern Arizona College's Discovery Park Campus in Safford. Here, exhibits encourage visitors to ponder the origins of the universe as well as the complexities of building the tools to explore it. Lunch is even provided.
While Discovery Park Campus is open year-round, the MGIO tours run mid-May through October (weather permitting) and must be booked in advance. Children must be at least 8 years old and well-supervised for the tours.
5. Slip, slide, and splash
Metro Phoenix’s summer climate provides the ultimate backdrop for water park fun.
Arizona’s largest water park, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor (formerly Wet 'n' Wild) Phoenix, features more than 30 thrilling rides, including the first-of-its-kind dueling H2O coaster! Wet ’n’ Wild Jr. is one of four kid-friendly areas in the park for the younger family members.
On the other side of Greater Phoenix is Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa. During summer, the water park hosts Night Splash, a late-night event that adds a thrilling dimension to its chutes, slides and other water features (safely lighted, of course).
6. Encounter earth’s wonders
Explore a tropical rainforest, savannah grasslands and a million-gallon ocean all in one place. It's possible under the glass domes of the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 in Oracle, north of Tucson.
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. The Biosphere 2 offers multiple types of tours from those with a historical twist to others geared toward families and younger visitors.
This article was updated by Arizona Office of Tourism in May 2018.