Snowbirds favor Phoenix. With more than 300 days of sun on average annually, the greater Phoenix metropolitan area—known poetically as the Valley of the Sun—has become one of America’s most popular winter destinations.
It’s not hard to figure out why. During the winter when the snow flies up north, the Valley of the Sun offers up some of the greatest winter weather anywhere.
The Phoenix area offers a stunning variety of attractions, satisfying culture seekers, outdoor adventurers, and fans of the Old West, cacti, and botanical gardens.
An impressive world-class museum, the Heard Museum houses collections of Native American artifacts and artwork. Though the museum aims to educate about the arts, heritage, and lives of all the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the emphasis lies on the American Indian tribes of the Southwestern region. In addition to its quality collections, the Heard offers education programming and festivals. The museum has two locations, one in downtown Phoenix and second in north Scottsdale both of which feature a shop and cafe.
Desert Botanical Gardens
One of the finest botanical gardens anywhere is in Papago Park. Home to one of the world’s largest cactus gardens, the variety of plants come from all over the world. Besides five easy walking trails, the Desert Botanical Gardens also hosts special events year round from concerts and festivals to desert landscape sessions.
An historic road and a National Scenic Byway, the Apache Trail winds through, around, up, and down the Superstition Mountains. The road winds its way from Apache Junction, passing Goldfield, Superstition Mountain Museum, Lost Dutchman State Park, Canyon lake, Apache Lake, and Roosevelt Lake. It’s a trip into outback Arizona and back in time. It’s not a modern road and is paved just past Tortilla Flat. From there it’s a narrow dirt road until near Roosevelt Dam.
The White Tank Mountains rise west of Phoenix, forming the western boundary of the Valley of the Sun. Nearly 30,000 acres makes this the largest regional park in Maricopa County. The park offers approximately 25 miles of shared-use trails, ranging in length from 0.9 mile to 7.9 miles, and difficulty from easy to strenuous. There are 40 developed sites for RV camping. All sites provide a water hook-up, 30/50-amp electrical service, picnic table, barbecue grill, and fire ring.
Goldfield is the reconstruction of the valley’s only ghost town. Established in the late 1800s, it was a short-lived boomtown connected to the Mammoth Mine. Walk down Main Street, explore the many shops and historic buildings. Tour the historic Mammoth Gold Mine and visit the Goldfield Museum. Pan for gold then take a ride on Arizona’s only narrow gauge train. Witness an old west gun fight performed by the Goldfield Gunfighters.
At 323 acres, this park is Arizona’s largest and oldest botanical garden, founded in the 1920s. Managed by the University of Arizona and Arizona State Parks, the arboretum features more than 3,000 types of Sonoran Desert vegetation, a 1.5-mile main loop walking trail, and annual events including a plant sale and the World Desert Fair.
From boating to water-skiing to parasailing and scuba diving, this park offers an abundance of aquatic activities. The park has two boat ramps, both of which have restrooms and paved parking lots. For those who like to wet a line, Lake Pleasant is stocked with 12 species of fish and the park hosts fishing tournaments year-round. The park has more than 4 miles of pedestrian-only trails. There are 148 sites for RV and tent camping, plus restrooms and shower facilities.
The Riparian Institute oversees a 110-acre preserve in Gilbert that provides great bird-watching. More than 200 species have been spotted here. The institute works to educate people and promote awareness of Arizona’s ecology, and the preserve offers hiking and biking trails and fishing.
Newcomers to Arizona are often struck by Desert Fever.
Desert Fever is caused by the spectacular natural beauty and serenity of the area.
Early symptoms include a burning desire to make plans for the next trip “south”.
There is no apparent cure for snowbirds.