It’s August — which means we’re officially in the dog days of summer in the Valley of the Sun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t soak it all in and around our Scottsdale, AZ vacation rentals! And it’s not just limited to our neck of the woods, surrounding cities, like Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler, Glendale—and even more just a short drive away—all offer wonderful ways to stay cool when you’re Staying With Style.
Check out these five great tips to beat the heat from a Phoenix-native, courtesy of Phoenix.org:
Tubing The Salt River
It sounds somewhat poetic: The Salt River is a stream formed by the confluence of the White River and the Black River in eastern Arizona, and it flows through russet mountains, Ponderosa forests, and lower desert tributaries of metro Phoenix. But in the summertime at the Mesa launch point of Salt River Tubing , the river is really a jam-packed party on water, with people of all ages angling to cruise their tubes away from the crowds and crack open a can (or several) of beer.
Do: Put something sturdy on.
Thick denim shorts should do the trick. Just make sure they don’t already have holes back there. Men’s shorts might be OK, but bikinis bottoms are doomed if the wearer, say, drifts rear-first into a rock.
Do: Bring beer.
Ice chests are available to rent onsite, or you can bring your own cooler (Styrofoam coolers are “not recommended”). All ice chests and coolers will be checked for glass bottles.
Don’t: Pack glass bottles.
They are prohibited at Salt River Tubing and the Lower Salt River Recreational Area. And why would you bring glass anyway when aluminum stays so much colder?
Do: Wear shoes.
Not flip-flops or Birkenstocks, but actual sneakers or tennis shoes – something with soles to protect your feet from the rocks on the river bottom and the occasional broken bottles thanks to the rule-breakers who somehow got glass past the cooler checks.
Don’t: Tie your tubes together.
Some people might think it’s fun to tie their innertubes together to form a chain and “snake” down the river, but what really happens is they usually become a tangle of ropes and rubber blocking others peoples’ paths down the stream.
Do: Slather your skin in sunblock.
Seriously. According to saltrivertubing.com, the minimum recommendation is 30 SPF, but you can stand a whole lot more. Apply before and during your excursion, unless you want to look like part of an intoxicated lobster parade.
Don’t: Forget to bring a lot of water.
Alcohol is great, but water is life – especially in triple-digit temps with the sun beating down on you. Drink a minimum of one to two 24-ounce bottles per hour.
Where: 9200 N. Bush Hwy., Mesa
When: Open every day from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., float times range from two to five hours
Cost: $17 per person or tube (includes tube rental, shuttle service, and free parking at the Salt River Tubing Recreation tubing terminal)
More info: saltrivertubing.com
Visit Tonto Natural Bridge
A series of trails traverse through and around Tonto Natural Bridge (the largest natural travertine arch in the world), which features grottos with hanging greenery and caves with cascading waterfalls. That’s nature-speak for the perfect spot for panoramic pictures and Insta-worthy scenery.
Do: Grab a map.
The park’s two trails are easily confused and your five-mile hike could easily turn into 13 miles if you make a wrong turn.
Don’t: Wear flip-flops.
The rocks, water and brush are sure to guarantee a slip.
Do: Bring your camera.
The waterfall off the bridge makes for a super-solid social media photo op.
Don’t: Forget water.
Once you start on your hike, there aren’t any freshwater sources. Trust us: You don’t want to be the person trying to use the fall as your own personal water fountain.
Where: Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, located in Tonto National Forest near Payson
When: Open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last entry at 4 p.m.)
Cost: $7 per person
More info: 928-476-4202, azstateparks.com
Explore Fossil Creek Falls
You probably won’t find any fossils on the mile-long hike to the Fossil Creek waterfall, but you will find clear, blue and turquoise water and lush greenery unlike anywhere else in the state. Fossil Creek offers opportunities for cliff jumping, swimming and sunbathing. You know what that means, kids – sunblock and hydration are a must.
Do: Buy a permit.
During the summer months, a permit is required to park your car or hike. Permits can be reserved or purchased online at recreation.gov, but they’re not available onsite.
Do: BYOF (Bring Your Own Food).
There are plenty of places for a picnic by the water, so whether you throw a few bags of chips or a three-course meal in your CamelBak, Fossil Creek is a great place to grub.
Do: Go for a dip.
With the sun relentlessly beating down and all that refreshing water, this is no time to just sit and tan, people.
Don’t: Risk it.
We get it – capturing a backflip off the waterfall would kill the Snapchat game, but always remember to take a moment to assess the situation. If a cliff looks too high or the water looks too shallow, don’t make the dive.
Where: Fossil Creek Road, Strawberry
When: Open every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: $10 for a daily parking permit
Website: 928-203-2900, www.fs.usda.gov
Enjoy Lake Pleasant
“Survive Lake Pleasant” sounds like the title of a comedic horror film, right? But Lake Pleasant Regional Park is seriously cool, if you follow a few (yawn) rules and play nice.
Do: Wear sunblock.
This should just be Phoenix’s slogan everywhere all summer.
Don’t: Bring an inflatable pool raft.
Why would you bring a thin latex blowup swan to a cactus-dappled desert lake anyway?
Don’t: Swim after your inflatable pool raft if it blows away.
Oh no you didn’t. Better hope some hottie in a speedboat saves you from drowning.
Do: Cook with gas.
Gas and propane grills are permitted year-round in the ramada areas and developed campsites.
Don’t: Start a fire.
Maricopa County Parks and Recreation instituted its annual fire ban on May 8. Smoking is not prohibited, but no longer considered cool.
Do: Also check out Tempe Town Lake.
It’s closer to the center of the metro area. Granted, it can be a lot more crowded than Lake Pleasant on account of not being out in the middle of nowhere, but that also means less privacy.
Where: Lake Pleasant Regional Park, 41835 N. Castle Hot Springs Road, Morristown
When: Open 24/7
Cost: $6 per day
More info: 928-501-1710, www.maricopacountyparks.net
Take A Spin Around Water Wheel
Why overpay to spend the day at a waterpark when you can visit a less-crowded equivalent surrounded by nature? Water Wheel near Payson offers a scenic out-and-back hike that gives way to a waterfall and swimming hole with a natural wooden staircase and rock slide.
Warning: This scenic spot is like buried treasure – annoying and tedious to find, but well worth the hunt.
Do: Camp nearby.
If sleeping under the stars is your style, there are a number of campgrounds close to Water Wheel that make it easy to get up and go.
Do: Wear a bathing suit.
It’s imperative that you wear comfortable hiking attire and sturdy footwear for the trek to the swimming hole, but there’s nowhere to change into your swimming gear once you get there. We recommend rocking your suit under your clothes for a seamless post-hike dive into the water. Don’t forget to bring a towel to dry off or lie out for optimal lounging on the surrounding rocks.
Do: Bring Fido.
Most of the spots on this list require you to leave your four-legged friends at home, but Water Wheel hike is mellow enough for those with a tail to tag along (as long as they’re on a leash, of course).
Do: Make a pre-hike pit stop.
There are no bathrooms once you head out on the hike, so make sure you hit the powder room (a.k.a porta-potty) in the parking lot before you set off.
Don’t: Get caught up with fancy footwork.
The entire area is pretty wet and rocky, so we don’t recommend practicing your moonwalk here. The “ladder” at the edge of the main waterfall is especially slippery, so use caution if you choose to climb it.
Where: Water Wheel Falls, located in Tonto National Forest near Payson
When: Open 24/7
Cost: $6 for a parking permit
More info: 928-474-7900, www.fs.usda.gov