photo by Laurel Darren

Sonoran Sojourns

Written by Jenna Ortiz Category: Lifestyle Issue: January 2019
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Revel in the cooler weather and opt outside with these desert exploration experts.

360 Adventures
For most of his life, Tucson native Bruce Leadbetter has explored the outdoors. The 360 Adventures owner uses his experience to help clients find the best al fresco adventure for them. Options include more than 60 tours that span the entire state, from backpacking in the Grand Canyon to sightseeing in Tombstone. One of Leadbetter’s favorite tours is a trip across the Sonoran Desert – on horseback. “When you come to Arizona, you think of cowboys – you can’t help it.” Group horseback tours of the Sonoran Desert start at $50 per person for the hour and depart from Phoenix. Check online for availability.
480-722-0360, 360-adventures.com

Wild Bunch Desert Guides
Runner and cyclist Laurel Simmons started the boutique company Wild Bunch Desert Guides three years ago. Guides take guests on private, custom tours that include hiking, mountain biking and road cycling. “I want them to talk about our guide for days post-tour, and how amazing they were,” Simmons says. “Or clink beers together because they rode 15 miles on mountain bike[s].” Simmons recently added a full-day tour of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve that combines hiking and mountain biking (starts at $250 per person). Call for availability.
602-663-0842, wildbunchdesertguides.com

Arizona Desert Mountain Jeep Tours
You don’t have to get gritty to get outdoors. Since 1990, married couple Kim and Marianne Fenn have offered trips in a rugged, open-air Jeep through the desert around the Valley. “We want our guests to have an appreciation of the Sonoran Desert and learn about the wonders of this unique ecosystem,” Marianne says. Guides dressed as cowboys lead the caravan for the Sonoran Desert Tour (daily, 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.; $91.88 per person). Take in the sunset in the Tonto National Forest (4 p.m. daily; $81.08 per person), or inquire for pricing on barbecues and team-building activities.
800-567-3619, azdesertmountain.com