The world is bigger than we could possibly imagine, and it’s scary to think we will never even scratch the surface in this lifetime. Even if we do travel to the same places, we see the world through different eyes, creating a unique experience. I am inspired by each of your stories, just waiting to be told.Phoenix is known for a few things in the tourism world- spring training, golf courses, corporate meetings, and suburban hell. None of these things would interest me in the city, if I were a traveler considering a place to visit in the Southwest. If anything, as an outdoor enthusiast, I would think that this city was the last place I wanted to be in. But, as it turns out, I live here, and I’ve learned to love it. But why?You won’t find Phoenix, the capital of Arizona, on many lists of the best cities for nature lovers, but it is home to one of the largest urban parks in the world, South Mountain. Even better, South Mountain isn’t alone, and some of the mountain preserves that I visit regularly in the city include the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, McDowell Mountains, Deem Hills, the Sonoran Desert Preserve, the White Tanks and more… Some are operated by different cities in the Phoenix-metro area, others are cared for by Maricopa county, but either way, there is no lack of options.Hiking can feel like it has a different culture here, especially on some of the extremely popular trails. It seems like plenty of people are just out to get a work out, rather than explore nature, and that can leave me feeling a little exasperated. I like to take my time, and sometimes on the major trails like Camelback, it can feel impossible not to be rushed. That being said, those parks that I mention above have always left me with plenty of other options. You can be completely alone in the middle of the city, just you and the desert, and that’s a pretty special thing. So, if you want to explore the desert, and experience a mix of human habitation and nature, Phoenix is the place to be. You can spend the morning hiking for 10 miles on Trail 100, and then hop in your car, drive ten minutes, and be downtown, enjoying the growing culinary scene of the city.Aireona is a ostensibly a PhD student studying the grey areas between tourism and biodiversity conservation. But she is moreso a desert-born, nature-lover who has taken to exploring the world and writing about it when she can. Follow her adventures on her blog, twitter and pinterest too!
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Have you visited Phoenix before? What drew you to this destination?