The Phoenix landscape is one of the most unique in the country. Miles and miles of red rocks and desert-scapes, as far as the eye can see. You’re not going to find that in other hotspots like NYC in LA.
Camelback Mountain is one of Phoenix’s many beautiful pieces of natural landscape, attracting thousands of visitors with great views and hiking opportunities. On your next group trip to Phoenix, call National Charter Bus at 480-626-4711 to transport your hiking group to Camelback Mountain in a modern motorcoach. We're available 24/7 to get you a personalized and free charter bus quote!
Arizona's desert-scape may look spread out, but Camelback Mountain isn’t all too far from Downtown Phoenix. The drive is about 25 minutes or 11 miles from Downtown Phoenix. You’ll have to hop on the AZ 202 Loop West and exit for Washington Street.
If you’re coming from Downtown Scottsdale, the drive over to Camelback Mountain is even shorter. It’s around 3.5 miles or a 12-minute drive. Just hop on E Camelback Rd to 56th St and voila, you’re there!
As one of the busiest outdoor recreation sites in the city, parking at Camelback Mountain is notoriously difficult. The mountain sees hundreds of visitors every day, meaning that parking can become limited, especially for large hiking groups.
Cholla Trail only offers street parking along Invergordon Road about half a mile from the trailhead. Be vigilant of where you park there are many residential streets around the area that do not allow street parking. Echo Canyon has a parking lot at the base of the mountain but it fills quickly with only about 135 spaces.
If you’re planning a major hike with a large group, consider renting a charter bus or minibus from National Charter Bus Phoenix. Finding parking for multiple vehicles can be a shot in the dark at Camelback Mountain. Renting a charter bus will not only keep your hiking group together, but you’ll have a smooth dropoff and pickup process in place. No parking problems in sight!
A charter bus rental will especially be helpful for groups looking to hike Cholla Trail. You’ll be dropped off on Invergordon Road, easily avoiding any pesky parking tickets if you park in the wrong location.
On top of forgoing the stressful parking situation, you’ll have comfortable, climate-controlled interiors to relax after a long, strenuous hike. Head up the trails with friends, family, or even business colleagues as a team-building activity.
Camelback Mountain is open from sunrise to sunset every day. The trailheads may close due to inclement weather or future trailhead and parking lot maintenance.
There are no entrance fees to park and hike the trails at Camelback Mountain. Paid, guided hikes are available through private companies and the City of Phoenix occasionally offers public programs at the trailhead.
Phoenix is famous for its year-round sunshine and warm temperatures, even in the winter months. Hiking Camelback in the winter may seem ideal due to the cooler weather. This may be true, but you may encounter even more trail congestion with out-of-towners fleeing snowy locations. If you’re not too worried about crowded trails, head up Camelback during winter.
Fall and spring offer more comfortable weather for hikes. Keep in mind, you may encounter more hikers during the spring months due to spring break and vacations. Even if you choose to hike in the cooler months, don’t underestimate the notoriously strenuous hike.
Hiking Camelback in summer is not for the faint of heart. With Phoenix’s summer temperatures easily breaking 100 degrees during the summer months, be careful of when you choose to hit the trails. Summer can be a popular time for vacations and visitors may want to hike the beautiful mountain while in town. If you aren’t a group of experienced hikers, do yourselves a favor and reconsider hiking Camelback in the summer.
No matter what season you decide to hike in, it’s usually best to get an early start. Plan to arrive at 6:00AM or earlier. This will help your group avoid larger crowds and also the dreaded afternoon heat.
As a whole, Camelback Mountain can be a beast of a hike for inexperienced individuals. When choosing which trail to take, you should consider your groups experience level and general hiking preferences.
Do you want more shade along your journey?
Are you a group of avid hikers looking for a challenge?
Is a shorter but more strenuous hike preferred?
Think about the following information before choosing Echo Canyon of Cholla:
Trailhead Address: 4925 E McDonald Dr, Phoenix, AZ 85018
Distance: 1.33 mile,s one way
Approximate time: 45 minutes to an hour, one way
The Echo Canyon trail starts on the west side of Camelback Mountain. This trail is extremely difficult and is recommended for groups of experienced hikers. It’s a steep hike at an elevation of 1,200 feet with loose rocks and major drops in the terrain.
In terms of mileage, Echo Canyon is the shorter of the two trails but the difficult terrain makes the distance seem irrelevant. Expect to use your hands and feet, as this trail can turn more into a rock climbing endeavor than a simple hike.
Camelback Mountain doesn't offer much shade as a whole, but Echo Canyon has a few more resting shady spots than Cholla.
Trailhead Address: 6131 E Cholla Ln, Phoenix, AZ 85253
Distance: 1.5 miles, one way
Approximate time: 1-1.5 hours, one way
Cholla is the “easier” of the two trails but is still a challenging hike. The Cholla trail starts on the Eastern side of Camelback and has a similar elevation gain of about 1,200 feet. Although Cholla has a similar elevation as Echo Canyon, the trail isn’t as steep and can be a little more forgiving.
The trail has a higher level of sun exposure than Echo Canyon but you’ll have more stable terrain to work with. The latter half of the trail can become more difficult and you may need to break out some climbing skills.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the blue trail markers on Cholla. Towards the end of the hike, following the markers can get tricky.
1. Start early: This can’t be stressed enough. Midday temperatures in Phoenix can become deadly. Starting earlier will help you avoid the heat and also the crowds.
2. Dress appropriately: Closed-toe, supportive shoes are a must. If you have hiking shoes with a sturdy grip, even better. Throw on comfortable, breathable clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. If you’re an avid hiker or climber and have gloves bring those too!
3. Water, water, water: Staying hydrated is one of the most important things on this hike. Bring as much water as your group can comfortably carry. Energy-boosting snacks are also recommended.
4. Sun protection: Don’t forget the sunscreen. Expect to be in the direct sun for at least 2 hours.
5. Leave Fido at home: Unfortunately, furry friends are not permitted on Camelback Mountain.
6. Prep before hitting the trail: This means use the bathroom before heading over to Camelback. Echo Canyon has bathroom facilities but Cholla does not. If you have an emergency, use the convenient bathroom on your charter bus rental.
7. Be realistic: Take your time, please. Rushing up Camelback won’t do you any favors, especially if you aren’t in decent shape. Take rest breaks where needed and give yourself at least 3 hours when planning your day.
8. Don’t be afraid to call it quits: Conquering Camelback Mountain can be a great workout and worth the blood, sweat, and tears. Over 300 people have to be rescued from Camelback Mountain every year, so please know your limits. Finishing the difficult hike isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re trying Echo Canyon. Feel free to turn back if reaching the mountain summit isn’t quite in your reach that day.
The City of Phoenix often advises visitors to try alternative hikes when Camelback Mountain is crowded. Instead of crawling past hundreds of other people on the trail or circling around a parking lot for 45 minutes, head over to one of these other beautiful locations.
With a motorcoach rental from National Charter Bus, Phoenix’s best hikes are just a ride away. National Charter Bus works with your unique schedule and itinerary. So if you need to make a last-minute change to your group hiking destination, we’ll be more than happy to accommodate.
Address: 10919 S Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85042
Number of Trails: 10+
South Mountain Park is located in south Phoenix and offers more than 50 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and more. The preserve is actually one of the largest municipal parks in the world, with more than 17,000 acres under its belt. Trails range in difficulty with options for everyone from beginners to experienced hikers wanting some tough, rocky terrain. Popular trails at South Mountain include Hidden Valley Trail and Holbert Trail to Dobbin's Lookout, the highest point in the park.
Address: 625 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008
Number of Trails: 8
Papago Park offers more than just recreational trails if you want to make a full day of outdoor activities. This Phoenix Phoenix Point of Pride is also home to the Phoenix Zoo, the Desert Botanical Gardens, and top-quality public golf courses. The hiking trails at Papago Park are generally easy and perfect for beginner groups or groups that need more ADA-accessible options.
Address: S Entrance Rd, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023 (Grand Canyon Visitor Center)
Number of Trails: 50+
Alright, we know the Grand Canyon isn’t in Phoenix, but at only a 3.5-hour drive, it's more than worth the time to experience this natural wonder. The Grand Canyon has trails that vary in difficulty and length. There’s everything from easy 1.5 mile hikes to difficult trails that require multiple days to complete. Overnight backcountry trails require permits and lots of planning, but if you’re just heading to the Grand Canyon for an easy day hike, you have plenty of options to choose from. Some of the most popular trails include the South Rim, Grandview, Bright Angel, and South Kaibab.
Traveling with a group can already be stressful enough. Add sweat, rocks, and lots of dirt to the equation, and that can make your trip even more difficult. Never fear—National Charter Bus has the group transportation covered. Your group hiking experience will start off smoothly and end even better with a comfortable, climate-controlled bus waiting for you at the trailhead. Call us today at 480-626-4711 to reserve your perfect Phoenix charter bus!