8 Scottsdale Parks That Welcome Adventure and Nature Lovers

With over 300 days of sunshine per year and home to one of the largest urban wilderness areas in the U.S., Scottsdale offers outdoor adventure that all ages enjoy. Its desert location offers backcountry trails while other spots mix urban amenities with natural surroundings. And the area’s parks provide an ideal place to try it all. Whether hiking in the desert or looking for a place to take kids, these Scottsdale parks welcome visitors to play, explore and connect. Learn more about the top Scottsdale parks where you can embrace the great outdoors.

Don’t Miss These 8 Scottsdale Parks in Arizona

scottsdale parks hiking desert trail

McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Situate on over 30,000 acres, McDowell Sonoran Preserve features over 180 trails where visitors explore on foot, bike and horse. The preserve is located in the Sonoran Desert, providing outdoor lovers plenty to do and awe-inspiring mountain views. Top recreation activities at McDowell Sonoran Preserve include guided and self-guided hiking, biking, rock climbing, running, and horseback riding.

Families visiting Scottsdale should acquire a family passport, which takes them on five trailheads for a scavenger hunt. At each stop, get the passport stamped and earn a special souvenir after completion. In addition, McDowell Sonoran Preserve also hosts events throughout the year, such as educational seminars, sports competitions and yoga classes. Admission: Free, but donations are welcome.

Pinnacle Peak Park

Pinnacle Peak Park measures 150 acres and offers both daytime and nighttime hikes in the Sonoran Desert. The main trail provides a moderate hike of 3.5 miles with rock displays and rock climbing routes. Guided tours include interpretive, wildlife, full moon hikes and astronomy evenings for visitors older than 8 years of age.

Most activities range from one to two hours, however may be canceled due to rain. Call ahead to verify tours are on schedule, and guests should lock bikes at the bike racks. Admission and parking: Free, and donations are encouraged.

scottsdale parks butterfly garden

Butterfly Wonderland

Not an outdoor park but just as fun, the Butterfly Wonderland ranks as the largest indoor butterfly pavilion in the U.S. Guests of all ages flock to this attraction, earning it a spot among the top things to do in Arizona. Situated in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian community, Butterfly Wonderland combines natural beauty and culture into one convenient place.

See over 3,000 butterflies and special exhibits such as honey bees, rain-forest reptiles, fresh-water aquariums and more. Before leaving, watch a 3-D movie and see caterpillars emerge from their cocoons and fly into the conservatory.
Admission: $15 to $22 per person; combo tickets range from $23 to $60. Annual passes are available and save money.

Chaparral Park and Dog Park

Chaparral Park offers a mix-use location on over 100 acres with fun things to do. Visitors will find a multi-use path for walking, lake for boating and fishing, a playground, lighted ball fields and more. Chaparral Park welcomes locals and visitors to play all day and houses an aquatic center with pool open in June and July.

One of three dog parks in Scottsdale, Chaparral Dog Park has 3 acres of grass, play features and water fountains. This dog park is separated into two different areas, providing active and passive dogs a place to play and relax. Maintenance does occur weekly, so call ahead to make sure the park is open. Admission: Free and open sunrise to sunset.

scottsdale parks kayak family vacation

Eldorado Park

For over 50 years, Eldorado Park has provided the Scottsdale community with a place to connect and play. This 60-acre park offers sports and water recreation activities, including a multi-use path, community center, lighted ball fields and more. In addition, visitors find playgrounds, a lake for fishing, swimming pool and picnic areas, all ideal for families to spend the day outdoors.
Admission: Free and hours vary based on activity. Park hours are from sunrise to 10:30 p.m.

Cactus Park

Ranked as a must-see park in Scottsdale, Cactus Park Aquatic and Fitness Center has 17 acres of room to explore and play. The park houses a fitness center, an Olympic-sized pool, playground and various courts. The pool is open to the public, however the fitness center is only open to guests 14 and older with adult permission.

Admission: Includes individual passes, but families can purchase a lap swim/fitness center pass for $30 to $50, which provides access for 10 visits. Preseason summer family passes are also available.

kids scottsdale parks playground

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

Explore Scottsdale via train at that McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. This 30-acre park offers rides on the Paradise and Pacific Railroad, Charros Carousel and attractions within the park. The Scottsdale Railroad Museum houses memorabilia, trains and cars on display, and model railroads. In addition, kids enjoy playing on two outdoor play areas, which include shaded areas, water features swings, slides and trains.

Admission: Depends on attraction and age, but all-day wristbands cost about $10 per person. Guests may buy individual tickets to attractions, and the railroad park is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Vista Del Camino Park

Vista Del Camino Park, also home to a dog park, sits on 71 acres and has plenty of places to roam. In addition to lakes for boating and fishing, visitors  play on playgrounds and courts, try horseshoes, cool off on the spray pad and visit the community center. One of the top features is the disc golf course, which offers mostly flat and lightly wooded terrain.

Admission: Free and open sunrise until 10:30 p.m. The dog park has 1/2-acre with shade and water fountains, so pets can play as well.

Enjoy learning about the top Scottsdale parks? Read our picks for the top 8 Scottsdale golf courses or search affordable vacation rentals.