Make it to the “hump” of Phoenix’s highest point for amazing views across the Valley of the Sun.
Camelback Mountain gets its name from its distinctive profile, resembling a camel. With a head made of red sandstone and a granite body, this easily identifiable formation towers over the Sonoran Desert. The highest peak in Phoenix, the unmissable views make it a popular destination for walkers and rock climbers.
For almost 1,450 years, Camelback Mountain was the home of the Hohokam people, who lived in this part of Arizona from the first century AD. The magnificent caves in this landmark were used for religious ceremonies. It is not known why the Hohokam left this site, but the mountain remains popular today, thanks to its unusual shape and proximity to Phoenix.
Thousands of walkers come here every year to reach the summit, which stands at 824 metres above sea level. There are several routes to choose from—the Echo Canyon Summit Trail is quite short at less than 4 kilometres for the round trip, but this way is quite steep. For a more gradual ascent and some spectacular views across the Valley of the Sun, try the longer Cholla Trail. The total climb is around 365 metres, but be aware that whichever path you choose, the final ascent is always steep.
The paths are well signposted, but bear in mind that Arizona’s hot, dry climate makes this steep climb challenging, and there are other hazards such as snakes, narrow paths and sharp rocks to watch out for. Make sure you bring plenty of water and supplies in a backpack to keep your hands free for scrambling.
Rock climbers have plenty of options too, and get to enjoy the awesome views and fantastic desert flora, including cacti, lichen and wildflowers, from a different perspective.
Camelback Mountain is 25 minutes northeast of Phoenix. There is parking available, but it is limited, so get here early.
Please be aware that work began in January 2013 to upgrade several of the facilities and trails here to make future access easier, but closing the trail for a large part of the year.