Located just south of the Mojave and stretching down into Mexico, the Sonoran Desert is full of the natural splendor of the southwest. Surrounding the booming cities of Phoenix and Tuscon, the Sonoran Desert is as pretty as a picture. When you think ‘Arizona’ you undoubtedly think of the Sonoran, whether you realize it or not. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the majesty of it all on the ground, let alone from the cab of the plane as you prepare to jump! No matter how often you skydive, you’d be surprised at how much can be seen while gently sailing through the desert skies. As a Phoenix icon, skydiving in the Sonoran has something to offer everyone with its glorious views.
1. Camelback Mountain
Coated with Palo Verde trees, dotted with prickly-pear cacti, this Phoenix icon is normally a 20-minute drive north from downtown. Camelback Mountain is home to two challenging trail-heads: Echo Canyon and Cholla Trail. While a must-see for locals and tourists alike, these famous trails are not for inexperienced hikers. Home to desert tortoises, cottontails, and greenery such as desert Mesquite, the trails are also home to native rattlesnakes.
While you could spend your day hiking the rocky trails and scrambling over boulders for a view of the city, your view would be incomplete without the mountain itself to amplify the city’s elegance. Camelback’s distinctive hump-back ridge with Phoenix at its feet will undoubtedly catch your eye as an unbeatable backdrop to your maiden (or 100th) voyage.
You may not be close enough to see the enclaves of neighborhoods at the base of the mountain, but you will see Camelback in its full glory- surrounded by golden desert sands and endless blue sky. As a bonus sight that can only be truly appreciated in flight, Phoenix glitters against its mountainous backdrop. From this height, you’ll notice that the skyline is minimal on skyscrapers despite the bustling nature of the Phoenix streets. It makes for a striking silhouette that many people will not get the pleasure of experiencing in real-time.
2. Saguaro National Park
What’s the tallest cactus you’ve ever seen? Perhaps your Aunt Jan had a 5 footer in the terracotta pot in her living room. That’s nothing compared to the 40ft behemoth that is the Saguaro. The Sonoran Desert is the only natural home to these green giants, and Saguaro National Park is located to the south of our skydiving area. The park is popular for hiking, but the trails here are strictly maintained and the park does not welcome off-trail exploration. It’s a fine place for an easy afternoon with mom and dad. But it may be lacking for our more adventurous customers.
These strict rules protect the flora of the park but can make it difficult to get a feel for the truly mammoth-sized cacti. One way to enhance your experience is to see them as you and your instructor fly in tandem. When you see them from 5,000ft up, you’d think they were the potted variety like Aunt Jan’s. We recommend a visit to the park after your flight. When you see these natural skyscrapers in person, the sheer massive nature of the cacti is truly impressive.
3. The Domes of Casa Grande
If you’re a fan of Ghost Adventures, you may recognize these oddities from TV! These shockingly modern monoliths were once smooth and milky white but now appear ancient with their cracked and rust spotted exteriors. Tucked just off of highway 10, these enigmatic concrete structures are decorated inside and out with street art. But where did these almost alien domes come from? Believe it or not, the structures were originally built in 1983 by a manufacturer of circuit boards who planned to relocate to the area. The plans fell through but not before the completion of the domes. Since then, they have been home to wandering artists of all backgrounds looking to leave their mark.
The steel-boned structures allow you to view layer upon layer of colorful art from many street artists of all skill levels. Unfortunately, these man-made domes are now found on private property and often come with a hefty fee to legally view these concrete art galleries. Along with the extra cash, many of the domes are structurally weak and it’s impossible to get a good shot of rooftop art the decorates many of those the still-standing domes. From the air on a clear Arizona day, these domes become your private gallery in the sky! Once your chute deploys, look for the everchanging rainbow of paint and red-stained stone below for an unbeatable living art experience.
Is Skydiving in Phoenix worth it?
The Sonoran Desert offers many sights to be seen, too many for just one list. When your journey begins, do yourself a favor and keep your eyes on the surrounding bluffs and hills. Before you take the plunge, take a moment and breath in the warm smell of earth and sun from 12,000ft up. When you’re back on the ground, you’ll be surprised how new and refreshed it’ll look after seeing the way the Sonoran Desert stretches over the horizon.
If you miss any of these sights, don’t worry! You can always book as many jumps as you like with us for another day. We’ll always pick the clearest weather for your jump so you can have the clearest view of the Sonoran. Whether you’re a veteran master of the sky or a fledgling waiting to sprout their wings, we guarantee you’re going to love the view. Maybe you’ll spot something your tandem partner hasn’t even noticed!
Book your jump with Phoenix Skydive Center today by calling 520-840-9095 or contact us via email at PhoenixSkydiveCenter@gmail.com. Let us show you the beauty of the desert from 12,000ft up!