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Tonto National Forest

Tonto National Forest: Our most recommended tours and activities

Box Canyon and Pinal Mountains Half-Day ATV Tour

1. Box Canyon and Pinal Mountains Half-Day ATV Tour

Explore the extreme northeast corner of Florence, Arizona on board a thrilling All Terrain Vehicle (ATV). Located halfway between Tucson and Phoenix, the Box Canyon and Pinal Mountains make for an ideal day out from both cities. The dirt trail that will set you blood racing is about 40 miles long, and you will have 3.25 hours to play. Once your guide has equipped you with all necessary safety equipment, you received a short training, and you are comfortable with your 4-wheel bike, head off along dirt trails that twist and turn and bump up and down the Pinal Mountains. Climb up and over the front range of the mountains while your guide points out Indian petroglyphs left behind by the ancient Native Americans. Another point of interest is an old adobe building that served as a way station for the Butterfield Overland Stage Coach Company during the 1860s. For a short time it also serviced the Pony Express on what was know as the "Butterfield Route." The real highlight of the tour is Box Canyon. You'll be in the canyon for about 6 miles. Get set for the drama of the middle 3 miles, a slot canyon with walls only about 10-20 feet apart and 900 feet high on both sides!

Phoenix and Mesa: Kayaking Trip to Granite Reef

2. Phoenix and Mesa: Kayaking Trip to Granite Reef

What better way to beat the Arizona heat than in the cool waters of the Lower Salt River? Kayak out into the beautiful wilderness of the Tonto National Forest. Keep your eyes peeled for native, desert wildlife. On the Granite Reef float, you'll witness the confluence of the Salt and Verde Rivers and the majestic Red Mountain. The sit-on-top kayaks are very stable and easy to maneuver; after a 15-minute orientation, even beginners will feel safe and comfortable in the water. This self-guided float is the most convenient way to kayak the Lower Salt River. Park your car at Saguaro Lake Ranch — no Tonto Pass required — and launch from a private kayak beach. Enjoy the 4.5-hour float. At the end of the route, staff will be waiting to gather the kayaks as you board an air-conditioned van and return to the ranch.

Sonoran Desert: Guided 2-Hour UTV Adventure

3. Sonoran Desert: Guided 2-Hour UTV Adventure

Hop in, buckle up, turn the switch, and hit the trail in the toughest vehicle the Sonoran Desert has ever seen. The 4-seat UTV can be filled to capacity and can still climb trails, crawl boulders, and zip all over the desert without breaking a sweat. Whether you're craving adventure or simply want to enjoy some sightseeing at your own pace, this UTV is dialed in to deliver. With electric power steering, a thrilling V-Twin engine, and towing capacity to take everything with you, this exhilarating drive handles like a dream. 

Scottsdale: Tonto National Forest Off-Road H1 Hummer Tour

4. Scottsdale: Tonto National Forest Off-Road H1 Hummer Tour

Explore one of Arizona’s most picturesque trails on an off-road H1 Hummer excursion. The trail winds through the heart of the Tonto National Forest and Arizona’s most beautiful mountain ranges: the 4 Peaks and the Superstition Mountains. Enjoy beautiful views of Saguaro Lake and learn about the flora and fauna of this majestic landscape. Experience the thrill as the Hummer conquers the rugged desert terrain. If you crave excitement you’ll be sure to feel the rush of adrenalin as the H1 climbs 60-degree slopes, traverses 40-degree side slopes, and fords up to 2.5 feet of water. Even with all the thrills, this is a family friendly excursion that is suitable for all ages.

Phoenix & Scottsdale: Saguaro Lake Stand Up Paddleboard Tour

5. Phoenix & Scottsdale: Saguaro Lake Stand Up Paddleboard Tour

Experience the Sonoran Desert from a thrilling new perspective on a stand up paddleboard. Paddle through the gorgeous Saguaro Lake or Lower Salt River, taking in valuable insight into the ecosystem that is sustained by these indispensable desert oases. Maybe you’ll even catch a glimpse of a bald eagle or a bighorn sheep, which are among the many distinctive species found within this one-of-a-kind environment. Stand up paddleboarding is a perfect activity for the whole family, and your professional guide will spend some time at the start of the tour teaching the proper techniques. Geared up with a provided life jacket, snacks, and bottled water, appreciate the mountain peaks that surround you as you drift along, flanked by giant saguaro cactuses and desert foliage unique to this region. And be sure to splash around and have some fun while you’re at it.

Other Sightseeing Options in Tonto National Forest

Want to discover all there is to do in Tonto National Forest? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Tonto National Forest

Overall rating

4.9 / 5

based on 42 reviews

Such a fun & thrilling experience! This was a gift to my sister for her birthday and she loved it. Ray was our guide, he’s fantastic. We had a blast hanging out with him for 3 hours. He made sure we were safe, but having fun and he even brought water and treats for us. Ray stopped and showed us a couple historical landmarks, which was a nice surprise. Make sure you give him and extra big tip if he’s your guide. The best part was going thru the narrow canyon walls and the beautiful views. 10/10 recommend. I will definitely do this again.

Super fun experience! Six of us went so each couple had our own UTV. Devo our guide was awesome. He would explain what’s ahead on each of the trails and gave us the opportunity to switch drivers and switch up the order of the UTVs so we all took turns eating each other’s dust. LOL. He also took lots of pictures for us. The dessert and 4 Peaks Mountain were absolutely spectacular. Highly recommend and well worth the money.

Brian was our driver/guide. He was on-time, very friendly and knowledgeable and was great with the grandkids. We had a great time ! He taught us a lot of things about desert. We would highly recommend

Our driver/guide was phenomenal. Super respectful, and knowledgeable about the desert. Cactus Jack is the best out there!!!

Our Guide Bill was awesome!!! Very knowledgeable and helpful.