10 Reasons to Go to the Desert in Spring

Go hiking in Phoenix, see live music at Coachella and cool off at a Las Vegas pool party.
 

Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, photo by Laura Segall Photography

To kick off music festival season 

Coachella unofficially marks the start of North America’s festival season. Listen to indie rock, pop and hip hop, and marvel at outrageous art installations and sculptures in Indio, Calif., at this annual event (April 14 to 16, and April 21 to 23). If you prefer country, folk and bluegrass, sister festival Stagecoach follows in Indio the next weekend. Lineup highlights include Cyndi Lauper, Kenny Chesney and Jerry Lee Lewis.

To stargaze 

With its clear night skies, high elevation and low light pollution, Mesa, Ariz. is one of the best stargazing spots in the United States. Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars can all be seen at this time of year. Telescope or binoculars in hand, view the sky on your own or join a full-moon interpretative hike at Usery Mountain Regional Park.

To eat well 

There’s more to Las Vegas dining than all-you-can-eat buffets. Attend the Vegas Uncork’d festival at Caesars Palace from April 27 to 30 for special events such as live cooking demonstrations and special tasting menus at restaurants operated by the city’s best celebrity chefs including Giada De Laurentiis, Buddy “Cake Boss Valastro and Guy Savoy. These famed chefs will also make appearances and host meet and greets during the meals.

To live large in Las Vegas

Just in time for the return of pool party season, several popular hotels and clubs have had an upgrade. Check into a renovated suite in the Julius Tower at Caesars Palace, or a one-of-kind penthouse at The Cosmopolitan, where guests have their own private gaming salon. Dance the night away with new resident performers such as Calvin Harris at OMNIA Nightclub or the Backstreet Boys at Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Resort & Casino.

To hike all day (and night) 

It’s cool enough in early spring, before the summer heat kicks in, that the desert can be explored during daytime. In Palm Springs, Murray Canyon Trail leads to a series of waterfalls and pools known as the Seven Sisters. A popular hike in Mesa is the Wind Cave Trail up Pass Mountain in Usery Mountain Regional Park. On a clear day its summit features a view of downtown Phoenix.

The High Roller in Las Vegas, photo by Erik Kabik

To enjoy desert flowers 

The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix features one of the most diverse collections of succulents in the world and is one of the only botanical gardens that focuses specifically on desert plants ranging from cacti to aloes. In April, seasonal wildflowers such as the fairy duster bush bloom with vibrant colours like scarlett and pink. Visitors can also explore the garden’s new butterfly pavilion.

To visit a dude ranch

Book a Wild West-style adventure at a dude ranch on Tucson’s Tanque Verde Ranch. Located in the Saguaro National Park and the Coronado National Forest, this attraction offers outdoor adventure, including all-day horseback rides with experienced wranglers and a cowboy cookout. These rugged activities are paired with luxury services such as breakfast in bed, organic facials and relaxing massages.

To practise yoga

Perform your sun salutations in a new yoga class. Climb aboard The High Roller, the world’s tallest observation wheel, and enjoy a view of the Las Vegas Strip while holding a strong warrior pose. (Book classes 24 hours in advance.) Eclectic yoga sessions at Arizona’s Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa include restorative yoga to live soft-guitar music, TRX yoga and Zennis, a combination of yoga and tennis.

To relax at a Sedona spa

Re-energize with a getaway to one of Sedona’s many inviting spas. The area is said to harbour “energy vortexes,” purported to have healing properties. Plus, warm spring temperatures allow you to enjoy the spas’ outdoor pools and gardens. Try New Day Spa, which incorporates restorative southwestern botanicals such as prickly pear and wild chaparral into its treatments.

To view amazing art

There are many ways to experience the bourgeoning contemporary art scene in Phoenix. Start by checking out the new FOUND:RE Phoenix hotel, which features paintings and sculptures by local artists throughout its lobby and guest rooms. Don’t miss the seasonal Samurai armour exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum, which brings feudal Japan’s warrior heritage to life through artifacts such as swords, spears and ceremonial battle gear. 

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