If you asked ten random people to name a mountain in Arizona, most of them would likely say Camelback Mountain. And why not? It’s the first landmark people see when they fly into nearby Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Same if you drive into the Phoenix/Tempe/Scottsdale area on any major highway.
Why is it called Camelback?
What else would you call a mountain located in the middle of the desert with a mountainous rock hump (or two) flanking another one that resembles a camel’s head?
A favorite among hikers, fitness buffs and photographers
Because of its convenient location and fantastic views of the Valley of the Sun, Camelback Mountain is a popular go-to spot for locals and visitors to see and be seen.
On weekends, the parking areas are completely full from sunup to sundown, with people waiting to park pretty much the entire day. And the trails are just as busy, with traffic jams occurring often on narrow sections. Some Camelback frequent fliers have learned it’s best to Uber to the trailhead from nearby schools, businesses or other public spots.
Although Camelback is not as high as other mountains in Arizona or neighboring states, it poses a unique challenge because of the extreme heat and intense sunlight. Each year, dozens of unprepared hikers are rescued from Camelback due to heat exhaustion and other health issues. Proper footwear, clothing, hat and plenty of water are crucial if you’re going to attempt hiking Camelback.
Camelback quick stats:
- Peak elevation: 2,707 feet (825 m); roughly 1,420 feet (432 m) elevation gain from either of two trailheads
- Cholla Trail length: 1.5 miles (2.4 km)
- Echo Canyon Trail length: 1.2 miles (1.9 km)
- Open year-round from dawn to dusk
- No admission fee
Locals’ tips for visiting Camelback:
- Early morning is the best time to go, especially in the summer months
- Bring plenty of water (2 to 3 liters) and turn around when your water is half gone
- Cholla Trail is longer but not as steep as Echo Canyon Trail
- Pets are not allowed on the trails at Camelback
Want to check out Camelback? Tap the map(s):