Totally awesome hiking trails in Arizona that don’t require a pass or permit

Wave Cave silhouette

When it comes to spectacular hikes in Arizona, people often think of the world famous destinations of Havasupai, Grand Canyon, and Antelope Canyon. The problem with those destinations is they require permits or passes that can be expensive and hard to get.

Many of Arizona’s top hiking destinations require you to get a permit many months ahead of time

To hike in the Grand Canyon, a National Parks Pass is required. If you want to do a multi-day hike you’ll need luck on your side. The National Parks Service implemented a lottery system for permits which requires that you apply for a reservation 13 months in advance. If you “win” it will cost you big bucks for the experience.

It’s even harder to get a permit for Havasupai – the hiking experience famous for towering turquoise waterfalls on tribal lands in the western stretches of the Grand Canyon. That will set you back about $300 if you’re lucky enough to score a reservation on the one day they go up for sale – February 1 of each year.

Antelope Canyon, the mystical system of slot canyons shown below, requires advance reservations on a tour led by a Navajo guide. And it’s not cheap.

Narrow slot canyon with towering red rock walls rising up from the floor
Lower Antelope Slot Canyon after a rain storm.


Thankfully, there are still plenty of fantastic hikes around Arizona that are totally free and totally awesome.

Thankfully, there are still plenty of fantastic hikes around Arizona that are totally free and totally awesome. They require no pass or permit all. I reached out to some people in a hiking group I belong to and they helped me put together the list below.

These totally awesome hiking trails in Arizona don’t require a pass or permit

Phoenix & Central Arizona

Wave Cave silhouette
After the climb up the steep trail to Wave Cave, the cool shade inside the cave offers a reprieve from the hot Arizona sun.
Water trickles over rocks with petroglyphs on Hieroglyphic Trail
Water trickles over rocks with petroglyphs on Hieroglyphic Trail in Gold Canyon

North Central and Rim Country

waterfall pours over a rock ledge about ten feet high
This waterfall is one of many found along the Fossil Creek hike that makes it so awesome. No permit is required the months of October through April.

Northern Arizona

Southern Arizona

Elsewhere in Arizona

I’ve personally completed many of the hikes listed above and can attest most of them deliver world-class experiences. Pick one or more and check em out.

Hikes in places like the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon draw people from around the world to Arizona. They’re very nice but they can be expensive and very challenging to get permits for. Check out a few of the hikes listed above and you’ll quickly see that you don’t need a permit to take a world-class hike in Arizona.

Advertisements

3 Comments

  1. I clicked on the Red Mountain trail. That’s a different Red Mountain than the one I’ve hiked on and camped on many times. The one I’ve done is on the way to the Grand Canyon NW of Flagstaff and it is an old volcano.

    Great list.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.