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.
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
- Cholla & Summit Trails (Camelback Mountain)
- Peralta Trailhead (Superstition Mountains)
- Hieroglyphics (Gold Canyon)
- Wave Cave (Superstition Mountains)
- Piestewa Peak (Summit Trail)
- Lost Ranch Trail (South Mountain)
- Hidden Valley (South Mountain)
- Garden Valley (Superstitions)
North Central and Rim Country
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.