Around Arizona Desert Plants and Wildlife Outdoor recreation Things to Do

Where to See the Salt River Wild Horses

If you’re wondering where you can go to see wild horses near the Salt River in Arizona, here’s everything you need to know before you go. The short scenic drive from Fountain Hills or Scottsdale alone is worth the visit as you are surrounded by the Sonoran Desert. You’ll see parts of the Goldfield Mountains, Stewart Mountain, and Red Mountain on your way to see the Salt River wild horses. And, after this winter’s dramatic storms, the wildflower season will be stunning!

where to see salt water horses

Best Places to See The Salt River Wild Horses

The Salt River is fantastic because there are various locations where you can observe the horse up close without having to travel very far into the desert. You may park, stroll down to the river, and try your luck sighting the horses at one of the several recreation areas that are located right beside the river. Here are some suggestions on where to go and view the horses.

These are the 7 recreation sites where you can see the wild horses:

  1. Granite Reef
  2. Phon D Sutton
  3. Coon Bluff
  4. Blue Point
  5. Pebble Beach
  6. Saguaro Lake
  7. Butcher Jones

These 7 recreation sites are all within 13 miles of each other, only taking 20 minutes to get from the first (Granite Reef) to the last (Butcher Jones).

Once you do spot the horses along the Salt River, you’ll typically see a group together. As you continue to stay, more horses tend to come out and join them.

Spend some time just observing them, if possible. It’s fascinating to watch them play, roll in the water, run around, eat plants along the shoreline, and communicate with one another.

Other Ways To Experience The Wild Horses

If you’re a little more adventuresome, you can also see by kayaking the Salt River. Saguaro Lake Ranch, which as you can probably guess, is on the Saguaro Lake Recreation Site and offers kayak rentals (including a shuttle ride back to your car).

Kayaking on the salt river

Another popular way is to tube the Salt River. This is available with Salt River Tubing from April or May (depending on weather) through September. If you go tubing, you’ll want to go earlier in the morning to give yourself the best chances. Mid-day weekend tours with lots of people have lesser chances of seeing the horses but you’ll still have a great time tubing!

When to Go

The Tonto National Forest offers the horses a sizable amount of space to explore. To give you the best opportunity to see them in their native environment, they do, however, occasionally come down toward the water.

The best time to see the horses is within 2 to 3 hours of either sunrise or sunset when the horses are most active. They typically come down to the water to drink, eat and play in the water around that time.

Passes & Prices

The Salt River is within the Tonto National Forest which has its own fees. So in order to visit, you will need a recreation pass.

There are several types of recreational passes you can use:

  • Tonto Daily Pass
  • Tonto Discovery Pass
  • America the Beautiful Pass

Tonto Discovery Passes and some America the Beautiful Passes are sold via the phone and shipped directly to you. You can also order online here.

A Tonto Daily Pass costs $8 at retailers and $12 on-site. If you purchase on-site (credit card only), the cost is $12 and a receipt will print that expires in 24 hours.

When you purchase at a retailer, you will receive a hangtag where you can scratch off the day and time of your visit.

You can purchase the Tonto National Forest daily pass online here.

Desert Plants and Wildlife Inside Your Home

Elevated Escapes: Home Design Trends

Elevated Escapes: Home Design Trends for 2023

Take your vacation with you. Many people now have wanderlust after only taking a few short trips over the previous two years. Yet clever designers have chosen to create an escape within the home rather than actually leaving the house to satisfy this craving. Many have accepted the idea that leaving the house is not necessary to have that breezy, rejuvenating experience since they still want to enjoy the comforts of home.

Homes will include rooms that are both indoor and outdoor and that are converted in the manner of beachy resort destinations. Romantic European villas use warm wood tones, brilliant light, and breezy linen drapes and furnishings.

Join the present and the natural world. People are moving toward practical sensibilities in lifestyle and usefulness. They become more aware of the need to be more tranquil and in the moment. Maintaining stability and harmony is still essential, but with a focus on the senses. This translates into using rare materials and natural textiles in home décor, such as terra-cotta, rough clay, hand-finished finishings, and glazed tiles made of organic materials. Natural elements serve as the inspiration for color schemes, and the desert motif has grown in popularity by incorporating soft hues like beiges and greys. These design elements highlight the beauty of the Southwest landscapes.

Olive Tree Home Design

The style also transfers to pleasant, tactile interior layouts that combine organic forms, arches, and irregular shapes to produce a warm, inviting appearance. The trend of environmental design will persist. In order to add an outstanding fixture and give the room a Mediterranean or rustic feel, consider bringing a full-sized tree to the kitchen. Olive trees are a popular home design trend choice in 2023.

About Fountain Hills Desert Plants and Wildlife Health Things to Do

Fitness Goals 2023 -Local Biking Trails

Leaving the stresses of daily life and pedaling away without a care in the world. Whether it’s on your local biking trails or high in desert mountains miles from civilization. There’s little that can beat the beautiful simplicity of a bike ride. Whether you’re a cycling newbie or an experienced rider, cycling offers many different mental and physical health benefits. Outdoor activities in nature are proven to lower your blood pressure so ditch the Pelton and hit the local biking trails this year.  

local biking trails near me

Mountain biking is one of the top activities of choice at nearby McDowell Mountain Regional Park. With over 40 miles of trails ranging from easy to strenuous, there is something to suit all riding abilities. There is even a Technical Loop for expert riders to sharpen their skills. The McDowell Sonoran Conservancy offers several free guided rides each month from beginner to advanced and women-only rides.

Adero Canyon Trailhead in Fountain Hills via Andrew/Kinsey Trail junction will take you up and over the McDowells. Approximately 9 miles and a 2,287 elevation gain with some rocky sections will lead you back to Lost Dog Wash on the Scottsdale side. The Adero trailhead also connects to the north to McDowell Mt. Regional Park via the Sonoran Trails a slightly easier ride with panoramic views of the 4 Peaks, Dixie Mine, and weavers needle in the distance.

Paved paths more your speed

For those who prefer paved pathways, the Valley of the Sun offers options, such as the nearby Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt in Scottsdale and the Rio Salado Pathway in Mesa.

The Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt (and its extensions both north and south) is an oasis of parks, lakes, paths, and golf courses that runs through the heart of Scottsdale. It is rated among the top urban “green spaces” in Arizona. Riders can park near Jade Palace across from the hospital on Shea and ride to Tempe Town Lake.

Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt

The Rio Salado Pathway connects to several other bike paths that can take riders as far as Chandler Heights, Phoenix, and Scottsdale. The Pathway follows Riverview Park near the Loop 101 and Loop 202 interchange. Riders can get started from the Sloan Park parking lot and head west until the trail ends near the airport or veer onto other connecting paths for a longer ride.

If you’re looking to ease back into biking this year or need a little help getting up all the hills here in town. Try renting an electric-assist mountain bike from McDowell Mountain Cycles for the Day and you may just find your next passion.



Desert Plants and Wildlife Holidays Yard and Garden

How to Decorate Cactus with Lights

In the Southwest climates, cacti and succulents often replace ornamental shrubs and trees as landscaping. The philosophy of playing up what you already have rather than trying to hide it, home decorators have been decking cacti with holiday lights for years. 

Holiday Light on Cactus

So, how do you string lights on a succulent or cactus? Very carefully, for starters. Wear a pair of suede or leather gloves that can’t be penetrated by the needle-like spines of a cactus, which can even poke through the strongest types of gloves. Then follow these tips.

Illuminating Desert Plants for the Holidays

It’s a bit more time-consuming and a specialized task to adorn cacti, succulents, yucca, and unusually-shaped desert plants with string lights. Here are a few tips and tricks:

Barrel Cactus lights
  • Invest in a good pair of gloves, that won’t allow spines and needles to penetrate. Also, wear long sleeves.
  • For taller cacti or hard-to-reach branches consider getting a reaching, grabbing, or pick-up tool. Some even come equipped with a light. Doing so, carefully, allows you to wrap a cactus or limb without having to touch it.
  • Barrel cacti look best wrapped with one color of string lights, like red or white, so they sound out.
  • Net lights draped over a cactus are much more manageable than wrapping with string lights, although they have a different effect and don’t outline the shape as much. Most are LEDs, and some are solar, although they need several hours of sunlight to work.
  • Use a light hand while decorating–don’t stretch the light strand or wrap it tightly around a cactus.
  • Some of the more delicate specimens might benefit from the more traditional incandescent lights, which can create enough warmth (not heat) to keep the cactus or succulent from freezing.
  • Laser flood or spotlights are an easy way to light up a desert garden without damaging plants. Each year, they go down in price and the technology is improved.

Around Arizona Community Engagement Desert Plants and Wildlife Health Local Events

The 2022 Fountain Hills Hiking Challenge

The cooler weather makes November the perfect time of year to go hiking around Fountain Hills. This Fall you can take your adventurers to the next level by participating in the Fountain Hills Hiking Challenge!

Fountain Hills, AZ Hiking Challenge

This year’s hiking challenge includes two levels, an easier (shorter) and a challenging longer with more elevation series of the best hiking trails in Fountain Hills, totaling over 34 miles. New this year are the guided hikes with the Steward of the Sonoran Conservancy of Fountain Hills. Sign up and enjoy the company of fellow hikers while exploring the longer tails at Fountain Hills Park and Rec.

The challenge, which is proudly sponsored by the Sonoran Lifestyle Team at RE/MAX Sun Properties, begins on November 1st, and lasts for the entire month. SPECIAL BONUS! Stop into the RE/MAX Sun Properties (Sonoran Lifestyle team office) for a printed map of all local trails. We’ll have a goodie bag with handy gifts selected especially for hikers. Stop by anytime in November, Mon-Fri, 10a-5pm. Our address is 16824 E. Avenue of the Fountains, Suite 12, in Fountain Hills.

The registration Fee is $15 for the Hiking Challenge. All registered participants will receive a commemorative Fountain Hills Hiking Challenge T-shirt. Complete the long or short-challenge hikes. Registration Here Share your pictures on social media to be entered to win a $50 gift card to Just Roughin’ It. Share your hiking pictures by tagging @fhparksandrec on Facebook.

Adero Canyon, Sunrise Peak, AZ

The Short Challenge


The Garden offers an easy hike on 8 acres of the native Sonoran Desert.  The trail has informative signs.  The Garden is also an eBird site.  It is located on Fountain Hills Boulevard about 1.5 miles south of Palisades


Said to be one of the best views in Fountain Hills, this easy hike rises 300 feet above Fountain Park offering panoramic views of the mountains surrounding the town.  Marked access is just east of Saguaro on Panorama Drive or further east on Panorama near the parking lot.  When you reach La Montana Blvd, follow the signs a short distance to continue the trail.


From the Adero Canyon Trailhead parking lot, go through the gate.  The sign posted Overlook Trail begins on your right.  You might want to have a hiking pole for this hike as you will hike up to a very scenic overlook.  At the top, there is a diorama that shows the mountains and other points of interest.   On the way back to the trailhead, you can detour on the Easy Trail to extend your hike by about .2 miles.


From the Adero Canyon Trailhead parking lot, go through the gate.  The sign posted Western Bike Trail will be found on your left.  This trail winds up to the Andrews Kinsey Trail.   You will have views of Adero Canyon the entire way.  Once you reach the Andrews Kinsey Trail turn left and follow it to the sign for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  Return the same way.


From the Adero Canyon Trailhead parking lot, the Promenade Trail begins after the gate.  It follows an old jeep road for .8 miles with scenic views the entire way. The first uphill is the only difficult part of this hike.   Once you reach the signposted Sonoran Trails return to the trailhead.  If you wish to go further, hike the Lower Sonoran Trail a short distance to the sign-posted Scenic Overlook.  Return the same way you came.

Long Challenge


From the Adero Canyon Trailhead, go through the gate and follow the Promenade Trail (an old jeep road) to its end to the Sonoran Trails. The Sonoran Trail and Lower Sonoran Trail form a loop.  You can shorten the loop by taking one of two marked crossover trails.  Do not pass the entrance sign for the McDowell Mountain Regional Park you have gone too far and missed the turn!


From the Golden Eagle Trailhead at the end of Golden Eagle Blvd, follow the marked sidewalk and signs to the entrance to McDowell Mountain Regional Park ($2.00 fee required).  Follow the Dixie Mine Trail to a road. Turn right and go down a short hill.  At the bottom of the hill, turn left on an unmarked trail that will take you a short way to the Dixie Mine.  Return the way you came.


From the Adero Canyon Trailhead, go through the gate and take the signposted Western Bike Trail on your left. When the trail meets the Andrews Kinsey Trail, turn left and follow a short distance to the Western Loop Trail.  The WesternLoop Trail climbs steeply to a scenic view.   The trail continues and descends steeply to the Promenade Trail.  Return to the trailhead on the Promenade.


From the Adero Canyon Trailhead, go through the gate and take the signposted Western Bike Trail on your left. When the trail meets the Andrews Kinsey Trail, turn left.   The trail climbs as it winds through the Adero Canyon to the Sunrise Trail with the hitching post.  Return the way you came.  For an extra challenge take the Sunrise Trail to the top of Sunrise Peak.


From the Adero Canyon Trailhead, go through the gate. The signposted Overlook/Ridgeline trail begins on your right.  This trail follows a ridge overlooking Adero Canyon.   The Lower Ridgeline provides an optional 1-mile loop starting at mile marker R2 and ending at mile marker R4.   Near the eastern end of the Lower Ridgeline, there is a 0.2-mile spur leading to an overlook.


This hike can be done as either a round trip 10-mile hike or shortened to a one-way 5-mile hike if another car is left at the Adero Canyon Trailhead. From the Golden Eagle Trailhead at the end of Golden Eagle Blvd., follow the marked sidewalk and signs to the entrance to McDowell Mountain Regional Park ($2.00 fee required).  Follow the Dixie Mine Trail to the Sonoran Trail.  When you enter the McDowell Mountain Preserve, you can follow either the Sonoran Trail or Lower Sonoran Trail to the Promenade Trail. Follow the Promenade Trail to the Adero Canyon Trailhead where you can take a break before returning the same way or phone for a ride home!!

Desert Plants and Wildlife Outdoor recreation Things to Do

Desert Belle Cruises: The perfect Fall adventure!

Fall is the perfect time to visit the upper canyon of Saguaro Lake, one of the series of lakes of Arizona’s Salt River.  Located only 20 minutes from Fountain Hills, the mountains and vistas include stunning views of Four Peaks and many of the Superstition Mountain vistas. 

Originally launched in 1964, the Desert Belle has been cruising the waters of Saguaro Lake for over fifty years. 

Choose from the upper viewing deck or downstairs in air-conditioned comfort and you won’t be disappointed! There’s always a combination of exotic Arizona wildlife, towering canyon walls and dramatic desert vistas.

This is the perfect spot for both Arizona residents and out-of-town guests. The Desert Belle is a unique way to enjoy all the beauty that Arizona has to offer.  The Belle offers bar service with food and an impressive line of beverages. 

Choose from a variety of cruises! The popular 80-minute Narration Cruise suits all family members. Cruises suited to a bit older crowd of 13-years and older include the Music Cruise, Wine and Music Cruise or Craft Beer & Music Cruise. 

Be sure to reserve early….they book up fast!  Check them out at

Desert Plants and Wildlife Home Management Yard and Garden

Xeriscape For The Win!

Ocotillos are great for xeriscape, developing leaves after significant rains.

Just because you live in the desert doesn’t mean you have to settle for a barren, rocky yard. A thoughtfully planned xeriscape can bring layers of visual beauty to your landscape.

Xeriscape is a landscape design method that reduces or eliminates the need for watering, which conserves our drinkable water. Plants that thrive primarily on what water the natural climate provides come in so many varieties and uses that you will not be limited on choices.

It’s important to choose plants and trees that are appropriate for your climate. Native plants are a logically great choice. There are two locations in Fountain Hills where you can get ideas for your xeriscape:

The Low Water Demonstration Garden at Fountain Park is a project of the Greening of Downtown committee. It was designed to show residents examples of desert landscape plants that are nearly maintenance-free.

The Fountain Hills Desert Botanical Garden, founded in 1975 by Jane Haynes, is an 8-acre wildlife preserve and garden right along Fountain Hills Boulevard. In 2006, the Town restored the original garden trail as an educational and hiking destination. Twenty-nine Sonoran Desert plants are identified along the half-mile trail, giving visitors an idea of the kind of native plants they can use in their own xeriscape landscaping.

Here are some landscaping trees and plants to get you started:


The leatherleaf tree is a great option for a dense, low-water tree.

The most common desert trees you’ll find are mesquite, palo verde (our state tree), acacia, olive, and palm. There are also beautiful flowering trees to consider, such as the Texas mountain laurel with purple flowers, silk floss with pink flowers, and anacacho orchid with white or pink flowers. If you want to enjoy the beauty of fall leaves each year, the Chinese pistache’s leaves will turn orange and drop in the cooler weather.


The Arizona Rosewood is a great native bush that can grow large and survive on little water after being established.

Most of our shrubs produce thick blossoms at various times of the year, adding a gorgeous splash of color to your landscape. These include Baja fairy duster, honeysuckle varieties, bush dalea, Chihuahuan or Texas sage, green feathery senna, hop bush, bird of paradise varieties, oleanders (which can be bushes, hedges, or trees), and violet silverleaf.

Don’t forget to add a creosote bush. They are at the heart of that extraordinary smell when it rains in the desert. The tiny beads of oil on their leaves release a glorious scent when they encounter water.


Cat Claw vines are known for growing large and quickly, finding water wherever they can.

To add some fun texture to your xeriscape, add a vine or two. Consider bougainvillea, cat claw, pink trumpet, primrose jasmine, yellow orchid, etc. Each of these has unique flowers at various times of the year for a pop of color.


This Purple (Santa Rita) Prickly Pear needs very little water and blooms a beautiful yellow during the late spring and summer before developing edible fruits.

There are so many varieties to choose from, but the Argentine giant, prickly pear varieties, barrel cactus varieties, Mexican fencepost, and totem pole are great cacti to get you started with your design.


Madagascar Palms are great succulents that prefer very little water. They need shade when young but eventually can grow to the size pictured and beyond.

Succulents contribute something of an ornamental effect to your yard. Some of the favorites are yucca varieties, aloe varieties, lechuguilla verde, mescal ceniza, and agave varieties.


Red Verbenas typically last until the hottest parts of the summer.

One of the things most people love about the desert annuals is the way they soften the features of an otherwise prickly landscape. Instead of chasing “poppy blooms” for your Instagram feed, you can grow them in your own yard. Throw some beautiful lupine in for good measure. These are short-lived, so they can be scattered across your yard for a short-season burst of color. Verbena is a popular annual with a variety of blossom colors available. The plant remains once the flowers are gone for the season.

Whatever you choose for your xeriscape plan, remember to plant trees no closer than 10 feet from your home to protect your foundation. Also, keep in mind that plants continue to grow and can get overcrowded if planted too close together when young.

A little maintenance will be in order from time to time, but your xeriscape will save you time and money in the end.

About Fountain Hills Around Arizona Community Engagement Culture Desert Plants and Wildlife Local Businesses Local Events Outdoor recreation Real Estate Schools The Verdes Things to Do Yard and Garden

Summer 2022’s Desert Vibe Magazine Is Here!

The second quarterly issue of Desert Vibe magazine is finally here, and it’s full of must-see information about local events, listings, and market information!

Here are some of the things you’ll see in the summer Vibe:

This Desert Vibe, as with the previous, is being released in an online-only format, with interactive links to everything you’ll need! To read the full Desert Vibe magazine, go to

Around Arizona Culture Desert Plants and Wildlife Things to Do

3 Arizona Destinations to Beat the Summer Heat

It’s summer in the Valley, and it’s hot. If you have time for a day trip, or even an extended stay, up in a place with cooler weather, why wouldn’t you? Luckily, there are forests and high elevations in almost all directions, where the weather is significantly cooler and wetter and the views are second to none. The best part: you can drive to all these places in a few hours.

Big Lake

Located near the town of Greer and the Sunrise Ski Resort, Big Lake is just one of the dozens of natural lakes on the Mogollon Rim. The elevation in the Big Lake area sits around 9,000 feet, and the average high temperature in the nearest towns is a beautiful 75.6 degrees in July.

The fishing is great here, and the views of meadows, forests, and often perennially snowcapped mountains are stunning. There are lots of places to park an RV or go camping, and there are cabins available for rent in Greer all year round.


Flagstaff is the biggest city in northern Arizona, known for being the gateway to the Grand Canyon, home of Northern Arizona University, and the Sno Bowl Ski Resort. Arguably the best features of Flagstaff are its beautiful ecosystem and cool temperatures, all while being only a 2.5-hour drive from the Phoenix area. The average high temperature in July is 82 degrees.

There are countless resorts, hotels, and B&B’s in and around Flagstaff waiting to take in flatlanders trying to escape the heat. In the downtown area, there are several great food options and bars.

The nature in Flagstaff and the surrounding area is absolutely amazing, with stands of ponderosa pines mixed with aspen trees, occasionally separated by meadows.

Mount Lemmon

Mount Lemmon is one of the most prominent “Sky Islands” in southern Arizona, and the weather does not disappoint. Situated just north of the city of Tucson, a drive from Fountain Hills to the resort on top takes about 3.5 hours.

While Mount Lemmon is best known for its ski resort that runs throughout the winter and spring, the surrounding village is full of cabins to rent, trails to hike, an observatory to tour, and a few cute restaurants to enjoy.

The drive up the mountain and what you’ll see from the top are some of the best views you can find in the state. With an average July temperature of 76.5 degrees and an elevation of 9,171 feet, Mount Lemmon is a place you’ll want to see – and feel.

Desert Plants and Wildlife Home Management

Plant Care During Monsoon Season

Monsoon Season is one of the most interesting times of year for an Arizonan. Hot days are interrupted with brilliant thunderstorms that can either bring impressive rains or intense winds. Our plants are even more excited for these summer rains than we are.

Native plants are accustomed to these weather patterns and are often drought-deciduous. This means they intentionally lose their leaves during dry spells and regrow with gusteau after heavy rains. Non-native plants used in landscaping often have a more difficult time making it through the summer.

Without the instinct to be drought-deciduous, it’s up to the plant’s caretaker to help carry non-native vegetation through its first few summers in the ground.

Can You Plant During The Summer?

Ocotillos are native and are drought-deciduous. This ocotillo is beginning to sprout leaves after a few days of rain.

The best times to plant your landscaping for the year are in the fall and the spring, but sometimes people need to get their planting done during less opportune times. Whether it’s a good idea to plant something during the summer depends on the species.

If it’s a native plant like a palo verde or a barrel cactus, etc., you can probably expect the plant to survive. However, if you’re planting something that requires lots of water or isn’t accustomed to the erratic weather of the Arizona summers, the transition from a cozy nursery to a bright sunny yard may put the plant into shock and cause damage or death.

If you’re planting a non-native plant during the summer, your best course of action is to ease it into its new lifestyle. Give it a few deep soaks with a hose during the first month it’s in the ground. Consider putting a 50% shade cloth on top of its youngest foliage if possible.

Should You Fertilize During the Summer?

Most of the time, it’s best to hold off from using chemical fertilizers between June 15th and September 1st. Chemicals can hurt vulnerable roots on plants during the hottest parts of the summer. There are some options for giving plants a boost, though.

Fully organic liquid fertilizers, such as those from FoxFarm, are usually still okay to use, no matter what time of year. Be sure to use liquid and not solid, as liquid fertilizer gets into the plant’s system faster and prevents any potential root burn.

You can also give plants minerals any time of year. Powders like Azomite and liquids like Superthrive are full of vitamins that plants will use to fortify their immune systems during difficult times.

How Much Should You Water Plants During the Summer?

Potato vines are good at handling the heat but need lots of water during the summer.

Every plant has its own wants and needs, but generally, the answer to this question is “more than during the winter.”

If you notice that your plants look droopy every day at about 4:00PM, that’s because the late afternoons are the hottest times of the day. It’s okay if a plant droops a couple times, but if it becomes a regular occurrence, leaves can begin to die pretty quickly. At this point, it may be worthwhile to change your watering schedule to include a little boost at 4:00PM.

If there’s just been a huge rainstorm, feel free to turn your irrigation off completely for a day or two. Even during the summer, overwatering can still happen. If lower leaves on a plant begin to turn yellow, sag, and fall off, it’s probably being overwatered.

Again, there are a lot of nuances depending on the species of plant. For more specific care stats, consult your local nursery. These are just some general pointers that are much more likely to help than to hurt.