Arizona running

Northern Arizona
  • Grand Canyon: If you're going to be in northern Arizona, chances are you've got a stop at the Grand Canyon on your itinerary. The South Rim and North Rim offer very different experiences, although both will take your breath away (in more ways than one -- the South Rim is at 7,000 feet elevation, and the North Rim is about 8,000).
    • South Rim: If you are visiting the South Rim and want to run, I highly recommend timing your run for the very early morning hours. Otherwise running the rim trail is like running through Times Square on a Saturday afternoon.
      View from the Grand Canyon South Rim
      As for running into (and back out of) the canyon... I have to admit that it's tempting to run (I have hiked it), but I'll leave that to your judgement. Just note that the switchbacks look like this and Backpacker lists it as one of America's 10 most dangerous hikes.
    • Switchbacks on the Bright Angel Trail (South Rim side).
    • North Rim: The North Rim is the pretty-but-quiet cousin of the South Rim. Most tourists don't make it to this side of the canyon. The views are not quite as sweeping, but the scenery is every bit as gorgeous. The North Rim also offers some opportunities for short trail runs that don't involve thousands of feet in elevation change.
    • Lodge at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
  • Flagstaff: Check in with the Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association for running routes and group runs in and around Flagstaff.
  • Sedona: Sedona has some of the most beautiful running (or hiking) scenery I've ever seen, and given the hundreds of trails, it is good to know that the NATRA also has a Sedona branch. The locals can give you the lowdown on trail distance, difficulty, and current conditions.
  • All of Sedona is this beautiful.
Central Arizona
In the greater Phoenix area, the Arizona Road Racers host weekly group runs and track workouts, as well as host a variety of running events during the year. I should also note that in June, July, and August, local runners get their miles in before dawn. I don't care who tells you "but it's a dry heat" -- 112 degrees is HOT.
The Sonoran desert is beautiful in an austere sort of way.
Just don't underestimate the heat...
  • Phoenix: My favorite place to run in Phoenix has always been the Murphy Bridle Trail (2.5 miles), which offers one of the few shady running routes in the greater Phoenix area.
  • Tempe: Running in Tempe centers around Tempe Town Lake, a man-made lake created by blocking the Salt River with the world's largest inflatable rubber dam. (I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere.) There are a variety of paved and unpaved trails to run around the lake and through surrounding parks. If you're interested in hill work, the run up and down "A" Mountain (Tempe Butte) near the Arizona State University campus will get your heart pumping.
  • Scottsdale: Located northeast of Scottsdale (closer to Fountain Hills) McDowell Mountain Regional Park offers a variety of trail running options, from short and flat, to longer, more technical trail runs.
Arizona is a unique place.
Note the bullet holes in the trail sign...
Southern Arizona
Other Arizona Running Resources:
Are you involved in an Arizona running group, or do you have a favorite running route that is not listed here? Send me the info and I'll consider adding it to the list.

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