Camelback Mountain and Echo Canyon recreation area (the main access point and trailhead to reach the peak) in Phoenix, Arizona is about a 25 minute drive from Phoenix City Center. With this free attraction it’s very much a case of the early bird catches the worm. The worm in this case being a metaphor for a place to park. This is a super popular spot for hiking and mountain climbing and it draws large crowds on a daily basis. On weekends in particular if you are not there before 06:00 hours you are in for a lengthy wait just to find a spot to park.
A word of warning for folks with a cavalier attitude on car parking. All the roads that lead to the Echo Canyon recreation have a strict no parking policy and vehicles are promptly towed by local authorities if illegally parked.
I can’t think of a more apt name that so accurately describes this mountain top. Its red sandstone, sheer cliff faces and mountaintop that looks exactly as it’s aptly named, in particular with the shadow it casts, a camel hump. If you have ideas about hiking and climbing to the top but you are not an experienced hiker or climber, think again. It is a long ,arduous and strenuous climb to the top of Camelback Mountain. However, there are varying levels of intensity on a number of trails you can explore. You will require anywhere between 2-4 hours to complete the round hike depending on what kind of shape you are in. If you do make it to the top you will be rewarded with a breath taking panorama views of the surrounding landscape that make the tough trek worthwhile.
For the less experienced there are trails that hug the base of the mountain that will allow you to get close up without exerting too much effort. Bring lots of bottled water, a hat, proper hiking apparel and food for your trip as there is there are only basic toilet facilities at the trail heads.
If you are new in town and are not familiar with the area it’s worth going the extra mile by hiring a local and experienced hiking guide. This way you get the benefit of insight of local knowledge, it makes for an unparalleled hiking experience that’s worth every penny.
There is no visitor center on site. Unfortunately four legged family members are not permitted on the trails. While it’s unlikely you’ll encounter anyone that will enforce this, please respect this local rule as it’s in place to protect the trails. It also goes without saying that you should pick up your trash and leave the landscape in the same pristine condition you found it in.
The hiking trails to Camelback Mountain and parking at the trail heads at Echo Canyon recreation area are free of charge. If you decide to hire a local hiking guide they will charge a fee for their time and expertise.
Camelback Mountain and Echo Canyon is open year round from dawn until dusk.