In February 2021, I traded my snow boots and winter coats for tank tops and sunscreen. That’s right, moved to Scottsdale, Arizona! After living in the Colorado Rockies for so long, it was time to say goodbye to the snow and hello to the sweet blistering heat of the desert. Being more of a lizard at heart than a polar bear, it made sense to escape the cold and welcome the warmth. Turns out, living in Arizona has surpassed all my expectations.
So let’s say hello to the crazy world of Arizona’s sun-drenched wilderness! Strap on your hiking boots and unleash your inner artist as we embark on a wild journey. Life in the desert is anything but dull!
Brace yourself for a landscape that is as diverse as it is breathtaking. From the moment you set foot in this state, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a tapestry of natural beauty that knows no bounds. And it’s not just the scenery that’s larger than life. From roadrunners racing past you like they’re late for a desert party to rattlesnakes yelling at you to watch your steps on the trails, the desert critters are here to steal the show.
In this post, I’ll share with you what life in Arizona is like. You’re in for a whimsical and art-filled ride!
Embracing the desert canvas
Now, when I first moved to Scottsdale, I expected the landscape to be mostly dirt and dust. Oh, how wrong I was! The sheer variety of desert landscapes that Arizona has to offer slapped me in the face.
Standing amidst the saguaros cactus stretching towards the sky with their prickly arms, as if reaching for a high-five from the sun itself, I was in awe. These iconic cacti, often resembling peculiar characters straight out of a Dr. Seuss book, have become the unofficial mascots of the desert.
But the desert doesn’t stop at saguaros. Oh no! From the captivating red rock formations of Sedona and the dramatic cliffs of the Grand Canyon, to the pine forests of Payson and the otherworldly lakes of Prescott, Arizona has it all.
Living in Arizona is fantastic for people like me who enjoy the outdoors and love to explore. Plus, did you know the natural wonders of Arizona also extend to its lakes and rivers? From boating and fishing to paddleboarding, swimming, and cliff jumping, Arizona’s aquatic playgrounds offer a refreshing escape from the desert heat.
As I immersed myself in the vast and diverse canvas of Arizona’s desert, I opened my heart and mind to the wonders that surrounded me. The colors, textures, and shapes that define this sun-drenched wilderness ignited my creative spirit like never before.
However, it’s not just the breathtaking vistas that make the desert an artist’s paradise. The wildlife that adds an extra dose of magic and inspiration.
Discovering Arizona’s wildlife
Imagine coming face-to-face with a roadrunner zipping across the desert. Or watching the desert quails, strutting around as if they own the place. Seeing hawks soaring high above and cactus wrens nesting in a saguaro.
And let’s not shy away from the rattlesnakes, with their signature rattle, they may send a shiver down your spine. While encountering a rattlesnake can be a heart-pounding experience, it’s a good lesson about the importance of respecting personal space!
One of the most thrilling encounter with desert animals I can recall was this one: I’m wandering along a trail at dusk, enjoying the sunset colors and warm weather, when suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I spot a bobcat. For a moment, time stands still. I had never seen a bobcat before. For half a second that feel like eternity, I can’t believe my eyes. I’m trying to process what’s in front of me. A majestic big cat, tall, with spotted fur. Is it a leopard? It can’t be. A bobcat! So much taller that what I imagined they would be.
It’s in these unexpected encounters that the true magic of hiking in the desert reveals itself. Wildlife encounters serve as a reminder of the delicate balance of life in the desert and the need to respect the natural world around us.
Hiking Adventures in Arizona
My two passions in life are art and hiking. If I’m not working on an artwork, I’m usually climbing a mountain somewhere. And it turns out that Arizona is a hiker’s paradise, with an abundance of trails that cater to every skill level.
There are plenty of trails suited for beginners and expert hikers alike near the Scottsdale and Phoenix area. Places like Camelback Mountain in Phoenix or the McDowell Sonoran Preserve offer accessible trails that, despite being close to the city, still provide a taste of the desert’s beauty and a chance to spot some of the unique wildlife that calls this place home.
When the weather becomes too hot in the valley, I start heading up north, to Sedona, Prescott, or Payson. So many trails offer a mix of challenging climbs and jaw-dropping views, rewarding your efforts with unforgettable panoramas that will take your breath away (and not just from the physical exertion).
I must have done a thousand hikes already, and quite a few backpacking overnight trips. Camping in the middle of the Superstition mountains, away from it all, is a fantastic and unique experience. Just as much as pitching a tent on the Mogollon Rim, overlooking the forest and mountains below. So awe-inspiring that I started sharing photos and videos of my hiking adventures on my Instagram.
However, it’s important to be prepared while hiking in Arizona. The desert sun can be unforgiving. Water is life, quite literally. And you’ll never catch me without my hat, 50 SPF sunscreen, and sunglasses.
Living the Desert Lifestyle
For me, living in Arizona is more than just an occasional adventure—it’s a lifestyle that embraces the great outdoors and all the unique experiences that come with it.
In Arizona, sunshine is practically a way of life. With over 300 days of sun per year, rain is actually celebrated when it pours. The sun is a constant companion. Winters are mild and great for hiking. In the spring, the desert turns yellow with magnificent flowers. In the summer, it’s time to hit the lakes and the Salt river. And let’s not forget the daily stunning sunsets that paint the sky in shades of fiery orange and yellow in the most spectacular way possible.
But life in the Sonoran desert does come with challenges. In the summer, the temperature is so extreme it’s ridiculous. It will test your endurance and resilience.
In fact, a lot of people leave the valley during the summer months. For those of use that stay, it requires making adjustments to outdoor plans or opting for early morning or late evening adventures when temperatures are more bearable.
In my opinion, it’s a small price to pay to enjoy the beautiful spring and fall seasons, and mild winters.
As I’ve made my home in the Arizona desert, I’ve learned to appreciate the simplicity of life and find beauty in the smallest details. Life in the desert is a constant reminder of the beauty and resilience of nature. It has inspired me to capture the essence of this remarkable environment through my art.
And that’s how the Desert Life series was born.
Life in Arizona as an artist
Living in Arizona has been an absolute dream come true for someone like me who thrives on outdoor adventures and the thrill of exploration, with an artistic vibe. I’ve made Scottsdale my home base, a vibrant city that has cultivated a reputation as an artistic hub.
The city is home to an impressive collection of galleries showcasing a diverse range of artistic styles and mediums. From contemporary art to Native American and Western art, there’s something to captivate every artistic taste. Strolling through the streets of Old Town Scottsdale, I find yourself immersed in a world of creativity, with galleries showcasing stunning paintings, sculptures, glasswork, and more. The art scene in Scottsdale is not just limited to galleries, as the city hosts numerous art festivals and events throughout the year, celebrating local and international talent.
Here, I found balance between nature, well-being, and creativity.
Living in Arizona as an artist has been amazing.
So, let the sun be your guide, the wildlife your companions, and the vast expanse of the desert your playground. You’ll discover a way of life that will forever leave its mark on your heart and soul.