One of my absolute favorite things about Phoenix is that there are so many amazing places super close to the city. Depending on where you stay in the valley, you can be a mere 35 minutes from some of these locations. Whether you use Phoenix as your home base and venture out further afield to other places in the state, or if you want to stick close to Phoenix as your hub, it’s great at fulfilling both roles.
The Salt River is a tributary of the Gila River and source to many recreational sights a mere 45 minutes (or less!) from Phoenix. It’s a *very* popular spot in the summer months and hundreds of folks will float down the river in inner tubes, beer in hand, and get very, very sunburned. It is also home to countless picnic areas, trails, and a herd of wild horses. It’s one of my favorite places to elope in near Phoenix because the winding path of water cutting through the desert is so surprising and beautiful- like an oasis running through our cactus filled desert. There are also *tons* of options. Some well known, some off the beaten path. And all 45 minutes from Phoenix.
The Salt River strike your fancy? Here’s an adventure session to take a look at!
Saguaro Lake is actually a reservoir on the Salt River, but it’s such a popular place (and really feels more like a lake than part of the river) that it deserves its own section on this post. Saguaro Lake is a large lake, with its own Marina and beach. It’s *extremely* popular on weekends (in April-October, the lake reaches its maximum boating capacity early in the morning), so bear that in mind if this is a location you’re interested in.
There’s a popular trail that winds around the shore which can lead to some more secluded and private spaces (and some pretty cool views) that are about a mile or so away from the trailhead. You don’t need a permit (but Butcher Jones Recreation Site does require a Tonto Parking Pass ($8.00).
Want to see more of Saguaro Lake? Check out this Saguaro Lake Elopement.
Another spot only 45 minutes away! This spot is perfect if you’re looking for a quintessential desert vibe; saguaros, cholla, prickly pear, jacked desert mountains. Home to Lost Dutchman State park, the Superstitions are big on adventure vibes but are super, super accessible. There are tons of trails, ranging from easy to difficult (such as a local favorite, Siphon Draw Trail) and its a beautiful spot at sunrise, with the sun coming up from behind the Flat Irons, or at sunset which lights the mountains orange. You do need a permit to shoot here (up to $300 for a day), which is helpful information to keep in mind.
Here’s a desert adventure session if you want to see more of The Superstitions!
There are also lots of places that are a bit further afield (2 hours and under from Phoenix) and/or off the beaten path. I love scouting for the perfect place for a couple that are a bit lesser known. Sometimes that requires traveling a bit further outside of Phoenix, but the results are often worth it. You can check out a few favorites here and here.
Phoenix has a ton of options when it comes of rad places to stay for you elopement. We’ve got luxurious hotels, funky airbnb’s, and nearby campgrounds. Some of this could depend on where you ultimately pick for your elopement, but here are a few of my favorite hotels and airbnb’s in the area.
The Valley Ho– a Mid-Century modern in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale.
Mountain Shadows– a luxury Hotel tucked against Phoenix’s famed Camelback Mountain.
The Scott– My hands down favorite hotel in the area. Luxurious with adorable styling (and a truly great restaurant), it’s centrally located and close to everything.
I love tiny houses so I had to include one (super funky) one here.
A gorgeous historical bungalow (some of my favorite style homes in the valley are like this. Probably because they remind me of Chicago.)
Funky dome house with views of the valley.
This pink and black modern guesthouse.
This mid-century home that can fit the whole family.
Four hours: $2000 | Eight Hours: $4000 | One 8-hr day + 4 hr day: $6500
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