Desert often implies an empty space devoid of life and gravity. Dispel that fraudulent, misconceived delusion with today’s Groupon: $30 gets you a guided raft or kayak tour down the Lower Salt River with Desert Voyagers. Experience the stunning beauty of the Sonoran Desert—the breathtaking mountains and breath-withdrawing land teeming with breath-enhancing wildlife—while enjoying a mild workout and the refreshing splash of river.
The Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree National Park, Olympic National Park, Yosemite National Park?these are some of the US's most beautiful destinations. But they're more than just pretty landscapes. Each is a giant playground that groups can explore for days on end thanks to Just Roughin' It Adventure Company. At sunrise, those who entrust their time to Just Roughin' It's guides might wake up to find themselves in the heart of a canyon, surrounded by the old-growth giants of a dense forest, or overlooking a stately mountain chain covered in white caps.
Because that's what Just Roughin' It trades in: adventure. For every sabbatical from the everyday, the wilderness guides handle all the logistics, booking trips and assembling bags of food and answers to troll riddles. They don't cut corners, either. When groups arrive for their multi-day treks, each adventurer straps on roughly $1,000 worth of backpacking and adventure gear, from trekking poles to sleeping bags.
Adventures don't always require multiple days in a canyon, though. Just Roughin' It's team also leads SUP tours on Arizona lakes and day hikes deep into the Grand Canyon's red rocks. Or, they can simply rent customers gear, such as inflatable kayaks, and let them chart their own course.
Cimarron River Company wafts exhilarated kayakers down the stunning Verde River, through the sun-soaked, dazzling desert vistas of the Tonto National Forest. Adventurous paddlers rendezvous with their guide near Scottsdale, where they’ll receive their kayaks, life jackets, and beverages for the trip. Cimarron's sit-on-top kayaks allow fledgling floaters to navigate the pristine pools of the magnificent river, far from the debauched inner-tubers and meddling maritime lawyers of more populous waterways. The scenery's splendor is marked by crimson desert canyons, picturesque swaths of greenery, and a variety of wildlife frolicking in the shaped shadows of breathtaking saguaro cacti.
Red Rock Company tests athletic mettle with barn-burning feats of speed ranging from cycle races to triathlon competitions. Multiple divisions for many races encourage all genders and species to participate. Cyclists might go spoke-to-spoke through the Coconino and Kaibab National Forests during the Landis Cyclery Barn Burner 104 ($115 individual registration) or hit the pavement with the Four Peaks Brewing Urban Dirt Triathlon ($85 entry). Customers can also opt to compete in both the 1-mile swim and 5K run with the Top Banana registration ($50 registration, $70 day-of) or try a 2-mile standup paddleboard or paddle race ($35 registration, $45 day-of). The company also puts on Surftech RSP3 events, which include paddleboarding, running, and swimming races.
Nestled on the Pleasant Harbor Marina, Go Kayak Arizona sends paddlers pushing out into the still, 10,000-acre expanse of Lake Pleasant atop easy-to-maneuver kayaks. After setting up each visitor with an appropriate watercraft, paddle, and life vest, the friendly staffers send explorers off to explore the hill-lined aqua-scape or drag race rival canoes by the hour or day.
Nestled amidst the trees of the Tonto National Forest, Bartlett Lake's tranquil atmosphere creates the perfect escape for a day on the water. Guests can camp on the shoreline, spy deer, eagles, and coyotes while hiking through the forest, or rent a boat to explore the lake. The marina rents ski boats, kayaks, and pontoon boats with up to a 12-person capacity. Visitors can acquire fishing supplies and bait, or just take along a cooler and an iPod for a relaxing float.