The outback of North America - Metro US

The outback of North America

You’d almost think you were somewhere in the middle of the Australian outback, but acres of sand, leaping lizards and miles of cacti are only as far as trendy Scottsdale, Arizona.

It was amazing to discover only a few minutes walk behind Scottsdale’s upscale Four Seasons hotel lies a whole other barren world. More than 200,000 tourists visit this wild area every year to scale the rocky desert mountain known as Pinnacle Peak. Believe me, this is no easy task, especially when’s it’s 30C in the shade.

On the way up I encountered wild desert jackrabbits, lizards galore and even spotted an elusive javelina pig, well known to the desert locals. After hiking straight uphill for more than an hour, I found myself out of breath and a bit embarrassed, when a group of seniors suddenly jogged by me without so much as a gasp.

The pinnacle hike is worth the effort, though, if only for the million dollar panoramic view of the desert. Feeling emboldened by my brush with nature, my next adventure was nothing short of a blast — literally.

Desert Wolf adventures offers truly the most spectacular back road tour I’ve ever been on. They actually trusted me to drive my own custom desert dune buggy called a Tomcar, through some of the bumpiest, roughest, downright gut churning terrain a city boy has ever experienced.

These remote desert roads — if you can call them that — are so full of giant potholes and giant boulders, it’s like an extended roller coaster ride.

Way out in the middle of the desert we visited an ancient Indian fort, high atop a bluff, with a view of hundreds of famous Saguaro cactus almost resembling an army below us.

These strange giant cacti are so rare and valuable, a full grown one can fetch thousands of dollars. But out here in the heart of the Senoran desert they stood proud and plentiful as far as the eye could see. This sight alone is worth the trip to Arizona’s outback.

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