Triple Shot: Outdoor adventures

 by Kristi Eaton
 published on Thursday, April 7, 2005

Brandon Quester / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
Horseback riding in Arizona is a fun and easy way to see the desert. Many trails throughout the state are friendly to hikers and horseback riders.

Ah, April.

It's a glorious month in the Valley, and with summer looming around the corner, there's no time like the present to partake in some outdoor activities.

Whatever you do, don't wait until June or July, when just thinking about going outside can induce a sweating fit.

So check out some new ideas to delight your love of nature and keep this spring interesting. Besides, getting outdoors is a good break between working on those final papers and studying for exams.

Pedal Boating with Rio Lago Cruise
Tempe Town Lake
(480) 517-4050
Price: $12 per hour or $8 for half an hour
Best for: Spending a relaxing yet active afternoon on the lake

Pedaling along Tempe Town Lake might not be for everyone, but for those who love the outdoors, it's a perfect way to get in some exercise while spending time with friends. Each boat can fit up to two adults and a child weighing less than 40 pounds.

Pedal boating is a good group activity, and it also works well for a date. But make sure you'll be able to engage in conversation -- being out on the lake for 30 minutes to an hour can be a long time for awkward silences.

For those who thrive on speed, this might not be the activity for you. It can be hard to hold back the inner speed demon while paddling furiously and moving at a snail's pace. Instead, it's better to just casually pedal while enjoying the surrounding sights and sounds.

Life vests are provided for each rider. Groups of five or more boats can be reserved for birthday parties, events, picnics in the park or other group activities.

Hot Air Ballooning with A Great American Balloon Company
702 W. Deer Valley Road, Phoenix
(877) 933-6359
Price: $150 per passenger
Best for: Those who are unafraid of heights and have some extra cash

With six locations across the nation, A Great American Balloon Company has flown tens of thousands of passengers in its 28 years of business.

Dress should be casual and comfortable, but the company recommends avoiding shorts and sandals. Instead, opt for jeans, tennis shoes and T-shirts.

Unfortunately, hot air ballooning is at the mercy of the weather, so there is no guarantee that planned flights don't get canceled. Also, keep in mind that the wind is at its calmest in the morning and evening because the sun is low in the sky. That's why balloons fly right after sunrise or right before sunset.

Individuals who are pregnant, have had recent surgery, or have neck, back or hip problems should call ahead and speak with a member of the staff about risks.

Expect the ride to take three hours and bring plenty of film for the wonderful aerial shots.

By the way, if you're short on cash, talk up this idea to the folks and they might just spring for it. It's worth a shot.

Horseback Riding with Cave Creek Outfitters
31313 N. 144th Street, Scottsdale
(480) 471-4635
Price: Ranges from $60 for a two-hour guided ride without transportation to $160 for a daylong, guided tour with transportation
Best for: Animal lovers or those with an inner cowboy itchin' to get out

Ever watch "Urban Cowboy" or "The Horse Whisperer" and long for the chance to hop on a stallion, hold on for dear life and ride like the wind?

Cave Creek Outfitters may just be what you're looking for.

Owned and operated by Todd Masden and Cheryl Ward since its opening in June 1993, Cave Creek currently has 28 saddle horses and 11 baby horses at its Scottsdale location.

There are three different lengths of rides, including the two-hour, half-day and full day. The half-day ride is approximately four hours and the full-day ride is six or more hours. The half-day and full-day rides must have a minimum of two riders.

As riders amble through the Sonoran Desert, guides tell the history and mystery of the area and stories of the gold mines. Be sure to bring the camera for plenty of beautiful shots.

Reservations are required. Long pants and closed-toed shoes are required. Boots, sunscreen, long sleeves and hats are recommended.

For those who want the full cowboy experience, the option of a cookout is available. The Western Cookout Area can feed up to 60 people. Chicken and steak is served, as well as all the fixin's.

Reach the reporter at kristi.eaton@asu.edu.


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