Arizona Outback Adventures specializes in guided adventures throughout the southwest including hiking, biking and kayaking.
We did two private guided half-day tours with Arizona Outback Adventures (AOA) and found the outfit to be well organized from every angle. They picked us up on time from our hotel, had snacks and water in the truck (very important with kids) and their guides were qualified and patiently answered all the questions my son asked.
Kayaking on the Lower Salt River
AOA uses inflatable kayaks and this is more of a float than a true kayaking trip. If you want a relaxing day this is it, if you want more action I would not recommend this trip. The scenery is so stunning with several mountain peaks in view and the lush, green river banks feel out of place in the desert. We saw water birds and fish along the way and if you're very lucky you will see the wild mustangs come for a drink. Tip: if the mustangs are a priority take a quieter week day trip when they tend to show up more often.
Half-Day Hike on Trail 100 in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve
My 10-year-old would say that he liked our kayaking trip better because of the scenery but I heard him repeat the information he learned on our hike about the desert over and over again throughout our 5 days in Phoenix. We learned about different types of cacti and interesting facts about pack rats and what desert plants do to survive. You can easily hike this on your own but it was our guide's knowledge of the desert that made this an exceptional tour. Steve, our guide, showed us things like how the Teddy Bear choalla "jumps" off onto animals and people and how animals make their homes in the Saguaro cactus. I would not recommend this tour with toddlers. Even my 10-year-old son couldn't stop himself from trying to touch the cactus needles and had to find out for himself that the Teddy Bear choalla's needles hurt when you touch them. With older kids, this is a wonderful introduction to the desert.