Arizona has a lot of mountains, some that are high in the forest and others that tower over the low deserts. The views on top of many of these mountains are so good, you’ll have to see them all.
Here are five mountains in Arizona that have particularly standout views:
Kitt Peak is one of the sky islands of southern Arizona, located in the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation. While its peak is only at 6,883 feet, the views from the summit are stunning.
On a clear day, you can see for hundreds of miles in any direction, and at sunset, you can look down as the sun sinks below the horizon to the west. The Kitt Peak National Observatory sits at the top but is currently temporarily closed due to damages from the Contreras Wildfire in June of 2022.
Mount Lemmon is another sky island, located just north of the city of Tucson. It sits at over 9,000 feet in elevation and is known for the Mount Lemmon Ski Resort.
From the summit of this beautiful mountain, you’ll have views overlooking almost every ecosystem in Arizona, from the high forests of the sky islands to the chaparral transition zones to the Sonoran and Chihuahua Deserts.
Piestewa Peak is the twin sister to Camelback Mountain, right in the middle of the Valley, and it does not disappoint. This peak requires a hike through a beautiful desert preserve to reach, so be sure to bring sunscreen and a lot of water.
At 2,610 feet, you’ll still be in the Sonoran Desert ecosystem at the summit, and you’ll have a fantastic view of the entire Phoenix area in all directions. One of the mountains you’ll be able to see from here is the next entry on this list.
Thompson Peak is “the antenna mountain” of the McDowell Mountain range that towers over Fountain Hills and east Scottsdale. This peak also requires a hike, and at the top, you’ll be able to see the entire Phoenix metro area to the south and west, vast swaths of Tonto National Forest and McDowell Mountain Regional Park to the north and east.
While the trail to Piestewa Peak is only open from sunrise to sunset, a big standout feature of Thomspon Peak is that it is a popular destination for night hiking. Start your hike at sunset (with lots of water and flashlights) and in 2 or 3 hours you’ll be overlooking the brilliant glimmering city lights in one direction, and the quiet darkness of the forest in the other.
Mount Ord is a tall peak in the Tonto National Forest that typically marks the halfway point between Fountain Hills and Payson during a trip to the Mogollon Rim. You’ll have to drive a dirt road to get close to the top, before hiking the final half mile to the summit. The road is well maintained, but if there’s been rain or snow, you should avoid taking a city car up the very curvy path.
At the top is another radio tower, and some amazing views to the south. From Mount Ord, you can see all of Roosevelt Lake, the Reno Pass, Bartlett Lake, Fountain Hills, and much of the Phoenix area. If you have a Tonto Pass and decide to camp near the top, you’ll be able to see both city lights and shooting stars from the same peak, thanks to its altitude and distance from Phoenix.