Take a Hike: Experiencing God’s Presence in Arizona’s Deserts


A bench at the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park. Photo courtesy of Melissa Shulski.

Claire Sabol and Hannah Shulski

The sun is shining down on you. The breeze kicks in as you walk on the rocky trail. As you walk, you find you have gotten out of view of the loud noises of traffic, which are now replaced with the chirping birds and the wind rustling in the bushes. You finally make it to the top of the mountain and suddenly become aware of the scene below you. You don’t have to leave the state, let alone the city, to experience this. In our busy day-to-day lives, we often get caught up in our own routines and do not take time to remind ourselves of God’s presence. An easy way to get ourselves spiritually oriented, all while getting a good work out, is by seeking out some of Arizona’s natural spots.


One such example is the Sonoran Preserve, located in North Phoenix. It offers thirty-six miles of trails surrounded by Arizona’s wildlife. The wildlife definitely contributes to the serenity of the desert. The Sonoran Preserve is located in North Phoenix. The trails are open from 5 am to 11 pm, allowing hikers to get a refreshing walk before their day starts or welcome a nice close to a busy day. The trails are surrounded by wildlife that adds to the sacredness and natural atmosphere. One can see how gorgeous the Arizona desert is when they reach the top of the mountain, looking down on the plethora of cacti and up at the hot air balloons painting the sky.


Many other trails in the Arizona desert offer the ability to experience God’s creation. If you are down for a road trip, you may want to head out to the White Tank Mountains, which are located near Surprise and Buckeye. These mountains offer breathtaking views of the West Valley and are the home to many beautiful desert plants. There are many different trails that you can hike, which range from low to high difficulty. If you are a beginner at hiking or simply want to go on an easy walk, there are certainly options for you.


Last, but certainly not least, is the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park trail in Yarnell, Arizona. This trail is dedicated to the Granite Mountain Hotshots, the group of firefighters who died while protecting the people of Yarnell and Prescott from the dangerous Yarnell Hill Fire of 2013. Along the seven-mile trail are plaques commemorating each of the nineteen Hotshots for their bravery, which hikers can read and place items for the deceased firefighters. The trail provides stunning views of the farmland of Yarnell and Prescott to the distance. At the end of the hike, there is a touching tribute wall that designates the area where the Hotshots died; a very poignant spiritual experience for hikers. The Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park trail is a moving reminder of the firefighters that defend the people and wildlife of Arizona.


Many people say that they experience God in the beautiful wilderness He created. Hopefully, you can say the same if you ever hike along on these lovely Arizona trails.


The beautiful hills and blue sky at the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park. Photo courtesy of Melissa Shulski.