Being in Northern Arizona means you have an all-access pass to some of the greatest outdoor activities and locations in the country. And not only are outdoor hobbies great fun, they are healthy.
A study in Japan tested cortisol levels (a stress hormone) after participants went for walks in the forest. The study found cortisol levels had decreased, along with blood pressure.
So while there are many different ways we can manage stress levels and keep healthy, you can also just put on comfortable shoes, get outside and have fun.
These activities can range from low-impact gardening to adventures such as rock climbing and skydiving. Let’s look at a few you can do with little effort and immense gains.
After all that working from home, get outside and experience nature. A University of Michigan study found that short-term memory was increased by 20% by just walking in nature.
Some favorite trails in Flagstaff include a beautiful stroll in Buffalo Park, a strenuous hike on Humphries Peak, which is a trail for experienced hikers, and Walnut Canyon with five different trails. In Sedona, try Cathedral Rock with unbelievable views at the top.
Imitating golf in some ways, this sport uses different sized and weighted discs rather than clubs and a ball. Northern Arizona’s unique landscape of trees, rocks and mountains lends to creative opportunities for beginners and experts.
Check out Flagstaff’s McPherson and Thorpe parks for disc golf courses, as well as Fort Tuthill Golf Course. In Sedona, Canyon Mesa Country Club has a disc golf course of its own. Try discgolfscene.com for more sites throughout the state.
Located just 4 miles from downtown Prescott, Goldwater Lake offers tons of fun for a small 15-acre lake. With picnic facilities and hiking trails, it makes for a relaxing day of kayaking. Check the hours online to be sure.
Lynx Lake, larger at 55 acres, sits amid tall pines in the Bradshaw Mountains high country just southeast of Prescott. Only boats with single engines of 10 horsepower or fewer, along with kayaks and canoes, are allowed. The Lynx Lake Store even features a café for the after-kayak snack.
Want to combine hiking with something else? Why not birding? Arizona’s species list of around 550 is the highest of any state without an ocean coastline.
The Watson Woods Riparian Preserve, full of cottonwoods and willow trees, offer shade and homes for water birds and migrant shorebirds. Located just north of Prescott, the riparian preserve and adjacent Watson Lake offer more than 250 varieties of birds. This is also a good area to hike and enjoy nature in its own right.
For another walking/birding spot, check out the Kachina Wetlands, just 10 minutes south of Flagstaff. The wetlands consist of eight evaporative ponds constructed with over 125 species of birds recorded here.
Mormon Lake is a National Important Bird Area designated by the American Bird Conservancy and is also the largest natural body of water in Arizona. The lake is a broad, shallow lake formed as the limestone dissolved over the millennia.
The weather right now is on point for getting outside and improving your health and well-being. With an unlimited number of outdoor hobbies and activities available in the area, there is something for everyone out there.