What to Know Before Visiting Phoenix: Weather Advisories, Packing Tips

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Phoenix is ​​a huge desert city with a variety of indoor and outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. As a local, I know there’s something to do here every month of the year, whether that’s soaking in desert views on a hike, golfing, or dining on Southwestern comfort fare. That said, there are some things to keep in mind during your visit. Here are some common mistakes I see visitors make:

Underestimating the city’s desert nature while hiking

Arizona desert

The Sonoran desert can get extremely hot in the summer months.


Underestimating nature is perhaps the biggest mistake Phoenix visitors make, in my opinion. Phoenix is ​​located in the Sonoran Desert, so it can get extremely hot.

I’ve personally witnessed people not being prepared for our outdoor weather, especially on hiking trails. Some of the more common mistakes I see on hiking trails are people wearing street shoes instead of hiking shoes or hiking-appropriate sneakers and sandals, not packing enough water, and hiking big stretches in the summer.

Many of our plants are prickly, and there are critters like scorpions, rattlesnakes, and spiders, although they’re often hidden.

I recommend avoiding trails in the midday summer heat. Many trails close when it’s too hot, and there are usually signs that warn against hiking over a certain temperature. I advise to hike with a friend, and bring more than enough water. A water backpack is ideal — I like to aim for one liter of water per hour you’ll be out.

I always wear sunscreen and reapply it throughout the day. Over the years here, I’ve also found that I save physical energy, feel cooler, and protect my skin better by covering up more when it’s hot outside. A light-colored, lightweight long-sleeve shirt is my go-to for a summer hike to stay cool and protect my skin from the sun.

Not drinking enough water

I’ve been with visitors and even locals who experience mild to severe dehydration by not getting enough water here. Phoenix is ​​very dry, so I typically commit to drinking two liters a day, and more if I’m outside or being active.

If you’re visiting, I recommend upping your regular water intake to help your body adjust to the dry climate.

Avoiding a visit during the summer months


Summer is low-season in Phoenix, which means hotels and activities are often less expensive.

Gregory E Clifford/Shutterstock

June through September are the hottest months of the year in Phoenix, with temperature highs hovering in the low 100s and hardly dropping below the 90s, even overnight.

But while activities like hiking and outdoor sports are off limits during this season, I still think it’s a great time of year for a more leisurely and budget-friendly stay in Phoenix.

The summer months are Phoenix’s low travel season, and that’s when I’ve seen the steepest discounts at hotels in town, including the high-end resorts. During this time of year, I recommend making a home base at one of the many resort pools across town, and taking a day-trip north to Sedona, Flagstaff, or the Grand Canyon, where temperatures are more temperate in the 70s and 80s.

Thinking it’s hot all over the state all year long

Phoenix winters can get colder than many tourists realize, with average highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s.

I once had friends visit me in Phoenix in January who only packed shorts and T-shirts for their entire stay. This included a visit up to Flagstaff, which is at a higher altitude than Phoenix and gets snow in the winter. That was a major mistake on their part, and soon they were picking out a new vacation wardrobe to accommodate the chilly temperatures.

I recommend bringing a warm jacket, and a heavier winter coat that can handle snow if you’re planning to drive north to areas like Grand Canyon. When I took my mom to the Canyon a few years ago, there were blizzard-like conditions, and we were grateful we had on appropriate outerwear.

View Insider’s comprehensive guide to visiting Phoenix, Arizona.

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