Discover Outdoor Adventure in Marana, Arizona

Kimberly Schmitz, Spur Public Relations

Pedal it, hoof it, fly it, swim it, or just relax and take it in. Marana’s uniquely southern Arizona adventure awaits!

Whether outdoor adventuring is a hobby or a way of life Marana offers myriad opportunities for visitors to find fun and adventure in its expansive, beautiful, wild and urban preserved spaces. Our scenery, surroundings, and many easily accessible amenities sound an irresistible call to come out and play. Our amazing weather allows guests and locals to answer that call nearly every day of the year!

Pedals to the Pavement

Arizona and Pima County, specifically, has long been lauded as one of the most bike friendly areas in the country. Marana serves as the perfect starting line for road cyclists preferring to get to know the area by the power of the pedals and two wheels. Hundreds of miles of our urban and rural roads are designed with amply accommodating bicycle lanes, many providing room for two to ride abreast. A variety of terrain options, from flat, to hilly, to lower-gear burning climbs, are available to suit any level of rider or desired cycling experience. For riders less interested in going with the flow of traffic, there are several Marana locations from which riders may access The Loop, a 100+ mile, paved, multi-use path, that winds around and through Pima County.

Michael Swart, avid cyclist and owner of HMS Bikes regularly leads group rides for all levels throughout the region. Two of his favorite routes begin at his shop in Marana with turnaround points at the base of the Tortolita Mountains.

Ritz Carlton Out and Back

From HMS Bikes at 8225 N. Courtney Page Way, Ste 145:

Arizona Pavillions Drive to N. Cortaro Road

Right on Cortaro Road, nouthbound to Silverbell Road

Right on Silverbell Road, northbound to Twin Peaks Road

Right on Twin Peaks Road, following it east and northbound

At Tangerine Road, Twin Peaks turns into North Dove Mountain Boulevard

Follow North Dove Mountain Boulevard, take the round-about to the right to the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain.

Stop for a bite at Caytons at Dove Mountain and return via the same route in reverse.

Tunnel Out and Back

From HMS Bikes at 8225 N. Courtney Page Way, Ste 145:

Arizona Pavillions Drive to North Cortaro Road

Right on Cortaro Road, northbound to Silverbell Road

Right on Silverbell Road, northbound to Twin Peaks Road

Right on Twin Peaks Road, following it east and northbound

At Tangerine Road, Twin Peaks turns into North Dove Mountain Boulevard

Turn right on Moore Road, eastbound

Turn left on North Thornydale Road

Ride through the tunnel to Saguaro Ranch South gates.

Follow same route in reverse to return.

The Loop

Access The Loop and more than 100 miles of paved, multi-use path closed to motorized traffic and enjoy a safe, quiet ride among other cyclists, walkers, runners, Eliptigo-ers and roller bladers, through natural landscapes or along wild desert washes (river beds). Several Marana access points will allow riders to explore to the northernmost (Catalina State Park), southernmost (Rita Ranch), and easternmost (Saguaro National Park East) areas of the county! The Loop path is accessible from the following locations to name a few:

Santa Cruz River Park

Wade McLean Park

Cortaro Road (West of I-10)

Ted Walker Park

Silverbell Road and Sunset Road (intersection)

El Camino del Cerro between Silverbell and I-10

Sweetwater Wetlands

Two Feet, Two Wheels, Miles of Trails

For those who don’t believe the adventure begins until the pavement ends, Marana has the perfect playground in the Tortolita Mountains. Don’t let the fact that the Tortolitas are the smallest of the area’s five mountain ranges fool you. While some trails through these “Guardians to the North” offer a refreshing and restful explorative experience, the rugged upper trails can offer up to 1000 feet of elevation gain and are sure to challenge even the most seasoned hikers and mountain bikers at times.

Choose to hike or ride on any of our 300+ days of sunshine and you will be treated to stunning mountain vistas, towering saguaro cacti, and hundreds of the Sonoran Desert’s winged and four legged residents. To this day, there is still a herd of wild horses that runs freely in this area. It’s not uncommon that human visitors are treated with spotting these majestic creatures, or at the very least, encountering evidence of their recent presence.

Tortolita Preserve, accessible from Moore Road off of Dove Mountain Boulevard, is a 10 mile single track loop of sand, some hardpack, and rocks with a couple of mildly technical sections. It is a perfect out and back or full loop for beginning mountain bikers or hikers interested in a more relaxing experience. The trail, peppered with signs naming the native flora, weaves through an ironwood forest, and is at its most beautiful during Spring wildflower season.

In contrast, the Wild Burro Trail is a more technical trail with steep climbs and challenging sections. Intermediate riders will successfully ride most of this trail with some hiking along the way. More accomplished hikers and riders will appreciate the mental and physical workout the trail demands.

Whether following the Wild Burro Trail to the western face of the mountains or veering off to wind through sub-trails like the Upper Javalina, Cochie Springs, or Alamo Trails, outdoor adventure seekers are sure to get their fill in the wild and beautiful Tortolita Mountains. While it is best to hike and bike in the early morning or dusk during the summer, no matter the season, hikers and bikers are strongly advised to always carry plenty of water and protection from the sun!

Guests at the luxurious Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain, at the base of the Tortolita Mountains, may join hikes led by expert guides from the resort’s back door through this rugged and wondrous trail system. Guests may enjoy low-impact and highly informational nature hikes around the property or more rigorous, two- to four-hour jaunts through the Tortolita trails like the Alamo Springs Trail. Schedules are available upon request.

Horsing Around and Ranch Adventure

What better way to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the Sonoran Desert than traversing it via the original 4×4 vehicle–a horse! Just a short jaunt south of Marana-proper visitors looking to revive their inner cowboy or cowgirl spirit can mount a trusty steed and hit the trails at the Cocoraque (ko-ko-rocky) Ranch. A secluded and sprawling 16,000 acre vestige of the past, the Cocoraque Ranch embodies everything that made the Old West a time and place of wistful remembrance.

A working cattle ranch that was once a site of a US Calvary encampment, The Cocoraque offers one-hour to all-day trail rides with experienced wranglers and healthy, sound horses. Trails meander through lush Sonoran Desert wilderness with some leading to a historic ranch house and ancient petroglyphs. The ranch accommodates small group visits or larger groups for weddings, corporate parties, or events. Ranch-style team building, fun family activities, delicious ranch-chic meals, and even real rodeos can be arranged upon request.

Why Walk When You Can Fly?

Sometimes keeping your feet firmly on the ground is overrated. Take to the Marana skies for a breathtaking aerial tour of the area with Fleur de Tucson Balloon Tours. Weather permitting, late September to early May, visitors can ride the wind to catch a bird’s-eye view of Marana, neighboring communities, and the surrounding desert wild lands and mountains.

Fleur de Tucson is Marana-family owned and operated. With over 30 years of flight experience and a 100% accident-free record, Fleur de Tucson Balloon Tours hosts a maximum of four to five guests per balloon on flights that begin in Marana and glide over the Tucson Mountains and Saguaro National Park West. No two flights are alike, combining views from 500 feet to 2500 feet above ground.

After floating from Marana to neighboring Avra Valley to the south, guests are treated to a delicious continental brunch and premium champagne (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), a spoken history of hot air ballooning, digital pictures of the ride (taken from the chase vehicle), and a flight certificate.

Urban Fun & Games

Marana’s adventures aren’t all found in the wilderness. Here there are many opportunities to enjoy a full day of wild, unabashed fun or a relaxing day in the sun within safe, controlled environs.

Water Play

In Marana we like it hot because this means water parks and splash pads are open to keep us cool!

Breaker’s Water Park on the east edge of town is a great getaway for the whole family to share some wet and wild fun! Scream down the 52 foot high Riptide slide, meander through one of the five Bonzai Pipelines, body surf in the giant wave pool, splash and play in the Captain Kids Surfari area, or just lounge and picnic on the ‘beach’ at this, Marana’s water adventure oasis. Enjoy cooling off, taking a rest or grabbing a bite under the park’s 20-foot shade umbrellas or 15-foot cabanas available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Shaded ramadas are available for rent, based on availability. Guests may bring their own shade umbrellas that meet the park’s safety standards.

Breakers has a wide variety of foods available for purchase within the park. Two snack bars offer pizza, hamburgers, French fries and hotdogs, nachos, soft pretzels, and more. No outside food is allowed in the park except sealed plastic water bottles and infant necessities.

For a bit of a lower keyed experience, families can cool off in a fun and colorful splash pad at Marana Heritage Park. Perfect for kids of every age (including the young-at-heart), the pads offer a squirty, splashy, water dumping fun way to cool off and expend some energy! The Marana Heritage Park splash pad is open late-spring to early fall, dawn to dusk and is free of charge.

Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain Resort guests may enjoy cooling off at one of the resorts three gorgeous pools with ancient petroglyphs and stunning mountain vistas as backdrops. The adults-only pool at the spa is available with a spa treatment or cabana rental. At the two all-ages pools, young and young at heart guests will love the 240+ foot waterslide, splash pad, open swim area and lounges.

Paintball and Air Soft

Airsoft and paintball are combat simulation sports in which players participate in mock combat with military-style weapons and tactics. Airsoft guns use 6mm round BBs made of hard plastic while paintball guns use capsules of water-soluble paint that usually explode on impact. Family owned Disruptive Paintball and Airsoft has provided safe, controlled, and fun, mock-warfare experiences for all ages for more than ten years at its Marana field. Individuals, small and large groups can all be accommodated for public and private gaming.

Paintballing/Airsofting is a phenomenal team-building or family bonding adventure. It is a fun, active exercise in developing strategy, communication skills, leadership, rapid reaction, and time/resource management. Players may bring their own weapons and safety gear or rent from Disruptive Paintball and Airsoft onsite.

Urban Parks

The Town of Marana’s very carefully planned and executed growth has included a generous sprinkling of urban parks designed to offer residents and visitors dedicated space to participate in a variety of recreational activities. Below is a listing of some of the most popular of our urban parks and their amenities:

Continental Ranch Community Park 8900 North Coachline Blvd.; Park hours: 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Four little league fields, two soccer/multi-use fields, two basketball courts, two lighted tennis courts, skate park, playground area, horseshoe pit, four covered armadas (three with grills) and restrooms

Gladden Farms Community Park 12205 North Tangerine Farms Rd.; Park hours: 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Two little league fields, soccer/multi-use field, ramada with grill, picnic area (uncovered) and playground area

Continental Reserve Community Park 8568 North Continental Reserve Loop; Park hours: 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Two little league fields, two soccer/multi-use fields, tennis/pickleball court, basketball court, playground area, two ramadas with grills and restrooms

Crossroads At Silverbell District Park 7548 North Silverbell Road; Park hours: 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Three lighted ball fields, two lighted soccer/multi-use fields, five ramadas with grills, group ramada with grill, two lighted tennis courts, two lighted basketball courts, two lighted volleyball courts, lighted dog park, two lighted, covered playground areas, horseshoe pit and access to Santa Cruz Shared Use Path and The Loop

Marana Heritage Park 12375 North Heritage Park Drive; Park hours: 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Pole barn with grill, access to Juan Bautista De Anza National Historic Trail, access to Santa Cruz Shared Use Path and The Loop, wedding and event venue, splash pad (open seasonally), 40 community garden plots and restrooms