Arizona Canal

A waterside ride from Scottsdale to Phoenix includes art, eats, and boutiques

Nora Burba Trulsson

Looking for something different to do on a crisp, clear December day? Hop on a bike and cruise leisurely along the banks of the canals that crisscross metro Phoenix, bringing vital water to the urban desert.

A perfectly flat stretch of packed dirt from Scottsdale to Phoenix is flanked by eateries, art, shops ― and, of course, the flowing canals (which will be drained in January for annual maintenance, so go now). Sure, you could walk, but pedaling allows you to cover more turf ― and if you attach a basket to the bike, you can bring home treasures to put under the tree.

Getting there

Arizona Canal is most easily accessible via north-south cross streets. To follow our suggested route, start at Goldwater Boulevard and Fifth Avenue in downtown Scottsdale, where there is abundant free street parking adjacent to the canal.

Rent wheels

Pull your dusty cruiser out of the garage ― or rent from a local shop. We like Bicycle Haus ($25 half-day, $35 full day, includes helmet, lock, and map; 10-6 Mon-Fri, 10-4 Sat, 12-4 Sun; 7025 E. Fifth Ave., Scottsdale; 480/994-4287) because it's right across the street from the canal.

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