With Thanksgiving fast approaching, the annual marathon of holiday obligations and events is kicking into gear. Take time out before the craziness sets in to enjoy Arizona’s beautiful fall weather with these nighttime desert tours. They’ll get you out under the tranquil glow of a full moon and leave you chilled enough to crave a mug of cocoa and a cozy blanket.
Lost Dutchman State Park, 6109 N. Apache Trail, Apache Junction
A ranger leads a 2.5-mile trek along Jacob’s Crosscut Trail, a rocky, uneven path with occasional steep grades at the base of the foreboding Superstition Mountains. A campfire — with free marshmallows and roasting sticks — will warm you up afterward. No pets. 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday. $7-per-vehicle park entry fee. Groups of 25 or more must call ahead for special arrangements. Info: (480) 982-4485 or azstateparks.com.
San Tan Mountain Regional Park, 6533 W. Phillips Road, Queen Creek
Hiking not your thing? Saddle up your horse or trusty two-wheeled steed for a nighttime tour of this park.
Horseback riders can watch the desert go from firey sunset to the white glow of moonlight on a 4.2-mile trail ride 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. You must bring your own mount. Later, the trails open to mountain bikers. Night riders can take a crack at a 5.7-mile loop from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.
Helmets and lights with a three-hour power source are mandatory for both events, and riders must sign in and out at the trailhead, as the rides are not guided. Volunteers will sweep the course to ensure all riders return safely. $6-per-vehicle park entry fee for either activity. Info: (480) 655-5554 or maricopa.gov/parks/santan.
Usery Mountain Regional Park, 3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesa
A park ranger points out and explains the sights, sounds and smells of the darkened desert on this 2.5-mile “Full Frosty Moon” hike. Bring drinking water and a flashlight, and wear closed-toe shoes. No pets. Large groups should call ahead. 7 p.m. Saturday. $6-per-vehicle park entry fee. Info: (480) 984-0032 or maricopa.gov/parks/usery.