A Hidden Gem in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert

The Arizona Retreat Center in Fort McDowell, Arizona, features three luxurious rental homes tucked against the unparalleled beauty of the Sonoran Desert.

The Arizona Retreat Center is located in Fort McDowell, Arizona, which is 30 miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and 14 miles from Scottsdale. The Arizona Retreat Center is also located within driving distance of other popular Arizona destinations, including Payson (1 hour), Sedona (2.5 hours), the Grand Canyon (4 hours), and Lake Powell (4 hours).

Fort McDowell and the surrounding areas offer a variety of opportunities for adventure: hiking, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, tubing, hot air balloon rides, and ATV/off road rentals. In addition, local museums, galleries, shops, golf clubs, and a casino provide endless opportunities for entertainment.

The Arizona Retreat Center is adjacent to the Tonto National Forest, which is the largest national forest in Arizona with more than 2.9 million acres. It is the seventh largest national forest among 154 USDA National Forests. Tonto National Forest features some of the most rugged and inherently beautiful land in the country. Sonoran Desert cacti and flatlands slowly give way to the highlands of the Mogollon Rim.

Fort McDowell is the home of the Yavapai Nation. The Yavapai have lived and worked in this area for thousands of years, and this land is only a small portion of their ancestral territory. The tribe’s lands still breathe a sense of the Old West, as cattle drives and horses wade across the Verde River to greener pastures.

Our Luxury Rentals

Whether you’re coming to celebrate, to get away from it all, or to work on something important, the Arizona Retreat Center offers comfort and luxury with Southwestern charm.

Six Attractions You Won’t Want to Miss Near the Arizona Retreat Center

Don’t let the stark beauty of the desert fool you—a bounty of wildlife, water, and activities you can do await if you just know where to look. When you’re ready to step outside of your luxury rental for an outdoor adventure or some nightlife, check out one of the following attractions:


Horseback Riding

There’s just something about the desert that beckons for a horseback riding experience, unencumbered without the noise of vehicles that puts you up close and personal with the land, and communing with these majestic animals. Ft. Mcdowell Adventures offers a variety of horseback and wagon experiences through the surprising variety of ecosystems in the Tonto National Forest and desert, including trail rides, wagon rides, cattle drives, and even cookouts. Riders eight years and up are welcome.


Desert Belle Steamboat Experience

Just because you’re in the desert doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some water, too. Less than 15 minutes away, Desert Belle Steamboat Cruises will take you on a leisurely spin around Saguaro Lake in an air-conditioned boat, with musical entertainment, craft beers, and a guided tour of some of Arizona’s most beautiful sites and wildlife.


Sonoran Desert Jeep Tour at Sunset

Carry a spirit of adventure into the desert by taking a desert jeep tour of the Sonoran Desert at sunset, when the skies perform a riot of colors so spectacular you might feel you’ve never truly seen a sunset before. About a 30-minute drive from Ft. McDowell will take you to Scottsdale, where you’ll set off in a modified open-air Jeep Gladiator. A professional guide will clue you in to special desert wildlife and flora, as well as touch upon Native American history. You’ll stop at panoramic overlooks and get the thrill of an off-road vehicle.


Hiking Four Peaks Wilderness Area

If boats, horses, or jeeps aren’t your thing, hoof it on foot into the Tonto National Forest with more than 16 curated hiking trails situated over 60,000 acres, at the Four Peaks Wilderness Area. You can hike for miles, up and down elevation, to lakes and streams, and through numerous ecosystems. Though you may expect to see the stately saguaro cacti, this area is also home to cottonwoods, sycamores, manzanita, oak, and pinon pine. You might spy a ring-tailed cat, skunk, coyote, javelina, or mountain lion. And it’s not unheard of for lightning storms to occur—just pay attention to the weather forecast so you don’t get caught in a flash flood.


Salt River Tubing in the Tonto National Forest

If your craving for adventure is more of the water-based variety, checkout saltwater tubing in the Tonto National Forest, about 20 minutes away in nearby Mesa, Arizona. You’ll wind your way down the Salt River, passing through exquisite landscapes in the Tonto National Forest. Stay on your tube or plunge into the refreshing river water for a little invigorating swim. These trips are family-friendly for kids ages eight and up.


Casino Night at We-Ko-Pa Casino

A trip to Ft. McDowell wouldn’t be complete without a night at the local casino, We-Ko-Pa. From slots, to bingo, to table games, to a wide array of entertainment, you can easily while away several hours in this fun, fast-paced casino. Linger over a lovely meal in one of their many dining areas, from fine dining at Ember, to All-American cuisine at the Ahnala Mesquite Room, to a more casual meal in The Buffet, to bingo snacks and a sports bar, you’ll find something to satisfy your tastes.


The property is simply amazing! The home is brand new and has everything you might need. The views are stunning! Brittney, the property manager is easy to work with and went out of her way to make sure everything was perfect - and it was! There really is nothing quite like this property - perched on a mountain looking out over the Tonto National Forest. Beautiful sunsets, beautiful patio with outdoor grill, fire pit, pool, hot tub, chipping/putting area, bocce court, hiking out the back door. Extraordinary! If you are lucky enough to stay here, you are lucky enough... We are already planning a return visit!
by Dave B.
St. Louis, MO
Very exclusive and private setting. The house is very modern and clean with lots of amenities and open views of the desert and mountains. Breathtaking sunsets. We saw wild horses nearby and a great horned owl perched on our roof one evening. We enjoyed the pool and hot tub. My boys enjoyed the putting green. We would love to come back.
by Keith B.
Pictures do not do this place justice, this home and everything around it is stunning. The house is beautiful and so well laid out, the perfect place to wind down after a day of fun. There is so much to do just right outside your door. There are wonderful hiking trails right out back. Perfect for an early morning hike. The views are outstanding. We had moonset, sunrise and sunset views from the pool. The pool and hot tub were a hit after our hikes. Early evening Bocce Ball and putting green kept us entertained until dinner. Short drive to grocery stores and a little further to visit the Phoenix area. We had two families on our trip, both families had 2 or 3 teens. Everyone went home happy and can not wait to come back.
by April H.
We loved our escape to Fort McDowell to soak in the sun and explore the desert after a long, cold winter. The property gave us the perfect blend of gathering spaces and privacy for 8 adults and an infant. The large kitchen space worked very well with many “cooks in the kitchen”. As questions about the property came up, the host was accessible and helpful. Highly recommend for families looking for a special place to gather, build new memories and explore all that the area offers.
by Kim S.
A beautiful modern and stylish house with an amazing pool and views, right next to the National Park. Easy and unobtrusive host with some thoughtful touches
by Jonny L.

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