16 Stunning Half Marathons in the Desert



1) Red Rock Canyon Half Marathon • Las Vegas, NV

Every hue of red, orange and earth color surrounds you along Scenic Canyon Road at the Red Rock Canyon Half Marathon, which runs through this nearly 200,000-acre park filled with with majestic red sandstone, sheer 1,800-ft. cliffs and mountains like Rainbow Mountain and Indecision Peak.

February • Race info & signup »

2) Six Tunnels to Hoover Dam Half Marathon • Boulder City, NV

Combine a run through a desert-like environment, the crystal-blue waters of Nevada’s Lake Mead and the majestic Hoover Dam at this race, which takes runners along a mountainous trail road through the hills of Lake Mead National Recreational Area to the world-famous dam.

March • Race info & signup »

3) Escape From Prison Hill Half Marathon • Carson City, NV

Experience the feeling of running an ultramarathon — complete with very difficult and rocky terrain, steep hills, and narrow mountain trails — without running that distance at this race, which organizers say will linger in your mind long after you’ve crossed the finish line.

April • Race info & signup »

4) Revel Mount Charleston Half Marathon • Las Vegas, NV

This stunningly scenic, all-downhill race starts in Kyle Canyon just outside Las Vegas and finishes at Centennial Hills Park, and takes runners on a descent of more than 2,000 feet in elevation between the start and the finish line.

May • Race info & signup »

5) Lost Dutchman Half Marathon • Apache Junction, AZ

Gorgeously scenic and highly challenging, this race — which Runner’s World once called one of the nation’s “best little marathons” — offers a rugged desert course that starts in downtown Apache Junction and takes runners toward the Superstition Mountains that tower over the city.

February • Race info & signup »

6) Sedona Half Marathon • Sedona, AZ

If you’ve ever seen U2’s “Under a Blood Red Sky” concert video, then you’ve caught a glimpse of the kind of dramatic landscapes and gorgeous scenery that await runners each year at this race, which unfolds through the heart of central Arizona’s red rock spires and mountain valleys.

February • Race info & signup »

7) Arizona Distance Classic Half Marathon • Tucson, AZ

Surrounded by mountains and run through valleys lined with cactus plants and rocky terrain, this race is one that organizers say is “the most scenic race course anywhere,” run through the Oro Valley just north of Tucson, in the shadow of the nearby Santa Catalina Mountains.

March • Race info & signup »

8) Grand Canyon Half Marathon • Tusayan, AZ

Run along the trails and forest roads near the South Rim of the majestic Grand Canyon, this race draws as many as 1,500 runners out to one of the world’s true natural wonders, which stretches more than 270 miles long and reaches a depth of more than a mile at its deepest point.

May • Race info & signup »

9) Whiskey Row Half Marathon • Prescott, AZ

Billed by organizers as “one of the toughest marathons in the United States,” this race features a steep climb of roughly 1,000 feet in elevation from the starting line to the half-way point, along a combination of paved roads and dirt trails inside the Prescott National Forest.

May • Race info & signup »

10) Death Valley Trail Half Marathon • Death Valley, CA

Held deep within California’s Death Valley National Park and limited to just 250 entrants, this race usually sells out well in advance of race day, which takes place in winter so that runners can expect both gorgeous views and temperatures comfortable enough for running.

December • Race info & signup »

11) Yuma Territorial Half Marathon • Somerton, AZ

Except for a brief downhill at the start and an uphill near the finish, this race features a mostly long, flat straightaway out-and-back course along the shoulder of Arizona Highway 95, featuring most starkly beautiful scenery, with its wide-open spaces and desert resorts.

January • Race info & signup »

12) ARR Desert Classic Half Marathon • Surprise, AZ

This winter race takes runners on a long, mostly straightaway course just to the north of Arizona’s 30,000-acre White Tank Mountain Regional Park, filled with rugged, rocky, mountainous terrain near Phoenix.

January • Race info & signup »

13) E.T. Full Moon Midnight Half Marathon • Rachel, NV

When we say there’s no other race like this one in the country, we really mean it. The “E.T.” Full Moon races welcome hundreds of runners each year for this midnight run through the desert along what is rumored to be some of the most active hotbeds of “extraterrestrial” activity anywhere in the U.S.

August • Race info & signup »

14) Laughlin/Runnercard Half Marathon • Laughlin, NV

You’ll run along the twisting, winding Colorado River on the border between Nevada and California at this race, which is really more of a trail than a road race, and captures the signature sights and scenic views of southwestern Nevada and the Arizona desert.

March • Race info & signup »

15) Labor of Love Half Marathon • Lovell Canyon, NV

Located in the little-known and seldom-visited Spring Mountains of Nevada, this race takes runners into a pristine natural environment with valleys surrounded by mountains, sagebrush and Joshua Trees everywhere — and absolutely no facilities anywhere.

March • Race info & signup »

16) National Nurses Half Marathon • Las Vegas, NV

“It’s not just for nurses,” organizers say about this late winter race, which runs through the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The 195,000-acre desert park is filled with stunning red, orange and earth-toned sandstone, waterfalls and petroglyphs, drawings early humans scrawled on the walls here thousands of years ago.

March • Race info & signup »

1 comment… add one
  • Mark V January 25, 2016, 2:26 am

    Please add one more! The Laughlin/Bullhead Half Marathon & 5K has announced a December 3, 2016 date. Amazing views of Lake Mohave, the Colorado River and stunning desert landscapes. Great hotel rates of $40 per night, Free Microbrew Beer, Tech tee, sweet medal – the PERFECT December Race-cation! http://www.RunLaughlin.com

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