Fall in the Arizona desert means brilliant sunny days and dark nights sprinkled with glittering stars. Perhaps you’ll spot the nighthawks fluttering about at dusk. A bat or two might soar past, looking for morsels in the desert. Scottsdale, Arizona, at the edge of the McDowell Mountains in the northern end of the Valley of the Sun, offers the perfect setting for a spooky retreat.

Nightmares and Luxury Await

Begin your spooky Scottsdale experience by checking into Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. Fall at the Princess features tempting food, luxury accommodations and a hauntingly good time.

The centerpiece of the fall event takes place on the Saturday evening before Halloween with Nightmare on Princess Drive. The Plaza Bar transforms from a welcoming water hole with pool and golf course views into the Princess Prison, which is reserved for the most dangerous delinquents. You may never want to escape this bar-turned-prison offering live entertainment, specialty cocktails and an  over-the-top costume contest. Designed for the 21-and-over crowd, the event will bring a tingle or two to your spine.

For those seeking something less scary, the annual Halloween party at The Plaza Bar features your favorite fall cocktail flavors crafted by the resort’s mixologists. Sit by the firepit on Halloween night and enjoy the star-studded night sky. Adults can sip a cocktail that evokes memories of previous Halloween treats with such flavors as salted maple, candied apple, cinnamon and pumpkin.

After an evening of chills and thrills, take time to rejuvenate your soul at Well & Being Spa. October treatments include pumpkin enzymes, mānuka honey, cardamom and coconut milk. Sisley-Paris Spa welcomes October with all-new massage services, including the Sisley Tranquil Massage, Recovery Deep Tissue Massage and Harmonizing Salt Stone Massage.

Día de los Muertos at La Hacienda

While you’re visiting Scottsdale, plan to experience Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. Once a year, the living celebrate and honor the dead in this traditional Mexican celebration. The 2-day event traditionally features colorful costumes, holiday food and drink, dancing and music. Reserve a table at La Hacienda and celebrate with a meal featuring a special fall dish, a seasonal cocktail or one of hundreds of tequilas. 

Haunted Houses Abound

Spooky is everywhere in the Phoenix area during October. If you dare venture out, head to the haunted maze at AZ Field of Screams. Be warned, though, the corn maze is reportedly built over a forgotten cemetery. Located about 30 miles west of Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Glendale, this scary offering is perfect for those who love to see their nightmares come to life. For families or less intrepid revelers, there is a family maze.

For something a bit milder, head to Old Town Scottsdale to check out the Haunted Graveyard. This haunted house is not recommended for children under the age of 13. It’ll take you about 13 minutes to walk through the haunted house, which features illusions, fog and spooky haunts galore.

Tolerance for spooky a bit low? Head to MacDonald’s Ranch Pumpkin Patch and Trail Rides, located six miles north of the resort on Scottsdale Road. Not scary at all, this adventure delivers fun for the entire family. Wander through a hay bale maze, play lawn games, go on a scavenger hunt, hop on a hayride and pet the farm animals.