"" Writer's Wanderings: Phoenix - South Mountain Park

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Phoenix - South Mountain Park

With our afternoons filled with preseason baseball games, we took the mornings we had in the Phoenix area to explore. One morning we chose to drive through the municipal park. Most municipal parks in cities are small treed areas with grass and park benches. No so in Phoenix.

The South Mountain Park/Preserve is over 16,000 acres and I don't recall seeing any grass or trees over 6 feet tall. Its size makes it the largest municipal park in the country.

Its history dates back to 1924 when citizens bought 13,000 acres from the federal government for $17,000. In 1935, the National Park Service laid out the plans for hiking and riding trails, overlooks, and picnic areas. All have served the community well. It is estimated that the park averages 3 million visitors a year.

We grabbed a map from the entrance area that looked very Southwestern in its design and started for the summit. There are several lookout points and we tried to hit them all. The park is desertlike--obviously, but very interesting with its rock formations and cactus growth.

The trails looked like fun until I remembered that there were rattlesnakes out there. I'm such a wimp. Lots of people were setting off on them though. It was a Saturday and the park bustled with bicyclists and hikers.

Dobbins Lookout gave the best view of the downtown area of Phoenix and showed just how much the area spreads out into the desert as it becomes Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale, etc. I guess I never realized before those cities were all so closely linked.

Quite an unusual municipal park. Quite a morning.

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