Desert Mountains   5 comments

Just a little history of the park . . .

On Wednesday, November 3, 2010, I had nothing much to do after dropping my son off at Phoenix College, so I took my trusty digital camera and went to one of my favorite places: South Mountain Park.  The South Mountains are a huge city park/mountain preserve conisting of more than 16000 acres of undeveloped Arizona deserts and mountains.  The good thing about the area is that there are roads leading to all parts of it, and hiking trails that will take the adventurous to the more inaccesible locations.

I consider the South Mountain Park area to be one of the Wonders of Phoenix, probably the greatest Wonder of Phoenix.  Going there calms me down and brings a kind of quiet happiness to my spirit.  There is always a breeze on the mountaintops.  The city smog lies below you.  And you can see for 50 miles in any direction, sometimes farther.

What follows are just a bunch of the pictures (I took 41, but I won’t hit you with all of them) that I took while visiting various locales in the mountains.

The entrance to the park is guarded by three stable.

Here’s a long shot of one of the stabes you can find near the entrance to the park.  If you look closely you can just make out a white horse in the center of the picture.  There are signs throughout the park warning drivers to be wary of horseback riders.  The picture also shows a bit of typical desert landscape around the stable–mesquite trees and cactus are everywhere.

There's a park ranger station at the entrance to the park.

The ranger station at the entrance to the park is a good place to stop for a soft drink, a trip to the bathroom, a map, or a walk on the nature trail that shows what kinds of vegetation and critters you can find inside the preserve. It is good to stop here.  There are no sanitary facilities of any sort once you get inside.  This is a desert park.  You want to bring water or other drinkables, and perhaps some food when you enter.  I brought two bottles of ice cold Coca Cola.

Just the beginning of the Nature Trail. It's a good short walk.


Keep your eyes open and you might find pictoglyphs.

This stone actually came from outside the park area, and was brought here as a good example of the kind of thing you want to watch for when hiking in the park.  Under today’s laws, it would be illegal to move such a stone, but the engineer who found this one back in the 30s had no such restrictions.  The Hidden Valley part of the park is especially rich in pictoglyphs.

Excellent roads take you wherever you want to go inside the park.

As you can see, I really like to just stop and take pictures through the open window of my car.  The western end of the park isn’t as popular as the eastern and central parts, and is closed off at the moment.  Budget cuts.

Can you see Camelback Mountain in the distance?

There are many places to stop and enjoy panoramic views of the Valley of the Sun.  Although I could see downtown Phoenix clearly in these shots, you may not be able to make out the bigger buildings without a magnifying glass.

Television and radio towers crowd the highest part of the mountains.


She didn’t want a ride. Wouldn’t take one despite my most winning smile.

Some people actually hike inside the park.  I met this extremely fit young woman near the Gila Valley lookout point. She was practicing for some kind of marathon hike that is scheduled to take place on Friday the 5th of November.   I talked to her for a few minutes and got her to take my picture, and I took hers. She was carrying a camera also, and had me take one of her.  A favor for a favor is a fair trade indeed.

As for me, I don’t hike much any more.  Feet and back will knock me out in less than a quarter of a mile.  I don’t have to hike.  I have a car, and I’m not afraid to use it. (Grin).

See! Atroll really was on top of the mountains.

Leaving my hiking acquaintance behind, I went on to visit a few of the other high spots in the park. 

Back in the day, ten years or so ago, I liked to hike a mile or so along this trail just for the scnenery.

 The mountains are full of hiking trails.  This one goes about six miles and comes out at the eastern end of the park in the Ahwahtukee section of extreme southern Phoenix.

I thought it was higher.

Dobbins Point lookout is the main place for parking and looking out over the city of Phoenix.  It’s a great place to come and park with your girl at night.  The lights of the city are all below you from here.

IMHO, this is the strangest cactus in the desert, waving its thorny tentacles at the sky. I call them Cthulhu bushes.

The desert is full of weird beauty if you let your imagination roam at all.  I stopped to take a picture of the strangest but not the most dangerous plant in the desert on my way down.  I had been in the park for about two hours.

I love the mountains.

My trip is about finished for the day.  I just have to drive down and go home now.  This was a good spot to look back over the long and winding road (cue music) that would soon be taking me home.  Being in the desert is peaceful and beautiful, but I was getting hungry.  Home is where the food is.  I’ll return to these moutains some day.  I come here once or twice a year, just to refresh my soul.  I’d love to share these vistas with a friend.


Posted November 4, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized

5 responses to “Desert Mountains

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  1. Chello!

    Thanks for sharing, Trollgod!

    I visited some friend out in Tuscon back in the 90s. I liked to go walking “in the desert.” It’s very peaceful and relaxing and there’s a surprising amount of green out there. It’s just not the same kaleidoscope of green that East Texas has. 🙂

  2. Would like to see what kind of adventure you might set in a Trollworld equilvent of the park.

    Liked the pictures.


  3. I have walked that same trail back in 1983. Saw a four foot rattlesnake – went the other way and it went on the way it was going – it was about an hour before sunset.

    Thanks for the photos.


  4. I miss having a hiking group. We used to go to all of the local mountain parks, a different one every other Sunday morning. Now that group just does mall walking when they bother to get together…

    Thanks for sharing the photos and bringing back my own memories of the world’s largest municipal park!

  5. Petroglyphs.

    The park has a lot of really really nice ones too. You just need to know where to look. Some of the best are just a minute or two away from parking areas.

    King-Gerbil the Keith

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