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a view from the opening in the Hole in the Rock formation
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Papago Park

625 North Galvin Pkwy Phoenix, Arizona 85008
Park hours vary. Gates are generally open 6am – 7pm, or sunset. Trails are open later.
602-495-5458 1.5 hours
March 2013 All year
$0-9 Phoenix Arizona
Website Nature Local Parks
First review
Papago Park is a municipal park in Phoenix and Tempe. The Phoenix portion is approximately 1,200 acres. It is home to a variety of large sandstone rocks and buttes, including the well-known Hole in the Rock formation. The park also has extensive visitor facilities such as a sports stadium, golf course, zoo, botanical garden, various ponds and hiking trails.

Papago Park was once part of a national monument set up in 1914 to help preserve the saguaro cactus, but with development encroaching on the area, it was determined that the land would be better put to other uses and monument status was withdrawn in 1930. A larger monument for the saguaro was created near Tucson and it later became Saguaro National Park. Papago briefly was used as a prisoner of war camp during World War II and then for military purposes after the war. Phoenix took ownership in the 1950s, and park facilities were developed thereafter.

While the park has a range of activities, this review covers just the Hole in the Rock Trail and Nature Trail. They are located near each other. The Hole in the Rock Trail is only a few hundred yards, though does have some steps. It often draws a crowd especially on weekends. The rock opening at the top offered reasonably good views. Some adventurous visitors scampered up to the very top of the rock formation, although doing so meant ascending using both arms and legs and moving carefully. For most people the hole in the rock area was fine. The Nature Trail was flat and unremarkable. This easy 1/4 mile trail makes a loop around a picnic area and ranger’s office. Other than some nature interpretive signs, it was boring and is a place to kill time rather than a true hiking destination. As the park is near the airport, airplane noise was continuous at both trails. Neither trail was especially interesting or memorable, but if you have time prior to a flight and want to stretch your legs a bit, the Hole in the Rock Trail can work for a brief visit.
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