Have you ever driven past Papago Park in Phoenix and not checked it out?
If you are like me, you have seen it while driving on the 202, and while at the Phoenix Zoo and looked longingly at the mountain. I did this four FOUR years before I told the husband we had to finally check it out. I was a bit nervous about hiking there since, well , there’s a huge hole! And, I felt like it would be quite a huge hike, but it really was not.
To get to Papago Park, you will take Galvin Parkway, as if you are going to the Phoenix Zoo or Desert Botanical Garden. Instead of staying straight on Galvin Parkway, you will take a left turn on Papago Park Road. Be careful not to cross the double lines turning into Papago Park Rd as there are spike strips should you go the wrong way! Eek. Not sure why there was a need for that, but I am guessing it is because there are times that the Zoo and Park reach max capacity.
We parked at the very first parking lot we came across, that was to our right as we entered. There are quite a few parking lots, and even one right at the base of the Hole in the Rock trail, but there aren’t a lot of parking spots. Parking is also available near the ponds. Papago Rd turns into Ranger Office Loop Trail and is a one way loop with a couple of small, driveable roads that bring you to different sections, such as the Governor Hunt Tomb Parking. there are a few small loops that also offer semi circular parking as well. Lots of parking options but you would want to have a stroller if you are not going up to the Hole in the Rock trail.
Since we walked from the furthest parking lot, we took a little trail (the dotted lines you see above to the North of Papago Rd) that led us to the Hole in the Rock trail.
We saw a little cute toddler playground. The Park also has community fishing lakes, archery range, orienteering course, a baseball and softball course and a Golf Course. It is near the Hall of Flame museum as well.
This playground is perfect if you have a little one that you do not want to climb up to the Hole in the Rock, this is a great place to hang out. It is far enough away from the trail that the kids can’t get to it easily, close to the bathroom and far enough away from the street you can let a toddler loose. My kids wanted to play at it, but really, they were too big for it!
The Mountains almost look like playgough to me. My kids think they look like the poop emoji. Ah, thank you Emojis!
There it is, the Hole in the Rock. From below, you can see the area you can easily get to (sort of). But the top, eek! This hole is believed to have been a look out for the Hohokam where they looked out and measured time and the solstices.
We visited the bathroom before we hiked up, because I always need to go. The bathrooms were basic, like all of the other city park bathrooms.
I had thought that the hole in the rock would be much higher and harder to get to. Although I wouldn’t recommend this to moms that have babies in strollers or toddlers who wander, or doing it in the rain, it was a very simple hike. It was steep, but not a long ascent.
Drone zones! Something you wouldn’t have thought about during the Hohokam Time! We did not see any bees, but it is good to note that there may be some.
This little cave area was right near the base of the hike. The kids loved playing with it. The rock is sandstone, and was much rougher than I imagined it from afar.
Right before we went into the hole in the rock, we looked out on the horizon. Dimples was very happy to see the tent for Cavalia (big white tent!).
The rock stairs made it easier to climb up to the big hole in the rock. However, we did need to assist Dimples on some of the stairs as they were 12″ or so high. Right near the base of the entrance to the hole was pretty steep and Munchie (8) did a little tumble. Luckily, its not really steep.
The rocks get you in and out of the Hole in the rock from the back end (where you hike up). This is definitely where I recommend a no toddler zone as there are no fences and it does slope down. There is a lot of room to walk around, but, careful with your footing! Also, if it is raining, I can see this as being extremely slippery.
From the top of the “entrance”, this is the view. I realized that my fear of heights kicked in about now. Not that it is really high up, but high enough. And not being enclosed. Plus three kids that sometimes don’t pay attention to their surroundings!
You can see the parking lots, the lakes and all those beautiful palm trees!
Munchie is pointing out the “seat” that he sees and wants to go sit in it. You can see there is a ledge (living on the ledge?) and a quick slope up and down. Giggles went up to the “seat” and then ran down to the ledge, and we caught her.
What she could have been running down to. Yikes! Obviously, this is where the water usually goes down during a rain storm. At this point I was ready to go back!
Munchie was very smug that he climbed into his rock seat. I don’t think it was all that comfortable, but he did have an awesome view.
The entrance to the hole in the rock, with stairs. From the “seated” area Munchie found. The stairs are pretty narrow but luckily you can grab onto the sides. Other people go around the area on the left of the picture and climb on top. No thanks! Munchie, our climber, of course wanted to. We both emphatically said “when you have your own insurance!”
Getting back down the trail was a little steep, so be careful with your footing. The dry dirt also makes for slippery footing.
We walked around the park and saw the lakes where people can fish.
I found it interesting how they made the edges look almost swamp like!
The little streams and bridges were super cute. Ramadas were placed all around. Some looked like they were little houses or huts, similar to what we have seen at the Pueblo Grande Museum.
This is Hunt’s Tomb, which we had to check out after seeing it for years from the Phoenix Zoo!
We didn’t park at the nearest parking lot, so we kind of trailblazed our way to the top.
Governor George WP Hunt was Arizona’s first governor and served 7 terms. He also supported women’s rights, and allowed women to vote before anywhere else int he nation. Governor Hunt was also a Freemason and built this tomb for his wife when she died in 1931. He and the list (shown above) shows everyone who is buried inside. The tomb fell into disrepair for years, but was restored starting in 2006.
The view from this point is absolutely amazing. I wish I could have stayed there all day. From this point, you can see the airport, miles around the Phoenix area and my favorite-seeing the giraffes at the zoo from above!
Papago Park is truly amazing with everything that it has to offer, especially the scenic views of the Phoenix valley. If you have been hesitant to go, like myself, I highly suggest going with your kids and another adult. It is worth going, even if you can’t do the hike!
Papago Park Phoenix-West Park
626 N Galvin Parkway