Papago Park

Papago Park is a wonderful municipal park that can be found wedged between the Arizona cities of Phoenix, Tempe, and Scottsdale. Hilly desert terrain characterizes this delightful, 1,200-acre park, and beautiful sandstone buttes add to the relatively austere landscape. Hiking is one of the top things to do at Papago Park, but it certainly isn't the only option. In addition to some relatively easy hiking trails, the park has a few major attractions, one of which is the renowned Desert Botanical Garden. There's also Papago Park golf, and enjoying a lakeside picnic can prove rewarding when the weather is nice.

In addition to the Desert Botanical Garden, Papago Park is home to the Phoenix Zoo. Both of these attractions help to make the park a very family-friendly destination, and they can be enjoyed throughout the year. At the botanical gardens, plants figure among the star attractions, while warm weather animals are on display at the large zoo. Both the zoo and the gardens feature excellent walking trails as part of their exhibits, and these trails allow visitors to explore the Sonoran Desert terrain. When visitors to Papago Park aren't hiking along the trails at the zoo or the gardens, they can take to the park's other trails. Many visitors make the famed Hole in the Rock their main hiking destination, and for good reason.

Reddish-brown rocks and buttes dominate the hilly terrain at Papago Park, and they are complemented by a collection of green desert plants, including often quite large saguaro cacti. A number of fascinating geological formations have been naturally created over time within the park's boundaries, and none is more renowned than the Hole in the Rock. This series of cave-like openings at the top of a small, sandstone hill are an utter joy to explore, and it is easy to get to them via a smooth, ascending path. For experienced climbers, reaching the top of Hole in the Rock is also possible by scaling the face of the hill. Part of the reward for getting to the top is the chance to enjoy the views of Downtown Phoenix to the west.

For those who are interested in adding some golf to their Phoenix vacation itinerary, the Papago Park Golf Course is worth keeping on the radar. Completely revamped in 2008, this impressive municipal golf course is better than ever, and while the rates aren't exactly low for out of towners, they are worth it. Locals get special deals. The well-manicured turf and excellent views of area peaks such as Camelback Mountain add to the upscale, championship appeal of the park's golf course, and for those who like to be tested, playing from the back tees stretches it out to an impressive 7,333 yards. When Papago Park Golf Course visitors aren't enjoying time on the links, they can work on their game at the driving range, which is open daily.

Papago Park caters to all kinds of interests, and this helps to make it one of the top Phoenix attractions. In addition to ascending to the top of Hole in the Rock, teeing up for a round of high-quality golf, or dropping by the zoo or botanical gardens, park visitors can also enjoy some relatively tame mountain biking. Trying to snag some trout or catfish at the park's various fishing lagoons is also an option, and it's possible to test your merit at the archery range. There's even an interesting tomb at the park where George Wiley Paul Hunt and some of his family members are buried. Born in 1859, Hunt was Arizona's first governor, and he reassumed this post on six more occasions before passing away in 1934.

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