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Drive through one of the largest parks in the United States that covers over 16,000 acres (6474 hectares). With many lookout points, South Mountain Park, offers fantastic views of Phoenix and the surrounding valley. Summit Lookout is at 2,330 feet (710.18 meters) and highlights the enormity of this sprawling desert area. For visitors, the Interpretive Center takes you through the heritage of the area including mining and botanical history. If you prefer an experience out of the car, hike by the marked trails and study the preserved petroglyphs. Carry lunch and enjoy the park's picnic areas with kids in tow. Remember your sunscreen, hat and drinking water when visiting Arizona's best park.
If you are in Phoenix and enjoy going on easy treks, then Papago Park is the place for you. With its sandstone buttes, marked paths and slight elevation, it is perfect for family hiking trips and there are plenty of easy mountain bike paths. The most notable attraction of the park is the hole in the rock formation, which formed over thousands of years most likely from water erosion. For the more adventurous, visitors can climb the face of the rock for an unparalleled view of Phoenix. Additionally, the park is close to famous attractions such as the Desert Botanical Garden and Phoenix Zoo.
Experienced hikers will appreciate the beauty of this hike in Papago Park. Located on Camelback Mountain, at 2700 feet, it is the highest point in Phoenix. This popular trail is well maintained and offers a close-up view of the desert. This trail runs just over one mile and offers several areas of challenge. For those inclined to a less arduous path, try the one-mile hike at nearby Squaw Peak.
Located close to the city of Scottsdale, the Camelback Mountain watches over Phoenix, Arizona's sweeping semi-arid plains from a spectacular elevation of nearly 1,400 feet (426.72 meters). The mountain gets its name from the resemblance it bears to the unmistakable shape of a camel's hump. The north trailhead offers views of red cliffs rising 200 feet (61 meters) in some areas, beckoning rock climbers with its challenges. Antelope squirrels, lizards, and snakes are the landscape's most widely-spread inhabitants. The Praying Monk red sandstone formation is arguably the site's most noticeable sight.
Amidst the buzzing cityscape of Phoenix lies a serene retreat that is known as the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. From soaring peaks to plunging valleys, the park displays a varied topography with multiple trails cutting through. Amidst a craggy landscape of steep ascents and rugged terrain, a generous population of succulent plants are scattered throughout, with a few flowering shrubs, typical of the desert climes reign here. Most of its area is accessible to civilians and is hence a common choice for family picnics and hikes. A few of the most prominent parks enclosed by the preserve are the Piestewa Peak Recreation Area, the Camelback Mountain Park and the Lookout Mountain Preserve. Although surrounded by the city, the Phoenix Mountain Preserve is a slice of wilderness that evokes a sense of isolation that is a welcome reprieve from the bustling city.