Papago Park is a nearly 1500 acre desert park situated in both Phoenix and Tempe, Arizona. It is a great place to hold reunions, birthday parties, and other events. There are picnic areas and lots of hiking trails and bike paths across the park.

There are cool red-ish rock formations and buttes at one end of the acreage. The Hole-in-the-Rock, is one such formation and has become a major landmark. It formed due to water sliding down the rock face and washing out a boulder. Then over the years rain and wind have eroded away the hole into what it is today. People climb up to it and find some great photo opportunities, especially with our beautify Phoenix sunsets.

Papago is home to both Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Gardens. Two fun and beautiful places indeed! Contact me if you want a photo session there.

Phoenix Zoo

Javelina eating in the desert of the Phoenix AZ

The zoo is actually situated on the old fish hatchery site. The hatcher was closed down after it was seen as obsolete decades ago. What has sprung up in its place is something extraordinary and yet based on the same principal – sanctuary.

The zoo is divided into 4 areas; the Arizona Trail, Africa Trail, Tropics Trail, and the Children’s Trail. The names are pretty self-explanatory.

The Arizona Trail emulates the wildlife found all across Arizona. You will see javelina and coyotes, cougars, pronghorn, vultures, and even parrots. Even the plants are native to the Sonoran Desert. There are beautiful saguaro and other cacti along this trail. It is pretty interesting to see the animals that live in our state in a quasi-natural habitat.

The Africa Trail has white rhinos, lions, giraffes, and hyaena exhibits. These big animals are impressive to see and are always a favorite with the kids. I usually hit this area before going into the two-part Tropics Trail.

The first part of the Tropics Trail is along the lake and is where the aviary and “Monkey Village” are. You can see lemurs, orangutans, and squirrel monkeys. Just be careful because the little monkeys like to throw stuff at you!

The second part of the Tropics Trail has the Komodo dragons, elephants, and giant tortoises. The Sumatran tigers are a focal exhibit here too.

If your kids want to get close to some small mammals from around the world, the Children’s Trail has emus, gibbons, and tamarins. But it is not all exotic animals. There are many farm animals in the petting zoo too.

Desert Botanical Gardens

Back in the mid-1930s the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society founded the Desert Botanical Gardens. A person who had a major influence over the garden’s development was Gertrude Webster. She was on the first Board of Directors and lived on the property that is now the neighborhood of Arcadia, used her connections and gave significant financial support. Without her, it would be a very different place and maybe not even exist.

Like the name suggests, the gardens focus on desert plants and other adapted to arid conditions such as agave and cacti. Although there are many that are native to the Phoenix area, the plants come from all over the world. Places like Australian, Baja California, and South America have an arid environment and their fauna show up in the garden collections.

You can see that Papago Park is a great asset for the Phoenix Metro area. It is a great place to have fun with the family and you can really get some wonderful photographs there.

Next w, move to the other side of Phoenix:

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