South Mountain Park is located between Downtown Phoenix and Ahwatukee to the south and Laveen to the west with I-10 to the east. The mountainous area covers over sixteen thousand acres and is the not only the largest municipal park in Arizona but in the entire United States.

I like to go there to see the blooming native desert vegetation. You can find saguaro and compass barrel cacti, ocotillos, and Palo Brea trees. I often see coyotes and desert hares moving through the vegetation and rocks. South Mountain Park is also known for its significant chuckwalla population. These lizards are quite large and will startle you if you spook them and they tear off into hiding. There also are several different kinds of snakes there, including rattlesnakes. They have an information building that is a great resource to knowing more about South Mountain Park.

Pink blooms on cacti at the base of South Mountain in PhoenixBack in the early 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the original park infrastructure and you can still see evidence of that. But, there are some new event ramadas scattered throughout the desert landscape.  They often have events going on like family reunions and birthday parties. I think you have to call ahead of time to make a reservation. It is not first come first serve.  Contact me if you want to learn more about South Mountain activities.

You can cycle, hike and horseback ride along the many trails. Some are easy enough but there are many difficult trails too. So, be forewarned!  It is easy to get stuck if you get exhausted, especially if you did not take enough water to drink.

I recommend driving up to the lookout point. It sits over 1000 feet above the City of Phoenix and gives you an impressive view of the desert floor and cityscape. As the sky is generally clear most days in the Valley, you can usually see for miles and miles from the top of the mountain. You can see the surrounding cities like Glendale, Avondale, and Tempe.

As with any outdoor adventure in the desert, make sure you take a lot of water to drink. I carry a water bottle with me and have extras in my vehicle just in case. You need to be very careful as you hike because there are thorny and prickly plants that can poke and cut you. The rocks on the trail can be loose and easy to trip over. Sometimes rocks from above will fall too. Then, of course, there are poisonous snakes in the area and scorpions that have a mean sting.

Another Phoenix Point of Interest:

I found this video of South Mountain that you might find interesting:

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