Another Reason I like Phoenix -- With Some Advice for Tourists

Much of Phoenix is generally pretty flat but at the same time we have peaks rising from right in the middle of the city to as high as 1400 feet above the mean ground level of the surrounding city (we are also ringed my mountains around at least three sides of the city, which is why we call ourselves the valley of the sun).  Anyway, here is a view from Camelback Mountain taken just the other day, probably the last day under 75 degrees we will have for 6 months.  This is a 360 degree panorama (you can see the same dude with bright yellow shirt on both ends).  You can click on it to get the full effect.

We took the Echo Canyon trail which is pretty challenging (there are several long stretches where one is basically climbing from rock to rock rather than just marching up a trail).  It is worth it though - it's pretty unusual to have this sort of climb and end up dead in the middle of a major city.  The one block of undeveloped space at the right end of the picture is actually prime real estate and would be all city-fied were it not for the fact that it is Native American tribal land, one of the fortunate tribes (unlike the Navajo) who were shoved onto cr*p land but land which eventually ended up near a major city and so became valuable.

Ironically, while most cities don't have any feature like this, we have at least two:  Not even 5 miles away is Piestewa Peak that is just a few feet shorter, has an easier trail, and oddly has a totally different geology (you can see it just to the left of center in this photo).  Piestewa Peak used to be known as, and is still referred to by locals, as Squaw Peak -- a name that has been officially deprecated for moderately obvious reasons of wokeness.  The city struggled for years with changing its name, not knowing what to change the name to, when opportunity emerged out of tragedy when a young, local Native American woman serving in the US Army was killed in the Middle East.  Piestewa Peak is surrounded by a large tract of open space that is hilly and largely pristine desert landscape (around the center of the photo).  It is so large that one hike in it and, despite it being right in the center of the city, one can completely lose sight of the city in all directions and really get a desert hiking experience without actually going out of town.


  1. Steve Burrows:

    I've had a great time on every visit to Phoenix, always look forward to the next trip there!

  2. AtlantaDude:

    Echo canyon train? I think you meant trail. Or hyperloop.

  3. The_Big_W:

    Last day below 75 degrees in six months?! Some of us haven’t seen any day above 75 degrees in six months...

  4. Craig:

    Another reason to like Phoenix is that it is so easy to get around (if you have a car). Major roads form 1-mile grids and the freeways are well maintained (no freezing weather helps). People do complain about traffic, but those that do have never lived where there is real traffic.

    The airport is centrally located with ample parking and good connections. It sure beats having to drive out to O'hare, Dulles, or Denver International, for example.

  5. John Moore:

    A word from those of us in Search and Rescue: be careful, be very careful any time the temperature is high, which is frequently. By high, I mean 85F or above, and it often gets above 110 and occasionally above 115.

    People die on these trails every year from heat related illnesses - usually heat stroke caused by dehydration, but also hyponatremia - adequate water but loss of electrolytes. Also, if one is entering heat exhaustion, not heat stroke, you still feel bad enough to not pay enough attention to avoid falls.

    Drink water - drink a lot of water. If you are doing much of this, take oral electrolytes (and *not* popular sports hydration drinks). Drink before you are thirsty.

    And then, enjoy. We are blessed with wonderful vistas and many miles of nearby trails, in the heart of town in the mountain preserve or Camelback Mountain, on South Mountain, and in the McDowell Mountains.

    Hint: parking at the most popular trail heads - like Echo Canyon - can be difficult. Others, such as my favorite on 40th St. south of Shea, are much easier.

  6. SamWah:

    I'm a Tucson guy. Lived there 5 years, It's a trifle bit cooler there. Grown a LOT since I left.

  7. ErikTheRed:

    San Diego has similar hiking within the city (Mission Trails Park and Cowles Mountain are two of the most popular but there are others), and the temperature seldom climbs above 90ºF.

  8. ErikTheRed:

    I'm curious to know if the risks of dehydration are improved by Tide Pod consumption. Asking for future generations.

  9. J Crain:

    Sentinel Peak represent!

    I lived in Tucson from 79 - 83 and the last time I was there (several years ago) it was 3 or 4 times the size it had been in '83.

  10. John Moore:

    Might help with the hyponatremia ;-)

  11. carol:

    I lived in Phoenix most of my life with breaks for college and military service (I'm 67). I left 12 years ago and will never live there again. It is no longer the city I grew up in. I go there to see my 91 year old mother twice a year and when she is gone I'll never go back (except maybe for my brothers' funerals if I outlive them). It is too crowded, too damned hot and polluted, the traffic is terrible and the crime is getting frightening. Apparently millions of people want to live there, but I truly don't understand it.

  12. carol:

    Carol is my wife. She's from Chicago. My name is Phil and I'm the one who grew up in Phoenix.

  13. John O.:

    I grew up in Phoenix and remember when the freeway network was barely what it is today. But I've moved to WNY where its monotonous and badly organized (everything from the planning departmetns, roads and highways to the local and state government). I can see why people want to leave WNY for better places. Once I'm on better financial footing I'd like to go back.

  14. Baelzar:

    Plain old table salt and water.

  15. John O.:

    Scottsdale and Paradise Valley have deliberately closed off new housing construction to keep their housing prices inflated. It is no joke that Scottsdale enacted the city ordinance that created the giant park in what is otherwise prime home construction area, simply to lock out the lower classes they find undesirable and it happened near the bottom of the housing market collapse.

  16. C078342:

    ANybody home?? No new content for a long time...