One day while we were in Phoenix, Judy and I decided to take a walk in Papago Park. This is a place that is close to the center of town and offers fairly easy walking trails. At the same time, it offers some remarkable views.
The trails encircle a series of buttes formed of red sandstone, which to me have an almost Martian aura.
Before you get to the buttes, though, you pass by a number of other attractions, including the Phoenix Zoo and a couple of ponds where fishing is allowed.
There’s also a half-mile nature walk. It’s OK, but not too exciting. It did enable me to learn the names of a few desert plants, like the aptly named Hedgehog Cactus, above.
We didn’t catch the name of this plant, but I thought it was pretty cool. Are those actual blooms or just the remains of the flowers?
Another of the park’s popular spots is Hole-in-the-Rock, famous as a place to view desert sunsets. However, it looked like there were so many people up there that Judy and I decided to give it a pass.
Instead we set off from the less-crowded Papago West Trailhead. There are paved and unpaved walking paths.
So odd to see this landscape dotted with shrubs and cactus but mostly barren. I always thought that every niche gets filled with some kind of plant – botany abhors a vacuum – but this does not necessarily apply in the desert.
Though there were spots that looked greener than I expected due to all of this year’s December rains, especially where water naturally collects.
Another view of the buttes. From a distance they looked like they would crumble if you stepped on them, but we did see people climbing up to the tops.
The Saguaro Cacti here were smaller than those we saw elsewhere, but they were still very atmospheric.
A nice thing about this hike is that you can feel you are some distance from the city, then arrive at more of an urban panorama.
The Phoenix area contains massive urban to exurban sprawl, but there are still places close by that have a hint of wildness.