Time to Play
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
South Mountain Park
Best Hikes in the Valley of the Sun
Accessible parks, peaks, and preserves in and around Phoenix provide a playground for everyone. By Tara Titcombe
ILLUSTRATION BY EVA VÁSQUEZ
A year and a half ago, I traded the towering hardwood trees of central North Carolina for the sandstone mountains and saguaro cactuses of Phoenix. I’ve found that the only thing better than staring in awe at the mountains is looking down at the vast city — the sixth largest in the country — from the top of them. And I quickly discovered that the rugged outdoors here is best experienced on the area’s myriad hiking trails. No matter your preferences or ﬁtness level, there’s a trail that’s right for you.
I still remember the ﬁrst time a mountain made me dizzy. I wasn’t even climbing it. I was driving on I-10 through Phoenix. Staring out at the peaks surrounding me, my eyes widened and I felt my stomach ﬂutter. My only thought: I can’t believe I live here.
Just east of the Phoenix airport, Papago Park is a special place. On my ﬁrst visit, my jaw dropped. The park’s massive sandstone buttes arrayed with
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of US Airways - February 2013