Trip to South Mountain

One of the best parts about living in the Phoenix area is the fact we are surrounded by these beautiful rugged mountains.  To the North are the McDowell Mountains; to the East are the Superstition Mountains; to the West is South Mountain and the Sierra Estrella range, and to the South is pretty much open land to Tucson.  To many who have flown into or visited the Phoenix area, South Mountain is one of the easiest to recognize landmarks — day or night.  At the top of South Mountain is a huge outcropping of Television and communications towers… which looks like a bundle of red Christmas lights at night.

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Not my photo – from this link.

South Mountain is also home to one of the hidden secrets of the area… the South Mountain Preserve.  Accessible only via Central Street right on the edge of Phoenix, you have to actually know where you are going to find the entrance.  It’s located behind a huge commercial street (Baseline Road) and has few signs directing people to it.  It’s in a bit of a shady part of the city… but not as bad as some.

One of the other cool things about the park is the fact that there is a fairly easy driving road to the top of the mountain.  Even better is the fact that the drive is free of charge.  The access road and all the overlooks were constructed back in the 30′s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the native stone structures in the rest areas and overlooks are very indicative of their work in other parks (Yellowstone, Letchworth Park in NY, etc).

The road is pretty narrow and has some VERY steep drop offs.  Due to the fact that I was driving our Jeep Liberty, I wasn’t able to get any good photos of this part, but the next time I visit, I will make sure to get some.

Here are some photos from the Dobson overlook… (click on images for larger).

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That is Phoenix downtown.

IMG_0004  A closer shot of downtown (no smog today)

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One of the overlook shelters (these are quite cool)

IMG_0008  Another shot of the shelter.

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Lil and I… it was really windy at the top.

One of the strange things I saw… which seems to be common in the area, is the fact there are “squatter” trinket vendors all over the outlook area.  They will take a blanket, attach various “Native American” crafts or jewelry to it, and spread it out in a parking space at the top.  Though the rules of the park forbid this, it is clearly not enforced.

We decided to travel to the other outlook by the towers at a later time as we wanted to pick up a few things at the store. It was a good little diversion that’s only about 15 minutes from the house, so we will certainly be back!

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