Phoenix, Arizona is the largest city in the state with over 1.5 million people who call this place home. The climate here is hot and dry with a very short wet season each year that typically lasts 4 months.
The city was built around a Central Park type of vision by incorporating large swaths of open space into the early city plan design. This has lead to many parks and recreational areas throughout the Phoenix Metro area which are maintained by City Parks & Recreation Department or “Parks & Rec” as it’s locally known among residents and visitors alike.
Phoenix has an extensive system of bike paths with both on street lanes along major arterials and dedicated trails in several of their larger park systems, great for walking, jogging, biking or even horseback riding if you are into that sort of thing.
Most of the city parks in Phoenix have free public access, though some also allow access to non-residents for a fee on a per use basis. These fees typically go towards the upkeep and improvements required to maintain these park facilities as they aren’t part of the City tax base but instead rely on user fees collected from visitors and other private organizations who house special events like weddings, dances or fundraisers at their venues.
No matter what type of outdoor recreation activity you enjoy, you’ll probably find something close by in one of the many lovely locales maintained by Parks & Rec for your family to enjoy.
South Mountain Park
Biggest City Park In The World
The largest city park in the world has to be South Mountain Park. This preserve is located in the southwestern corner of Phoenix and contains over 16,000 acres of natural desert terrain that is used by all for hiking, biking, horseback riding, ATVing and more. The State Land Department manages this vast area which lies just a few miles from downtown Phoenix.
A highlight of any visit to this park is taking a ride on an authentic Arizona Steam Train that operates along a rail line built during WW2 as part of a project by the US Army Corps Of Engineers. This train runs every Sunday from December through April but you can catch it almost any day during special events like Spring Training Baseball or State Fair time when they have various themed rides and activities going on.
South Mountain Park also has some of the best rock climbing in the valley, but only for those with the proper training and equipment. This is an advanced outdoor pursuit requiring a lot of technical skills to safely manage on your own so please don’t try to go it alone if you are not experienced.
If you want to try something casual, but just as adventurous then check out the South Mountain Zipline Adventure in the park. This is a great way to get your feet off the ground while still being safe and having fun at the same time with an experienced guide leading the way.
There are also many trails throughout this huge urban park including some that will take you all the way up to one of Phoenix’s highest peaks where you’ll have breathtaking views of both city lights below and mountains above.
Phoenix North Gateway Park
This lovely park system has almost 1,000 acres of land set aside for public enjoyment within a stone throw distance from downtown Phoenix. The longest trail here stretches nearly 5 miles along bird watching ponds, elevated boardwalks and through some pristine desert scenes along the way.
Other highlights of this lovely park include a large dog park, mini golf course, picnic areas near a small lake, ball fields and plenty of open space for flying kites or playing outdoor games like Ultimate Frisbee.
The Gateway Trail that’s used to access most parts of this system spans about 18 miles in length including several spurs leading off into side trails that will take you to other nearby destinations or back towards one of the onramps for easy access to any street in the valley.
Phoenix Papago Park
If you have an interest in ancient cultures then a visit to Papago Park is worth your time indeed! This massive urban park not only saguaro cacti and beautiful desert landscapes, but also contains some of the best preserved ancient petroglyphs in all of North America.