Because our car broke down (see previous post), we had nearly two weeks in Phoenix, AZ. The views on the plane ride were fabulous!
We were extremely lucky that we were able to stay with Graham’s (ridiculously busy) grandparents for the first week. We rented a car during this time so we were mobile.
I loved getting to know one side of Graham’s grandparents and enjoying their “home away from home”.
We then joined up with my parents who were on their own 3-states-in-3-months roadtrip. With them, we enjoyed hiking the Echo Canyon Trail, saw a hole in a rock, drove out to see Saguaro National Park near Tucson, and drove to Goldfield on the way to the Apache Trail. Sedona and the Grand Canyon will be saved for another post.
Camelback Mountain (Echo Canyon Trail)
This is a somewhat challenging 2.3 mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 1200 feet. I have to say it was one of the most fun hikes I’ve been on in a while. I can compare it to Ha Ling Peak just outside of Canmore, AB – steep climbs and great views.
It’s literally a hole in a rock caused by erosion. The natives used to determine equinoxes & solstices with it, so it’s full of history. Somehow, it’s a fairly big attraction to see.
Saguaro National Park
We drove southeast for two hours to go and check out a park full of cacti. I’m not sure it’s worth a four hour drive, but if you’re in the area, definitely go and check it out. Make sure your first stop is the visitor’s center as you learn a lot about the cacti and how important this plant truly is to the desert.
Goldfield sits on a hill near the Superstition Mountains and Goldfield Mountains and was a bustling town that had struck gold in 1892 (worth an apparent $3 million back in the day). A “break in the gold vein” and the dropping grade of ore caused the town to die. Now, it’s a great place to visit to see what the “Wild West” was like back in the day. People wear outfits, you can tour the mine and the town, and, apparently, there’s even a real gun fight (which we didn’t see).
This road (just outside of Phoenix) used to be a stagecoach trail that ran through the Superstition Mountains. It was named the Apache Trail after the Apache Indians who originally used this trail to move through the Superstition Mountains (Wikipedia). Most of it is paved now, but there are about 40 miles of unpaved, super windy and tight roads. Not for the faint of heart, nor for rainy weather, but spectacular views when the weather is great!
At one point, the road got really steep and curvy!
It seems like Phoenix is one of those cities where you really have to look to find things to do, other than golf, though there are plenty of parks and hikes around it. It’s full of retired people (and that’s great community!), but I didn’t feel drawn to it. I’m glad we have an “in” to escape to, if need be.