There is more to see at the picnic areas at Papago Park than the trail head across the street. They have ramadas both near the mountains and near the water for visitors to get out of the sun and share a meal or simply rest from the trail for a bit.
Plus, the muscovy ducks are fun to watch.
I’d like to explore the hiking trails at Papago Park next. They are all marked “easy” with slight elevation changes, from .2 miles to the 3.1 mile fitness trail. There’s the hole in the rock to see and Governor Hunt’s tomb, but the trail to his mausoleum is a bit of a climb.
Papago Park makes a great urban park. It’s a wonderful place for nearby residents to hike, mountain bike, and walk the dog. Plus, it’s a great place to watch the sunset, especially if you’re game to hike up to the top. But if you want photos of the landscape without people in them, then you might just avoid the frustration and try elsewhere.
On top of the people issues, there are signs everywhere that the park closes at sunset. For a landscape photographer looking to see what the blue hour might yield, you have to do so under constant worry that you might get a ticket for using the parking lot after sunset.
I talked to a couple hikers and they said they hadn’t had a problem, but they also acknowledged that they wouldn’t be there very long that night. With the days getting shorter, it’s getting harder to get enough time to walk before it’s too dark.
Still, sunset views like this one have the power to melt the stress of the day away.
As long as you go into it knowing you’ll get mostly “snapshots” vs. “keepers,” you’ll be happy with the views and your walk.
On the other hand, if you’re a portrait or wedding photographer, you may just love the park. In the hour before sunset, the light hits the sandstone buttes and warms everything up.
For this Phoenix destination, it’s all in what you make of it.