We like to think we are pretty good travel planners. Now that Slaed’s mom lives in the Phoenix area, we’ve carefully selected the month of March to be our time to visit for a few days. It’s about that time where we just can’t stand the doom and gloom of Seattle, and it’s nice and warm and sunny in Phoenix in a perfect way, not a 113 degree way. It worked out so well last year. This year’s visit was another story.
For 2 out of our 4 (full) days, we were busting out the raincoats and pants instead of slathering on sunscreen and traipsing around in flip flops. You’ll be happy to know though that we didn’t retreat and spend all of our time indoors. We just altered our plans a bit, and it turns out we were able to experience something that rarely comes around in the hot, dry desert of Arizona: A waterfall. We also got to experience another Phoenix area rarity: Cool hiking temperatures.
The White Tank Mountains are located about 30 miles Northeast of Phoenix. The park is part of Maricopa County Parks and Recreation and has about 25 miles of multi-use trails. Since it was our first visit, it was getting late, and we only had a limited amount of time, we chose the short Waterfall Trail (.9 miles out to the waterfall), and instead of going straight back, we hiked part of the Black Rock long loop.
The beginning of the trail is paved, and then the path eventually turns to gravel. Bergen (18 months) hiked for a while, and when we wanted to speed up (and stop worrying about his fingers getting pricked by cactus thorns) we threw him on my back in the ergo.
We viewed petroglyphs all along the trail, and I found them fascinating. It’s believed that they are at least 700 years old and the work of the Hohokam Indians who abandoned the area around 1100 A.D. There are placards throughout attempting to explain some of the designs though no one truly knows the meaning of the various images.
After few easy steps up, we entered a box canyon that is completely dry almost 100 percent of the time. Because of all the previous day’s rain, there was a small pool of water along with a tiny trickle of a waterfall seen once we bouldered over a few rocks.
Unfortunately, I felt the footwork was a little too tricky to take Bergen along on my back, so he stayed back with Grandma while Slaed and I enjoyed the experience. The view was unexpected, and I was really surprised at the true whiteness of the canyon. The rock almost looks fabricated, but is actually white granite.
As we walked away from the canyon with the view of the valley looking towards Phoenix in the distance, we were no longer disappointed with the less than perfect weather conditions. How could we be disappointed, really. The weather played a huge factor in our unique experience, and that was just the first half of our hike! Stay turned for part two where we learned all about the native cacti of Arizona!
Info to Know:
- The White Tank Mountain Regional Park is located about 30 miles Northeast of Phoenix in Waddell, AZ.
- 20304 W. White Tank Mountain Road
Waddell, AZ 85355
- Park Hours: Sun-Thu: 6 am – 8 pm, Fri-Sat: 6 am – 10 pm
- Park Entry Fee: $6/vehicle for day use
- 20304 W. White Tank Mountain Road
- Strollers: While it wouldn’t be my first choice for transporting little ones, it is possible and doable on the Waterfall Trail. We saw a family navigating with a regular stroller just fine.
- We really didn’t need water or snacks for such a short hike given the weather conditions, but on a regular hot, sunny Arizona day, you’ll want plenty of water to keep you hydrated.
Where have you hiked in Arizona? Tell us about your experience!
For more travel and photo inspiration, go visit Budget Travelers Sandbox.