A Rare Waterfall Viewing in Arizona’s White Tank Mountains

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.

Waterfall Trail White Tanks Regional Park Arizona

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.

 Petroglyphs White Tank Mountains Arizona

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.

Box Canyon Waterfall Trail White Tanks Regional Park

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.

Box Canyon Waterfall Trail White Tanks Arizona

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.

Box Canyon View White Tank Mountains

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
  • 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!

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Box Canyon White Tank Mountains


16 thoughts on “A Rare Waterfall Viewing in Arizona’s White Tank Mountains

    • Thank you! Yes, it’s amazing how much beauty and nature is surrounding Phoenix, and it’s nice to have the contrast of landscape to our usual Western Washington. We have so many ideas for our next visit to “Gramma’s”.

  1. The cooler temperatures would be perfect for hiking. It is always nice when it rains where it is usually parched for it. I don’t think I have ever seen white granite. Glad your stay wasn’t a washout and thank goodness for Grandma. I love the road photo with cactus. It sets the scene well.

    • Yes, we felt very lucky actually (despite being bummed about the rain) that we could hike in such comfortable conditions. “…thank goodness for Grandma”—You said it! A whole different experience with an extra set of hands with us! I wish we lived closer. Thanks for stopping by the blog & for your comment!

    • Yes, you really wouldn’t expect that, and we certainly didn’t expect to have rain during our visit. August…ugg! I don’t know how my mother-in-law does it! I guess that’s when she comes to visit us in Seattle when the weather is perfect!

    • Yes, it’s a great hike, and a beautiful park! I hope to explore it much more when we visit again. Nice to have a place & someone to visit in Scottsdale–we didn’t stop there this time, though we caught a Spring Training game there during our visit last year.
      I will definitely look into the Apache Trail–thanks so much for your suggestion. Have you hiked camelback?

    • The petroglyphs were fascinating to me…so amazing to think they are hundreds and hundreds of years old & still visible. Yes, I definitely wanted you readers to know that we like to get out and be adventurous when our boy, but we’re not too crazy! Again, thank goodness for Grandma 🙂 Thanks for stopping by & for your comment!

  2. I guess the upside of not having great weather is being able to actually see the waterfall! I’m quite surprised to actually see white granite in Arizona – the parts of the state that I have seen are all so red! Would love to see the petroglyphs – fascinating!!

  3. Pingback: Arizona’s White Tank Mountains: A Lesson in Native Cacti | Wild Tales of...

  4. Pingback: Phoenix, AZ Rainy Day Adventure: Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium | Wild Tales of...

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