Yesterday the parking lot was empty. As I was getting out of my car, a white SUV pulled up and a woman jumped out looking a little desperate. “Is there a restroom here?” she asked. I told her it looked like the center was closed but that she was welcome to check. I walked over to the entrance where a sheet of paper said Center Closed. The woman hurried by again. She said she was from Minnesota where there is currently nineteen inches of snow on the ground. I was able to offer that there were restrooms a little further down the main road. Hopefully they are still functioning as I had not driven that far. I only passed through the main gates where there was no attendant offering maps of the park like there used to be.
Another vehicle pulled up and three adults and two children spilled out. They were also out of town visitors and asked me if I knew where the Bonita trailhead was. So I walked with them back to the big plexiglass map and showed them they needed to drive on up to the top of the mountain to access that trail, and assured them it is a gorgeous hike and great for kids. I was leaving the parking lot when another car full of people drove in.
This is spring training season, and the city is full of out-of-towners from cold parts of the country who have come to Phoenix for baseball, sun, and to enjoy the desert. I am sure that many of the hotels and resorts send these visitors to South Mountain Park as it is famous for its size and its desert beauty. What a shame that when they arrive they are greeted only by shuttered facilities.