Famous park needs friends

South Mountain park showcases the lush Sonoran Desert

Yesterday I drove over to the South Mountain Park main entrance on Central Avenue to see what was going on at the South Mountain Environmental Center. I’ve tried to reach them by phone and received a disconnect recording, which was hard to believe. I’ve visited the Environmental Center in the past and it is a beautiful building tucked up near the mountain, with clean modern lines that complement the spare desert setting. At that time rangers staffed the counter, answering questions about hikes, geology and the flora and fauna of the area. A large three dimensional map of the mountain ranges dominated the room and outside an attractive courtyard showcased the various native plants of the region. The center provided frequent educational and interpretive programs to acquaint folks with the wonders of the Sonoran Desert.
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.

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3 responses to “Famous park needs friends

  1. That’s a shame. South Mountain needs friends with money! I love SMP…it’s where I grew my hiking legs!

  2. More job cuts! RB…

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