View from the hole in the rock

Look through the rock to see Phoenix, or at least the Phoenix Zoo and a bit of the city and mountains beyond.

Look through the rock to see Phoenix, or at least the Phoenix Zoo and a bit of the city and mountains beyond.

Way up at the top of this rock is a hole, two actually. And you can climb up to take a look through.

Way up at the top of this rock is a hole, two actually. And you can climb up to take a look through.

Want to climb through the hole in the rock? A newly-arrived resident of Phoenix had discovered this geological phenomenon with her friend and up they climbed. They took in the view, and then having arrived just before sunset, sat down and watched the sun sink behind the mountains in a flash of color framed by the sandstone hole.

When I went with my friend, we couldn’t stay until sunset. But our time on the rock was, nevertheless, memorable. The Hole in the Rock isn’t grand or intimidating. It’s a fun place for a quick hike, right there in view of Phoenix.

I didn't see any bees but they must have been somewhere.

I didn’t see any bees but they must have been somewhere.

The Hole in the Rock is a popular destination in Phoenix’s Papago Park. Even city slickers in flip-flops and shorts can hike this hill and enjoy a 360-degree view of Phoenix and the surrounding Sonoran Desert.

On one side of the rock is the city in the distance. On the other side, more desert.

On one side of the rock is the city in the distance. On the other side, more desert.

I saw a woman in a sari, another in a skirt, little kids and gray-haired men and women taking the smooth path around the butte to the staircase that leads up to the holes. I saw two, along with a variety of small caves cut from the rock by the wind and the rain. One hole is high and frames a bit of sky — on the day we visited, angry-looking clouds. One hole is big enough to climb through and take a look at the world around you.

Well, isn't this nice? A set of stairs leading up to the hole in the rock.

Well, isn’t this nice? A set of stairs leading up to the hole in the rock.

Erosion has caused reddish sandstone to be eroded away, forming caves and even holes.

Erosion has caused reddish sandstone to be eroded away, forming caves and even holes.

It’s part of a network of walking trails, all easy, in Papago Park. We combined our walk with a visit to the nearby Desert Botanical Garden. It’s easy to make this a day’s adventure with the Phoenix Zoo is only a parking lot away, and the other trails to explore.  I hope to be back in a flash with a picnic, lots of water, camera and binoculars. Simply breathtaking.

ⓒ Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman

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