Tag Archives: Hole in the Rock

Return to Hole in the Rock


A year ago I went to Hole in the Rock, an interesting sandstone formation in Papago Park. That was when I was still suffering from arthritis pain (before my hip replacement) and was unable to climb to the top.

Now that I’m bionic and healed and going hiking once a week, I decided to go back and try again.


This is considered rather an easy trail, but it was still challenging for me. You walk around the back side of the mountain. Steps are built into the path and edged with rock. There were quite a few people there. Children scampered past me. So did parents carrying toddlers.


From the back, this is what the mountain looks like:


When I look at the steepness of it, I can’t believe I climbed up there. When I got to the opening, though, I couldn’t make myself descend the little stairs cut into the rock that lead into the chamber. Look for yourself–see them at the lower right corner of the picture below? I think part of my problem was that just out of sight on the left was a group of people enjoying the view and I didn’t want them to see me tumble down. (Although, if you’re going to fall on a hike like this, you want to do it when there are people around to help you.) Another consideration was that I had an expensive camera around my neck that I didn’t want to bang up.


Here’s what the view from the top looks like through the hole:


And here’s the view looking out from the back side, Camelback Mountain in the distance:


Someday I’m going back with a little more experience and without my camera so that I can really experience Hole in the Rock the way the Native Americans did.

Hole in the Rock: Papago Park, Phoenix AZ


If it weren’t for the cacti and other vegetation, you might think you were on the moon, due to the unearthly sandstone formations scattered about Papago Park, a unique hiking destination minutes away from downtown Phoenix.

The property that is now Pagago Park was designated a reservation for the Maricopa and Pima tribes in 1879. In 1932, a bass hatchery was located there as part of the Works Progress Administration projects following the Great Depression.

From 1942 to 1944, Papago Park housed a World War II prisoner of war camp, where over 3,000 mostly German soldiers were detained. On December 23, 1944, 25 prisoners escaped. After a few days trying to survive in the desert, they turned themselves in.


One of my biggest surprises, when we moved to Arizona nearly 30 years ago, was that the desert is quite green. Not only do cacti grow there, but also bushes and trees.



The picture below shows a view of the iconic Camelback Mountain in nearby Scottsdale. See the camel’s head and hump?

Haze hangs over the city (just barely visible on the horizon, below) due to “inversion,” which causes particulates (dust) in the air to be trapped near the surface because of the surrounding mountains.

Throughout the park, scattered ramadas shelter picnic tables.

How does a bush grow right out of the rock?

The roads and parking in the park are well-planned and partially hidden by vegetation in some places. You don’t have to walk very far to feel all alone in the desert. Two other major attractions, the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Garden, are also located in the park. Literally hundreds of people come to the park every day.


Hmm. Fred Flintstone’s couch?

The trail up to Hole in the Rock. I have hip issues, so I didn’t go all the way up. It’s not too hard, but it’s a little steep for an old lady not at her best.

Remember about ten years ago when everyone was worried about the killer bees coming north from South America? Guess where they settled. Yep. Arizona became home to a large percentage of the unwanted immigrant bees. They’ve interbred with the local bees and are less threatening now than they used to be. I haven’t heard of a death in a long time, but for a while, a few people and dogs were severely stung every year.


See the little triangle shape at the top of the hill below? George Hunt, Arizona’s first governor, is buried in the pyramid-shaped tomb.


One of the favorite attractions in the park is Hole in the Rock, pictured below. The ancient Hohokam people who lived here before the time of Christ used this structure as a solstice observatory, keeping track of the sun’s trajectory by making marks in the sandstone. Two and a half miles to the southeast are ruins of a Hohokam village know as Pueblo Grande, where there is a ceremonial mound. Atop the mound is a building with a door in the southeast corner which lets in the rays of the summer solstice sunrise, and the last rays of the winter solstice sunset. The door also is in perfect alignment with the Hole in the Rock. Coincidence, or a sophisticated feat of engineering?