Best West-Side Park (2002)

The White Tank Mountain Regional Park

A stunning stand of increasingly rare saguaro cactus welcomes visitors to Maricopa County's largest park, totaling 29,217 acres of rugged mountains with ragged ridges separated by deep canyons. Infrequent, heavy rains pouring down chutes and plunging over cliffs have scoured out a series of depressions in white granite -- creating a series of "tanks."

About 21 miles of trails are available for mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking with difficulty ranging from easy to strenuous. The Waterfall Trail offers .4 mile of barrier-free access to the Petroglyph Plaza.

The park has a unique 10-mile "competitive track" designed for cross-country runners and joggers, endurance bike riders and galloping equestrians. Family and group camping sites are available on first-come basis for $10 a night. The park is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. with a $5-per-vehicle entry fee.

The White Tanks provide a priceless respite from the relentless expansion of the metropolitan area that is now lapping up against the park's eastern and northern boundaries.

To get there, exit on Cotton Lane from Interstate 10 and go north to Olive Road. Go west on Olive to the park entrance.


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