BEST URBAN PARK - 2006
Papago Park/Tempe Town Lake complex
With its otherworldly sandstone buttes, Papago Park has anchored the city of Phoenix park system since 1959. Papago's trails are generally easy treks with little elevation gain, making it a great place for a family hike or to hone your mountain-biking skills. The park covers 1,200 acres and has numerous picnic sites with ramadas, tables, grills, water and electricity. The park also contains fishing lagoons and bike paths as well as the Phoenix Zoo, Arizona Desert Botanical Garden, a fire museum, and the challenging Papago Golf Course. Two of east Phoenix's best-known landmarks are in the park: Hole-in-the-Rock, a natural geologic formation; and Hunt's Tomb, a white pyramid burial place of Arizona's first governor. The park shares a border with Tempe's Town Lake, where you can ply your sailing skills on the river or bike and hike around the lake's perimeter. The Town Lake hosts events ranging from rock shows to national beach volleyball competitions as well as amazing fireworks shows on the Fourth of July and New Year's Eve. Central Park, move over!