By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 8/19/2019
Occurred: 10/31/2015
Topics/Keywords: #WhiteTankMountainRegionalPark #Hiking #Arizona #Travel Page Views: 988
All the photos from today's hike in White Tank Mountain Regional Park.

Since, by some miracle, I had a little money left over this month—even after buying little boxes of raisins to give out for Halloween—I talked Keith into taking a little drive West to the White Tank Mountain Regional Park, where I hoped to take him on his first hike along Waterfall Trail.

Waterfall Trail is just a mile long (and one-way; you'll be retracing your steps to return to your car), and there is no great change in elevation, so it counts as a middling-easy hike.

After refreshing ourselves in the facilities, we paid our $6 admission fee and proceeded into the park.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park

The parking area for Waterfall Trail is clearly marked, and includes a clean, water-flushed restroom. (Many restrooms in Arizona are pit or vault toilets to accommodate the fact that this is, after all, a desert.) The trail is also clearly marked, and the first 4/10 mile of it is broad and accessible to people with disabilities as it's wide and flat enough for a wheelchair or electric scooter.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park

The air was unusually clear today, probably because of rains we had yesterday and the day before. That gave me hopes the waterfall at the end of the trail would actually be running. But whether it was or not, the view in every direction was nothing short of spectacular.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park White Tank Mountain Regional Park view of Phoenix

About 500 years ago, the Hohokam people lived here. They liked to draw on rocks.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park petroglyphs

But they weren't the first. Earlier peoples, called today Meso-Indians. Some of the petroglyphs are theirs, but most are believed to be Hohokam.

Keith photographing White Tank Mountain Regional Park petroglyphs

The Pima Natives now indigenous to this area gave the Hohokam their name, which means something like Used Up People.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park
White Tank Mountain Regional Park

The hillsides are simply dotted with saguaro, enough to possibly count as a saguaro forest.

Paul at White Tank Mountain Regional Park

But then the more sedate nature trail came to an end, with the final 6/10s of a mile getting steeper—not very steep, but steep enough to discourage most wheelchair drivers. The trail also narrows somewhat, as the walls of Waterfall Canyon start to close in.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park
White Tank Mountain Regional Park White Tank Mountain Regional Park
White Tank Mountain Regional Park White Tank Mountain Regional Park

Well, the waterfall was dry again this time (as it's been every other time I visited). The only water left after the rain was in the basin at the foot of the dried cascade.

Keith found a wavy-line petroglyph. "It's not a snake," he said. "There are snakes all over the place here, and wouldn't have required attention enough to make all that carving worth the effort. It's actually a warning that a dragon lives here. Dragons are known to live in pools of still water."

Keith at White Tank Mountain Regional Park

As a Navajo, Keith is privy to lots of information that anthropologists haven't thought to ask. He was quick to point out, however, that Navajo are not indigenous to the Phoenix area. Still, there are many concepts that were generally known to the pre-Columbian peoples who lived across the continent.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park

This is an ironwood tree. It's one of the four major types of tree in the White Tanks. The others are the green-barked palo verde, the sticky creosote, and the prickly saguaro, which is also our state tree.