Contemporary Phoenix, which is the sixth-largest city in the nation, cherishes its desert, water supply, sunshine, and famous leisure lifestyle. A fine climate translates into the good life. With 3,177,016 acres of city, state, and county parks; federal lands; and freshwater lakes within one hour’s drive, play’s the thing in Phoenix. Outdoor sports are de rigueur here. People jog, climb, swim, and bike all year long. Everyone who stays comes to appreciate the natural setting. Those who didn’t know a maple from an oak tree when they lived “back East” move to Phoenix and become connoisseurs of cactus. In the old legend, the Phoenix bird spread her wings and rose from the ashes.
Today’s version stars its own legendary “bird”—the construction crane. The city is growing fast. Some look at the spread-out shape of Phoenix and call it “urban sprawl.” Others smile and say that’s what they moved west for—space. Even with all the development, there’s plenty of room here. The 13,000-acre South Mountain Park is the largest municipally owned facility in the world. Squaw Peak, the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, and North Mountain Parks each provide many more thousands of This chapter from the DayTrips series describes many fascinating, exciting, (and many free of charge) things to do, most within a two-hour drive of Phoenix, Tucson, or Flagstaff.
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