|South Mountain Park|
South Mountain Park, at nearly 17,000 acres, is the nation’s largest municipal park. The rugged desert mountain terrain, with easy access from the City of Phoenix, provides scenic mountain vistas. The park also offers an environmental education center, guided programs, several picnic areas, exte...
Lake Pleasant Regional Park
|Description: One of the most scenic water recreation areas in the “Valley of the Sun,” this northwest Valley park offers many activities, including wildlife viewing. At the Lake Pleasant Visitor Center, guests learn about the history of the area and desert wildlife through interpretive programs and wildlife displays. The balcony offers a beautiful view of Lake Pleasant and an up-close look at Waddell Dam. Nestled in beautiful paloverde and saguaro studded desert, it is just a short drive north from the Phoenix metropolitan area.|
Wildlife to Watch: Deer, javelina, coyote, foxes, gray squirrel, Harris’ antelope squirrel, and multiple bird species including peregrine falcon and nesting bald eagles in the winter and spring are main wildlife attractions. The lake’s quieter coves attract a variety of migratory and wintering waterfowl, grebes, and other waterbirds such as herons, egrets, cormorants, and gulls. Flocks of American white pelicans and the occasional brown pelican (late summer) stop by the lake during migration. Common desert birds surrounding the lake include gilded flicker, Gila and ladder-backed woodpeckers, Costa’s hummingbird, ash-throated and brown-crested flycatchers, verdin, black-tailed gnatcatcher, cactus and rock wrens, curve-billed thrasher, phainopepla, and black-throated sparrow. The taller and denser vegetation found in desert washes is also attractive to many migrating warblers, tanagers, grosbeaks, and orioles. In addition, multiple reptiles inhabit the area, including desert tortoise, desert spiny lizard, zebra-tailed lizard, coachwhip, common kingsnake, and speckled and western diamond-backed rattlesnakes.
Other Activities: Lake Pleasant Regional Park offers over 4 miles of trails, ranging in length from 0.5 mile to 2 miles, and easy to moderate in difficulty. The Pipeline Canyon Trail includes a floating bridge for use during high water levels. The Visitor Center Trail is a 1/2, easy trail with interconnecting loops and interpretive signage. The Roadrunner Trail is a scenic 1.5-mile trail provides excellent views of Lake Pleasant.
Ownership: Maricopa County Parks
Size: 24,000 acres
Closest Town: Peoria
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: