René O'Deay, author: Dateline: 2004

Papago Park: Phoenix Gem

Phoenix has hidden charms, one of the best is the home of the Phoenix Zoo, Papago Park, a not-so-secret local hangout. On the second weekend in February, thousands were enjoying the pleasures of the park.

Besides the zoo, there are miles of hiking & biking paths, botanical gardens, an oasis to fish, gaze at the ducks, have barbecue picnics, take photos.

Hidden behind the Zoo, three lovely ponds lined with desert palms, tables, and ramadas, with waterbirds coasting on the mirror waters.
Phoenix Oasis Birdsong and wind whispering in the fronds of palms and canes, offset the background noise of the city, planes overhead with Sky Harbor located not far to the West.

Above the zoo, just to the south of the lagoons, there's even a pyramid, a white tiled monument, tomb of the first Governor of the State of Arizona, George P.W. Hunt (1859-1934), who started his first term in 1912, the year Arizona became a state. White pyramid

Thousands attend the zoo, children in tow. The weather is perfect, cool and sunny. Giraffes pace impatiently, waiting for what?

Mountain sheep climb near the Pyramid. Long-eared rabbits run along trails.

Tourists rest tired feet as long tram-trains carry them through the exhibits.

Smell of barbecue drifts through the air, tempting one to find food, either at the picnics or the zoo food booths.

Besides, hiking, biking, scooting, there's also horesback riding, from stables not far to the south. And a Sports Complex on the northside of McDowell, with an archery range, and lighted soccer and soft ball fields.

All in all, a perfect place for family get-togethers, to take restless grandchildren bored with the city.

A Panorama of the Park, (below) showing the city surrounding it and some of the 'mountains' attracting climbers.

Papago Park panorama

René O'Deay

Author of Sun Child, Prince of Egypt, Adventures with Prince Tut.

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