On a small sandstone hill in Papago Park is a distinctive geological formation known as the Hole in the Rock. This intriguing red mound is 6 to 15 million years old. Visit this incredible natural site, learn about its history and enjoy the view.
Notice the number of large holes in the rock. These are natural openings called tafoni and were most likely caused by the erosive action of water. Historians believe that the Hohokam, the prehistoric people of the Sonoran Desert, used the rock formation as a calendar. They are thought to have marked changing seasons by tracking the movement of sunlight on the floor as it passed through the holes.
Hike up to the rock via one of the paths. It only takes a few minutes, but be careful because it is quite steep and the rock underfoot is crumbly in places. One of the easiest routes is via the manmade steps on the eastern side of the hill. Between June and September, it is best to make this trek early in the morning to avoid the summer heat.
Once you are at the top, climb within the main chamber inside the rock where you will easily be able to stand at full height. Take advantage of the elevation to admire views of the park. In the distance, you can see western Phoenix and the mountains that tower above the city.
The Hole in the Rock is located on the east side of Papago Park, close to the main entrance. Just follow the signs. The 1,500-acre (600-hectare) park is approximately 7 miles (11 kilometers) east of downtown Phoenix. There is no public transportation access but on-site car parking is free.
Papago Park is open daily from sunrise to sunset and is free to enter. Explore the rest of the park during your visit. Catch trout in the Fishing Lagoon, make use of the picnic facilities and hike other interesting trails. While you are in Phoenix, enjoy more of its attractions, including the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Garden.