AZentertain: Tour

Travel to Phoenix West Valley

By Jeff Reed

Looking for something interesting to do with the houseguests who always find themselves in your spare bedroom this time of year?  Let me suggest a one-day road trip to the west side of our valley. 

If you havenít been out to this area for a while, you will be amazed and this spring there is much to see and appreciate.  With the run off of the Salt River this season, the area is just beautiful. 

First, lets explore the riparian areas, south of I 10 and north of the Estrella Mountain Range.  This is where the Gila River flows year round and right now, it is definitely, springtime in the desert.  I am most impressed with the water birds, the Herons and Egrets that are hanging out on the banks of the Gila River. 

I have learned that many of us donít know that the Gila River flows year round and that you can actually drive into the area.  If you know where Phoenix International Raceway is, then you can certainly find some side roads that will take you to the banks of the Gila River.

Since we are exploring the entire west valley today, then jump back on one of the major streets in the west valley, such as Baseline Road, or get back on Interstate 10 and head west. 

If you see something of interest just stop to enjoy, but our next scheduled stop is the World Wildlife Zoo.  Along the way, you will notice that where we once farmed cotton, we now harvest red tile roofs.  Donít get discouraged, because as development has moved into the west valley, our farms have simply moved farther out.  They are still operating and this area has some very interesting crops this time of year.  Keep your eyes peeled for fields of rose bushes and grape vines in the area. 

Stay with your trek west to Cotton Lane, and turn north there.  Someday, this will be the home of the Outer Loop 303, but for now it is just a little short cut to Wickenburg. 

The World Wildlife Zoo is located on the 303 and Northern Avenue.  If you didnít bring a picnic, then you might want to stop for a little lunch at the zoo and a walk about.  If you like zoos then this is a very nice one to enjoy.  One of the highlights right now is the white tiger cub, and they are adorable.

If you brought a picnic, then stay on the 303 to Olive and turn west again.  Now, you are heading into the White Tank Mountains and a fabulous State Park. 

If you are a hiker there is a three-mile hike to a waterfall that is active right now.  Anyway you go however, this is a great time to drive through the park and enjoy the spring flowers, especially the lupine and desert mallow. 

What a great day, exploring the west valley.  If you still have time, drive over to the 101 (Agua Fria Freeway) and explore this region.  Skunk Creek is flowing, and Lake Pleasant is still releasing some water into the Central Arizona Project, and this means that the flowers are also beautiful in this area.  On your way home, check out the progress being made on the Cardinal Stadium.  The roof has been lifted into place, and this really gives the stadium a sense of size.

Jeff Reed is a retired Gerontologist, who has owned a private travel club for senior citizens in Arizona since 1984.  He has traveled more than 900,000 miles on escorted tours just in the State of Arizona.  You can reach him at [email protected] or leave him a voice message at 480-497-2478. His web site is

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