Papago Park is a hilly desert park
covering some 1,200 acres in its Phoenix extent, and some 296 acres
in its Tempe extent (the latter is also referred to specifically as
Tempe Papago Park). The park is surrounded by the cities of Phoenix,
Tempe, and Scottsdale.
Papago Park is notable for its many
distinctive geological formations and its wide variety of typical
desert plants, including the giant saguaro cactus. The park also
features the Desert Botanical Garden, a large zoo (the Phoenix Zoo),
picnic areas, several small lakes, hiking trails, bicycle paths, a
fire museum, and Hunt's Tomb, the pyramidal tomb of Arizona's first
governor, George W. P. Hunt. Tempe Papago Park includes baseball and
softball fields, picnic ramadas, a small lake, and other features.
Rolling Hills Golf Course is within the park between its Phoenix and
The distinctive red sandstone
geological formations of Papago Park were formed some 6-15 million
years ago. One such formation, Hole-in-the-Rock, is a major
landmark, thanks to the openings (tafoni) eroded in the formation
over time. There is some evidence that the Hohokam—a now-extinct
aboriginal tribe that once lived in the Phoenix area—used the
openings and sunlight to track the solstices.
There are also some
signs of Precambrian granite in the park. The bedrock is concealed
by only a thin layer of topsoil.
Papago Park was designated a
reservation for the local Maricopa and Pima tribes of aboriginal
Americans in 1879. It became the Papago Saguaro National Monument in
1914, but this status was abolished by Congress in 1930; divided
amongst the state of Arizona, the city of Tempe, the Arizona
National Guard, and the Salt River Project. During World War II, the
park housed a POW camp and contained as many as 3,100 prisoners from
1942 to 1944. It was also the site of the largest mass escape from
any United States prison camp in World War II. The Great Papago
Escape occurred on December 23, 1944 when 25 prisoners, including
German U-boat commander Jürgen Wattenberg, escaped the camp using a
178-foot tunnel and made their way to the Arizona desert. Many
prisoners quickly realized that they knew nothing about the
landscape or climate and turned themselves back in. Wattenberg was
the last to be captured, on January 28, 1945. After the war it
served as a VA hospital from 1947 to 1951, then an Army Reserve
facility. The state owned portion of the park was sold to the city
of Phoenix on February 25, 1959. A portion of the Tempe park was
conveyed to that city in 1935, and a parcel within that portion was
conveyed to the Salt River Project in 1955. An 18-hole championship
golf course was built by the city of Phoenix and completed in 1963
The park was also the finish line in the fourth season of The
The Ponds have a surface area of 6
acres with an average depth of 8 feet, the elevation of the area is
- RAMADA #2
4 Tables, Each 18' Long
Restrooms across Roadway
Available Parking: 24
- RAMADAS 9&10 Island
Stage with Grass
2 Horseshoe pits
Available Parking: 42
MAXIMUM CAPACITY: 250
NOTE: Large groups must
use Zoo Parking Lot for additional spaces.
- RAMADA #16
4 Tables Each 21' Long
Restrooms at SE end of Lake WL
MAXIMUM CAPACITY: 80
First Come First Served Ramadas
- RAMADA #11(Lake #2)
Available Parking: 20
MAXIMUM CAPACITY: 16
- RAMADA #12 (Lake #I)
1 Table, 21' Long
Available Parking: 11
MAXIMUM CAPACITY: 20
- RAMADA #13 (Lake #I)
1 Table, 21' Long
Available Parking: 42
MAXIMUM CAPACITY: 20
- RAMADA #I4
2 Tables, Each 21' Long
MAXIMUM CAPACITY: 40
- RAMADA #15
4 Tables, Each 21' Long
MAXIMUM CAPACITY: 60
*Fees listed are for Phoenix Residents. Non-Residents will pay a
fee that is 50% more.
Mountain Park Ramada Guidelines
- Reservations can also be made at any City of Phoenix
Community Center or district office. For questions contact
Natural Resources Division District Office at 602-495-5458,
Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm.
- Only one reservation per day between 8am and 6pm, per ramada
allowed. NO EXCEPTIONS.
- Beer permits are only allowed with a ramada reservation.
They cannot be sold separately for the parks and preserves. A
beer permit is required for consumption of beer at the ramadas.
Hard liquor or glass containers are not permitted in any city
park. Permit holder must be present. Beer permits are
- No amplified music/sound (PA Systems, music, microphones,
etc) is permitted in the mountain preserve ramadas.
- No bounce houses are allowed in the parks and preserves.
- The permit and a responsible party (18 years of age or
older) must be on-site when the ramada is being used. The permit
holder will leave the ramada in a clean and neat condition. The
total reserved time includes any time needed by the permittee
for set up and cleans up.
- Ramada Reservations are not allowed more than 6 months out
and only 3 reservations in a 3 month period are allowed per
person or group. Reservations must be made 48 hours in advance.
- Special events such as runs, walks, etc. must be coordinated
with the individual Park Supervisors.
- Some ramadas are first come, first serve and do not require
a reservation. (Please refer to the area to the left - middle
section for information). Parks containing ramadas not listed
are not available for reservation and are first come first
- Maximum capacity guidelines for each area will be strictly
- Ramadas are not reservable on Easter but are first come,
- Parks and ramadas are closed on Memorial Day, Independence
Day and Labor Day holidays. No reservations or park visitors are
allowed that day.
- Smoking is not allowed outside of vehicles.
- Observe fire and grilling restrictions during Fire Ban
- No dunk tanks, piñatas, confetti or inflatables are allowed
in mountain parks.
- Ramadas can be decorated, however the use of tape, nails or
staples are prohibited.
- Catering is permitted at reservable ramadas, however the
caterers must be made aware that all that is brought in must be
removed. No dumping of waste or trash is allowed in the parks
and preserves. Food must be prepared off site as there are no
- Only parking lots may be used for loading an unloading.
Vehicles may not be driven or parked on turf areas, sidewalks,
service driveways, or emergency zones. Parking lots may not be
used as serving areas from catering vehicles. Unloaded trailers
must park in the remote parking lots. Parking is limited and not
guaranteed for ramada reservations.
- Some ramadas may have electrical outlets and water, however
electricity and water are not guaranteed.
- Domestic animal owners must comply with the park rules and