[Source: Barbara Braidwood and Rick Cropp, Canwest News Service] — Phoenix, Ariz.: yes, you can golf, shop, or watch professional sports until you can’t stuff in another hot dog, or hit the culture trail of art galleries and theatres until your eyeballs hang on your sunburned cheeks. But a different view of Phoenix comes from the air, the fringes of the city or even from underground. When you need a break from all the good food, sports, and golf, take a balloon ride, dig up a little history, drive out, way out, into the desert, or climb a mountain.
Phoenix really did rise above the remains of another civilization, and traces of the 3,000-year-old Hohokam people — who disappeared around AD 1500 — remain. Beneath the downtown Phoenix Convention Center are the remains of about 40 Hohokam pit houses and hundreds of items recovered during the construction are on display. Afterwards, go to the nearby Phoenix Museum of History for a view of the city’s history up to the present day.
Unlike Canada, where trees and brush so often obscure your view, with any elevation at all in Phoenix you can see for miles. The city has mountains on two sides and a hump in the middle called Camelback Mountain. Camelback’s sheer red sandstone cliffs can be circumvented or challenged with trails to the top (350 metres above the desert), where there is a spectacular outlook. The easy trails at the bottom are a stroll for anyone with a good pair of walking shoes, but the top is a bit of a struggle. Mountains at the edges of the city are higher and offer much more diversity, from really easy to death-defying trails. The North Mountain Visitor Center has exhibits illustrating the Sonoran Desert’s richness as well as maps of hiking trails snaking around the more-than-600-metre mount. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]