McDowell Sonoran Preserve
The rather aptly named community of McDowell Mountain Ranch is situated in the foothills of the gorgeous McDowell Mountains, adjacent to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The Preserve, when completed, will protect over 36,000 acres of desert and will be the largest urban preserve in the country.
Visitors and hikers enter the Preserve through the Gateway east of Thompson Peak Parkway and north of Bell Road. The Gateway serves as the major base station for the Preserve, with parking, restrooms, shade ramadas and even a complete equestrian staging area. The Gateway is also home to many of the Preserve’s outreach and educational opportunities. It’s anticipated that the Gateway will eventually be expanded to include a more complete Desert Discovery Center, which will have permanent exhibits and feature interactive environmental experiences.
The Preserve itself is a hiker’s paradise. The nearly endless series of trails range in difficulty from easy to expert, and are a great way to stay in touch with Arizona’s natural beauty. Hikers can find trail guides and tips on the City’s website.
The McDowell Sonoran Conservancy is the non-profit organization charged with stewardship of the entire Preserve. As part of it’s educational mandate, it offers classes throughout the year for any age group or experience level. Topics range from desert animals to plant life to ecology and sustainability. They also host athletic competitions and the occasional concert. You can find a complete list of all classes and events Sonoran Conservancy’s site.
One of the main reason people love Scottsdale is the proximity to both urban luxuries and the wild desert beauty. Be sure to check out the Preserve; it’s just next to the Ranch and perhaps one of the more amazing assets we have to offer!