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Hole in the Rock: Tips to Hike to this Papago Park Gem

The Hole in the Rock is a famous free attraction in Phoenix's Papago Park. It features a short hiking trail up to a rock hole that offers a great see-through view of PHX.

The hike is a short walk from the parking lot and usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes to climb. The path offers some steep sections and a few areas with steps, but if you take your time, it's pretty easy to get to the top.

It is open from 5 am to 7 pm every day all year round.

View through the Hole in the Rock Phoenix

Attraction Highlights

Here are a few highlights of visiting Hole in the Rock.

  • Located in Papago Park at 625 North Galvin Parkway.
  • It is free to park and enter it. Parking is a short walk to the start of the trail.
  • It is easy to access as it is only 5 minutes away from the Phoenix Zoo, Botanical Gardens, and Papago Ponds.
  • Open from 5 am to 7 pm, Monday to Sunday, year-round. 
  • A moderate hike would be difficult for ADA or younger kids.
  • At just over .3 miles long, it is a short trail.

More Details About Hiking the Hole in the Rock

View from the Hole Papago Park

The hike up to Hole in the Rock is on one of the most famous trails in the Phoenix metro area. The reason it's so famous is that it offers great views and it's a short, easy hike to the hole.

Even though I say it's an easy hike, it is technically considered moderate as you need to hike up a couple of short, steep sections on the trail. You will also need to climb onto the rock with the hole in it in order to see the view of PHX.

Trailhead for the Hole

The first third of a mile on this easy trail part is mostly flat and easy to manage. However, the further you hike, the harder the trail becomes due to the steep angle and the slippery, rocky areas.

The final approach to the rock offers some steps, but they are a little uneven and not your standard step size. They are easy if you have a good balance and pay special attention to your footing.

It will probably only take you about 10-15 minutes to get up to the Hole and back down using this trail. Overall, it is a pretty short hike and a quick trip.

Final Approach to the RockThis is the final section of the hike with steps (on the right) and then a few additional step steps onto the rock so you can see through the hole.

We recommend waiting to visit if it is raining or the path is wet, as this trail can be slippery. Luckily, that almost never happens in the Valley of the Sun.

According to the City of Phoenix website, which ranks all paths, this one rates as a "blue path." This means that it has elevation changes, some uneven surfaces, and about 8 inches or less of obstacles or ruts.

Attempting the path in a wheelchair or stroller is not recommended. It would be very challenging, and you may want to avoid it. 

The park is dog friendly! However, all dogs MUST always be kept on a leash.

The trailhead is easy to access from the large parking lot in front of it.

The best part is that this Phoenix attraction is FREE!

Fun Fact: The Hole in the Rock formed somewhere between 6,000,000 to 15,000,000 years ago!

Best Times to Visit

View from in front of the holeThis is the unobstructed view in front of the hole.

It is open from 5 am to 7 pm every day all year long.

In our experience, the best time to visit and the busiest is on the weekends between 5 pm and 7 pm. During the week, it's often busy from mid-afternoon until the gate closes at 7 pm.

If you want to avoid crowds, we recommend you head over early mornings or afternoons during the weekdays. You’ll get to see the sunrise with a few people around.

The least crowded times to visit on the weekends are late mornings and early afternoons. Some other hikers are usually around, but it isn't too crowded.

Trail Papago Park

Tuesday and Wednesday are the least busy nights, so you can be sure to get the best evening pictures.

For late spring, summer, and early fall, we suggest wearing shorts and a T-shirt. As for winter, it’s probably best to wear pants, a long-sleeved shirt, or a hoodie.

Whichever season you plan to visit, always remember to bring enough water!

Transportation to Get to the Hole in the Rock

Parking at the Hole

The Hole in the Rock is very close to the Phoenix Zoo. There is parking nearby, and it is usually easy to find a spot. Parking is free!

  • Car: If you are driving from downtown Phoenix, then the easiest way to get to the Hole is by heading directly east on West Van Buren Street for about 7 miles. You will then want to take a left at North Galvin Parkway and drive for about a quarter mile before entering the parking lot.

Public Transportation is another option for visiting the Hole. Since both the zoo and the Hole are closely located, the city has made it easy to get to both.

Here are the best options:

  • Transit Option 1 - #3 Bus: Take the #3 bus from Van Buren Street and Central Avenue station towards the Phoenix Zoo. You will exit right in front of the zoo and then walk north to the trailhead for the hole.
  • Transit Option 2 - Light Rail + #56 Bus: First, take the light rail going east from Gilbert Road and Main Street Station. You will exit at Priest Drive and Washington Street station. You will then take the #56 Botanical Garden bus towards the Botanical Gardens (pick it up along N. Priest Drive just north of Washington Street). You will exit at the Galvin Parkway & Van Buren Street Station. You will then exit right at the zoo.
  • Transit Option 3 - Light Rail + Walking: Start at Van Buren Street and Central Avenue Station going East. You will get off at Priest Drive and Washington Street station. You can then walk about a mile to get to the Zoo and the Hole. We recommend you take N. Priest Drive and then take the trail into Papago Park, which starts at the northeast corner of N. Galvin Pkwy. and E. Van Buren Street. This walk is about a mile.

Attractions Near the Hole in the Rock

Attractions Nearby the Hole

There are several other attractions near the Hole in the Rock. Aram and I have made a list of some of them:

  • The Phoenix Zoo: It is directly south of the rock. Inside you will find more than 3,000 animals and 120 acres of land. Easily, you could spend 2 to 5 hours visiting the zoo and still not see everything. They have restaurants and bathrooms.
  • Hunt's Tomb: In 1931, Arizona’s first governor, George W.P. Hunt, built this small white pyramid to bury his wife. There are several factual signs about his wife and the former governor. Interestingly, he was the governor when women were given the right to vote in Arizona, which was 8 years before the US government. The area is not usually very busy, and the views are amazing. 
  • Desert Botanical Garden: This incredible attraction is just a short 5-minute drive from the Hole! This 55-acre garden has 5 trails, thousands of plants, and many wild animals (they are safe). It also has restaurants and bathrooms. It is a wonderful place for all ages, including young children, and you can even see the Hole in the Rock from one of the trails!
Hole Rock Pinterest Pin

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