For the cultured yet progressive, Scottsdale, Arizona offers a unique variety of experiences and destinations. Incorporated in 1951, this relatively new city is influenced by the great Sonoran Desert that surrounds it. Desert vistas offer awe-inspiring beauty and ruggedness that, in turn, have innovated city adventures ranging from hiking to equestrian activities, and desert architecture to national sporting events.
One of many places for mountain and desert trail hiking is at Pinnacle Peak in northern Scottsdale. Hikers to this granite boulder area can see the Camelback Mountain to the southwest and catch a glimpse of the Four Peaks Mountain range 25 miles to the east. All the while, enjoying the giant saguaro cactus, plentiful banana yucca, and the army-green colored paloverde trees. Hikers share trails with rabbits, coyotes, snakes, lizards, and must, at times, make room for bobcats and mule dear.
While horseback riding is permitted on many of the desert trails, for equestrian-type competition and entertainment, the city of Scottsdale has Westworld as a venue. Westworld possesses a multi-use tented arena that holds 6,000, a 119-acre polo field, and a horse arena that holds 600.
Events held at Westworld include the Annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show in mid-February where 2,000 of these stately horses compete and show-off their precision. The Miniature Horse Show takes place at the end of March, beginning of April here. Lovely and delicate miniature versions of these fine animals demonstrate their skills.
The Annual Parada del Sol Rodeo also calls Westworld its home. Coinciding with the Parada del Sol Parade, concerts, and block party in Old Town Scottsdale, this rodeo has been a Scottsdale tradition since the 1950’s. The entire Parada del Sol celebration takes place in early March.
The more cosmopolitan Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction occurs at Westworld from mid to late January. A multitude of sophisticated affairs accompany this “premier” auto auction, including parties, chartable events and upscale fashion shows. Making Scottsdale truly a city where the rustic meets the refined.
In the 1920’s, veteran architect Frank Lloyd Wright purchased 600 acres of Sonoran Desert at the foot of the McDowell Mountains. Taliesin West, Wright’s summer residence and work community was born. It is still populated by Frank Lloyd Wright-schooled architects and their protégés. Taliesin West architecture seems to melt right into the desert landscape and become part of its surroundings, now located within Scottsdale city limits.
Another architect and artist has called Scottsdale home, Paolo Soleri. The community he’s inspired at the Cosanti exhibits experimental architecture using monolithic concrete structures. Soleri and the community of the Cosanti and the larger Archosanti, located west of Prescott, Arizona, are famous for the copper bells they create. The bells can be purchased at the Cosanti or be seen in local décor.
To quench a totally different passion that could only be elicited by a sports enthusiast, Scottsdale is home to baseball Spring Training and golf’s Phoenix Open. Spring training for the San Francisco Giants is at Scottsdale Stadium, located in central Scottsdale. Cactus League Spring Training exhibition games are prevalent at this venue during the season.
Historically known at the Phoenix Open, this yearly national golf tournament takes place at the TPC course in Scottsdale in late January. It draws a great deal of media attention as it is established as a more laid-back tournament on the golf scene.
The city of Scottsdale, without trying, is the arbiter of an abundance of activities exclusive to this desert haven. The color, sights and sounds of the desert work together to create an ambiance where the natural environment merges with human needs and desires.