Let me take you on a journey to Buckeye, the westernmost suburb in the Phoenix metropolitan area, where the spirit of the Old West still thrives. Founded back in 1888 under the name of Sidney, this charming city in Maricopa County, Arizona has a rich history and a vibrant present.
In 1910, the city was given a new name that perfectly captures its essence: Buckeye. This change was inspired by the Buckeye Canal, a significant waterway that played a crucial role in the area’s development. Since then, Buckeye has grown rapidly and now boasts a population of nearly 60,000 residents, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the entire United States.
What sets Buckeye apart from other cities is its breathtaking natural beauty and its commitment to outdoor recreation. For wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers, Buckeye is a paradise waiting to be explored. The city offers an extensive network of trails that span for miles, inviting hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and campers to immerse themselves in the stunning landscapes that surround the area.
As an enthusiastic traveler who enjoyed his experience with the beauty of the area, allow me to join you as we embark on our adventure through Buckeye, let’s uncover the best things to see and do in this remarkable city.
1. Historic Gillespie Dam Bridge
As we continue our journey through Buckeye, let’s make a stop at a fascinating piece of Arizona’s history: the Gillespie Dam Bridge. This iconic bridge, constructed in 1927 and lovingly restored in 2012, stands as a testament to the state’s rich past and America’s transportation heritage.
Spanning the majestic Gila River, the Gillespie Dam Bridge stretches an impressive 1,662 feet in length. It holds the distinction of being one of the longest bridges in the area and was once the largest steel structure in all of Arizona. While it no longer serves as a segment of the Old U.S. 80 highway, the bridge continues to captivate both locals and tourists alike.
As we venture just a quarter of a mile west of the bridge, on the river’s west side, a remarkable sight awaits us. Nestled at the base of the cliffs, an awe-inspiring display of petroglyphs awaits discovery. These ancient rock carvings offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the region, telling stories of the people who once called this land their home.
2. Skyline Regional Park
Skyline Regional Park is one of my favorite parks here in Buckeye. It offers over 16 miles of trails, perfect for hiking, biking, and even horseback riding. The park is situated in the breathtaking southern White Tank Mountains and spans an impressive 8,700 acres. I always find myself in awe of the stunning views it provides.
One of the reasons why Skyline Regional Park is so beloved by the locals is its fantastic amenities. The park boasts 5 ramadas and 7 camping sites, each offering a unique vantage point to admire the surrounding mountains. Whether I’m enjoying a picnic or setting up camp for the night, the views never fail to amaze me.
Since its opening in January 2016, this park has become a go-to destination for many outdoor enthusiasts. What’s even better is that it’s a dog-friendly park, allowing me to bring my furry friend along for the adventure. The park management has really put effort into providing fresh and modern amenities, making the experience all the more enjoyable.
Whenever I go camping at Skyline Regional Park, I was impressed by the thoughtfulness put into the campsite design. Each campsite includes convenient features such as a parking stall, two graded tent pads, a picnic table, a cooking grill, and a fire ring. It’s comforting to know that everything I need is right there, making my stay comfortable and convenient.
One of the highlights of visiting Skyline Regional Park is the minimal light pollution in the area. This makes it a prime location for stargazing. On a clear night, the sky comes alive with countless stars, creating a mesmerizing and unforgettable experience. I love spending evenings gazing at the vast expanse of the universe, feeling a sense of peace and wonder.
3. Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden holds a special place in my heart. It has a rich history, dating back to its establishment in 1939. Having walked through its grounds, I was amazed by the sheer diversity of plant life. With over 50,000 plants, one third of which are native to the area, the garden is a true oasis of botanical wonders.
Situated in Papago Park, the garden is located about 40 miles away from Buckeye. It’s worth the trip, as the serene beauty and tranquil atmosphere make it a must-visit destination for nature lovers like me. The surroundings of the garden add to its allure, with stunning vistas and natural landscapes that enhance the overall experience.
One of the things that makes the Desert Botanical Garden truly special is the invaluable contribution of its volunteers. Since its inception, volunteers have played a crucial role in the creation and development of the garden. Even today, they are considered an integral part of the garden’s success.
Working closely with the knowledgeable staff, these dedicated volunteers generously share their time, talents, and professional expertise. They actively participate in the daily workings and maintenance of the garden, as well as engaging with guests. Their passion and commitment create a welcoming and educational environment for visitors, ensuring that everyone’s experience is enriched.
I truly appreciate the efforts of the volunteers at the Desert Botanical Garden. Their dedication and enthusiasm shine through in every corner of the garden, making it a vibrant and thriving space. Their contributions help preserve and showcase the natural beauty of the region, and their interactions with guests add a personal touch that makes every visit memorable.
4. White Tank Mountain Regional Park
Nestled in the scenic west-central Maricopa County, Arizona, lies the breathtaking White Tank Mountain Regional Park. This expansive park seamlessly blends the beauty of the desert with majestic mountain landscapes, creating a captivating natural wonderland.
One of the things that sets this park apart is its vast network of hiking trails. With nearly 26 miles of trails to explore, there’s always a new adventure awaiting. I loved lacing up my hiking boots and immersing myself in the stunning surroundings. Whether I’m trekking through the desert or ascending the mountain trails, each step unveils a new panorama of natural splendor.
Covering an impressive expanse of 29,271 acres, the White Tank Mountain Regional Park holds the distinction of being the largest regional park in Maricopa County. As I wandered through its seemingly endless terrain, I was constantly reminded of the immense beauty and diversity of the Arizona landscape.
While the majority of the park remains undeveloped and off-limits to motorized vehicles, there are designated areas within the developed portion of the park that offer amenities for visitors. Here, you’ll find inviting picnic areas, perfect for enjoying a leisurely lunch amidst nature’s embrace. Additionally, for those seeking a closer connection with the outdoors, a campground provides a serene setting for spending the night under the stars.
Speaking of stars, the White Tank Mountain Regional Park offers a heavenly treat for astronomy enthusiasts like me. Thanks to its regular clear weather and minimal light pollution, this park is a prime spot for stargazing. Throughout the year, the park hosts various stargazing events, allowing visitors to witness the wonders of the night sky in all its celestial glory. It’s truly a mesmerizing experience that leaves me in awe of the vastness and beauty of our universe.
5. Verrado Golf Club
As an avid fan of golfing, the Verrado Golf Club has become one of my favorite destinations to tee off. With two distinct layouts boasting 36 holes of championship golf, this club offers an exceptional golfing experience designed by none other than Tom Lehman, the Ryder Cup Captain.
Situated against the stunning backdrop of the White Tank Mountains, every round at Verrado Golf Club is a feast for the senses. As I navigated the well-crafted fairways, I couldn’t help but pause and appreciate the breathtaking views and the harmonious blend of nature and golf. The occasional glimpse of wildlife adds an extra touch of magic to each swing.
After a satisfying day on the course, there’s no better way to cap off the experience than by indulging in a meal at the renowned Verrado Grille Restaurant. The combination of impeccable service, lively atmosphere, and incredible views creates an unforgettable dining experience.
The Verrado Golf Club is not just a haven for golf enthusiasts; it also provides a stunning backdrop for special occasions. The club offers exquisite spaces where weddings and other events can be celebrated in style. From the well-manicured greens to the elegant event venues, every detail is taken care of to ensure a high-quality experience for guests. It’s the perfect setting to create lasting memories and celebrate milestones in a truly exceptional way.
6. Robbins Butte Wildlife Area
Whenever I climb to the top of Robbins Butte hill, situated south of the Gila River, I’m rewarded with a sweeping panoramic view of the river corridor. It’s a vantage point that allows me to appreciate the vastness and beauty of the surrounding landscape.
Robbins Butte is not only a scenic spot; it also boasts diverse habitats that attract a wide array of resident and migratory wildlife. As I explored the area, I often catch sight of magnificent mule deer, majestic bighorn sheep, and an abundance of small creatures like cottontail rabbits. It’s a true haven for nature enthusiasts, providing ample opportunities to observe wildlife in their natural habitats.
While overnight camping is not permitted in the area, Robbins Butte remains a popular destination for other outdoor activities. Hiking is a common choice among visitors, who are drawn to the breathtaking trails that wind through the diverse terrain. The area also offers opportunities for hunting and birdwatching, allowing enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the serenity of the natural surroundings.
It’s important to exercise caution while hiking in this area, as several species of rattlesnakes can be found here. Being aware of your surroundings and wearing appropriate footwear and clothing is essential for a safe and enjoyable experience. I always make sure to stay on designated trails and respect the natural environment and its inhabitants.
7. Buckeye’s Air Fair
One of the highlights of my year is attending Buckeye’s Air Fair, a thrilling event held at Buckeye’s Municipal Airport. This annual celebration is a true treat for aviation lovers, offering a captivating display of aviation exhibits, aircraft showcases, and awe-inspiring air demonstrations.
What makes Buckeye’s Air Fair even more special is its participation in the Arizona SciTech Festival. This festival provides an opportunity for children of all ages to explore and learn about the fascinating science behind aviation. It’s a chance for young minds to be inspired and educated while having a blast at this family-friendly event.
The Air Fair boasts a wide range of attractions that cater to aviation enthusiasts of all ages. From cutting-edge exhibits on space exploration to thrilling remote control aircraft demonstrations, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. For those who’ve always dreamed of experiencing the excitement of being a Top Gun pilot, there’s even a chance to book a ride on an authentic World War II aircraft. It’s an exhilarating opportunity that truly makes this event one of Buckeye’s largest and most exciting gatherings.
Attending Buckeye’s Air Fair is a thrilling experience that fuels my passion for aviation. It’s a day filled with wonder, excitement, and the opportunity to witness incredible aerial displays and interact with aviation enthusiasts from all walks of life. The event showcases the marvels of aviation while providing an engaging and educational experience for the whole family.
8. Estrella Mountain Regional Park
As a nature lover, Estrella Mountain Regional Park has become my go-to destination for outdoor activities and adventures. Situated in the southwest of Phoenix, this expansive park offers an array of possibilities for visitors seeking to immerse themselves in nature.
Spanning approximately 20,000 acres, Estrella Mountain Regional Park boasts an impressive network of over 33 miles of trails. Whether I’m in the mood for hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding, the park provides the perfect setting for a day filled with thrilling outdoor exploration. Each trail offers its own unique charm and showcases the diverse beauty of the surrounding landscape.
What sets Estrella Mountain Regional Park apart is its range of recreational facilities. From baseball fields and a golf course to playground areas and campsites, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The park even boasts the distinction of having the only grass picnic area in the entire Maricopa County Park System. It’s a wonderful spot to relax, have a picnic, and soak up the serene ambiance of the park.
For bird enthusiasts like me, Estrella Mountain Regional Park is a haven. With a remarkable 150 species of birds calling this park their home, it’s a paradise for birdwatching. Armed with binoculars, I loved to wander the trails, eagerly spotting and identifying the diverse avian inhabitants of the park. It’s a truly recommended activity that allows for a deeper appreciation of the park’s natural wonders.
9. Skydive Buckeye
If you’re in search of an exhilarating adventure that will get your heart racing, look no further than Skydive Buckeye. As an adrenaline junkie, this is my go-to destination for an unforgettable experience.
What sets Skydive Buckeye apart is the fact that it’s owned and operated by a passionate family. The instructors at Skydive Buckeye hold ratings from the United States Parachute Association and boast extensive skydiving experience from all corners of the globe. Knowing that I’m in the hands of skilled professionals who have mastered the art of skydiving gives me immense confidence and adds to the thrill of the experience.
Once I was strapped securely to my instructor, we took the leap from an airplane soaring two miles above the ground. The adrenaline rush hits me as we free fall for a breathtaking 40 seconds, reaching speeds of up to 120mph. It’s an unparalleled feeling of freedom and excitement, as I soar through the air with the wind rushing past me.
As the parachute opens, the descent becomes a gentle and peaceful ride back to the ground. In that moment, I was able to take in the breathtaking panoramic views of the majestic White Tank Mountains and the stunning Estrella Mountain. The beauty of the landscape from this vantage point is truly awe-inspiring, and it adds another layer of magic to the whole experience.
Safety is paramount at Skydive Buckeye. They prioritize the well-being of their customers and maintain their equipment to meet the strict standards set by the Federal Aviation Administration. Knowing that I’m in good hands allows me to fully immerse myself in the thrill of the moment and enjoy every aspect of the adventure.
10. Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium
As a fan of wildlife and someone who enjoy nature, one of my favorite destinations near Buckeye is the incredible Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium. Located just 20 miles away, this expansive 215-acre zoo is renowned for its focus on African and South American animals, making it a true haven for nature lovers.
Since its opening to the public in 1984, the Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium has established itself as the largest collection of exotic animals in Arizona. The diverse array of species found within its borders is truly awe-inspiring. From majestic lions to playful monkeys, every visit is a chance to encounter remarkable creatures from around the world.
There’s so much to see and experience at the Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium. One of the highlights is the opportunity to feed a giraffe, an exhilarating and up-close encounter that leaves a lasting impression. Additionally, the Animal Nursery offers a delightful experience as visitors have the chance to spot adorable baby animals and witness their early stages of life. The zoo is open 365 days a year, ensuring that every day holds the potential for new and exciting wildlife encounters.
What makes the Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium even more special is its one-of-a-kind Wildlife Aquarium. It’s the only venue in Arizona that showcases captivating sea mammals. As I step into the aquarium, I am transported into a world of marine wonders, from the vibrant biodiversity of the Amazon River to the mesmerizing South Pacific and Caribbean Ocean exhibits. It’s an opportunity to appreciate the beauty and diversity of aquatic life in a way that is truly unique.
11. Corral West Horse Adventures
Corral West Horse Adventure is a must-visit destination for horse lovers and anyone seeking an authentic cowboy experience. Nestled within the picturesque Estrella Mountain Regional Park, this is a haven for anyone seeking an authentic cowboy experience.
One of the highlights of visiting Corral West is the opportunity to explore the stunning landscapes from the back of a horse or in the back of a wagon. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in the spirit of the Wild West, riding through the scenic trails and feeling a true connection with these magnificent animals. The team at Corral West goes above and beyond to provide visitors with an authentic experience, even providing boots, hats, and chaps to complete the cowboy attire.
For families seeking a memorable outing, Corral West offers an enchanting cowboy cookout. This unique adventure involves riding out to a remote desert setting, where you can indulge in an evening of genuine western entertainment. From cowboy dining to a marshmallow roast around the campfire, it’s an opportunity to create lasting memories in a truly immersive setting. The atmosphere is filled with the spirit of the Old West, transporting you back in time to an era of cowboys and campfire tales.
Corral West Horse Adventure truly captures the essence of the cowboy lifestyle and offers a range of experiences to suit all ages and preferences. Whether you choose to ride on horseback, enjoy a wagon ride, or partake in the cowboy cookout, you’re sure to create unforgettable moments and cherish the feeling of embracing the true spirit of the West.
12. Goodyear Ballpark
As a traveler of Buckeye, I was fortunate to have the impressive Goodyear Ballpark located just 14 miles away in the charming town of Goodyear. This state-of-the-art facility serves as the training home for both the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds, making it a hub of excitement for baseball enthusiasts.
Since its opening in 2009, the Goodyear Ballpark has been a beacon of sportsmanship and entertainment. With a capacity of over 10,000 seats, it offers a comfortable and immersive experience for fans of all ages. During the spring training season, the ballpark comes alive with the crack of bats and the cheers of the crowd as these professional teams showcase their skills and prepare for the regular season.
However, the Goodyear Ballpark isn’t just a venue for spring training. Throughout the year, a diverse range of events and activities take place within its hallowed grounds. Car shows, where enthusiasts gather to admire classic and exotic vehicles, bring a touch of automotive splendor to the stadium. Graduation ceremonies mark significant milestones for students, creating unforgettable memories in a unique setting. Movie nights under the starry sky, weddings filled with love and celebration, and corporate picnics that foster a sense of camaraderie all find a place within this versatile venue.
Beyond its role in the world of baseball, the Goodyear Ballpark has become a vibrant hub of community engagement and celebration. Its presence enriches the lives of residents and visitors alike, offering a diverse range of experiences that extend far beyond the baseball season.
13. Buckeye Aquatics Center
The Buckeye Aquatic Center truly embodies the spirit of summer fun. It’s a place where families and friends can gather to create lasting memories, beat the heat, and enjoy the delights of water recreation. From splashing around in the zero-depth beachfront area to taking the plunge from the high dive or zooming down the thrilling water slides, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Established in 1980, this aquatic park is widely regarded as one of the finest swimming and diving pools in the area.
One of the highlights of the Buckeye Aquatic Center is its expansive 10 zero-depth beachfront area, complete with water features. It’s the perfect spot to relax and cool off, especially for families with little ones who can safely splash around. For those seeking a thrilling experience, the center also boasts a 10-foot high dive that promises an adrenaline rush for diving enthusiasts.
But the excitement doesn’t end there! The Buckeye Aquatic Center takes the fun to new heights with its incredible 160-foot water slides. Careening down these slides provides an exhilarating experience that is sure to leave you wanting more.
In addition to offering a wide range of recreational activities, the Buckeye Aquatic Center is dedicated to promoting water safety and wellness. They provide water aerobics classes that offer a refreshing and energizing workout. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced swimmer, the center also offers swim lessons and certification courses to help individuals of all ages and skill levels improve their swimming abilities.
14. Buckeye Valley Museum
Established in 1954, this museum holds a wealth of fascinating artifacts that offer a glimpse into our community’s past. The Buckeye Valley Museum is more than just a collection of artifacts. It’s a journey through time, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the stories and experiences of those who came before us.
From the moment you step inside, you’re transported to a different era. The museum’s collection features an impressive array of pre-Columbian pottery, historic photographs, and various local artifacts. It’s a true testament to the rich heritage that shaped Buckeye into the town it is today.
In 2014, the museum underwent a remarkable transformation, breathing new life into its exhibits. Now, visitors can marvel at a restored 1926 tractor, take a seat on the original Roxy Theatre seats, and observe the bronze plates from the iconic Roosevelt Irrigation Canal. These artifacts not only tell a story but also create a tangible connection to the history that surrounds us.
What makes the Buckeye Valley Museum truly special is its dedication to community engagement. Operated by the Buckeye Valley Historical and Archaeological Society, the museum aims to bridge the gap between past and present, fostering a sense of connection among residents. Through various exhibits, events, and educational programs, they strive to preserve our heritage and share it with current and future generations.
As I explored the Buckeye Valley Museum, I couldn’t help but feel a deep appreciation for the town’s roots and the people who shaped its development. It’s a place that brings our community together, igniting a sense of pride and curiosity about our shared history.
15. Sonoran Desert National Monument
The Sonoran Desert National Monument serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting our natural heritage. It is a treasure trove of biological diversity, archaeological wonders, and historical. Established in 2001, this breathtaking monument is a testament to the unique beauty and importance of the Sonoran Desert ecosystem.
Spanning nearly 500,000 acres, the Sonoran Desert National Monument serves as a crucial sanctuary for several endangered species. Its pristine landscapes and diverse habitats make it a haven for wildlife and plants, earning the Sonoran Desert the distinction of being the most biologically diverse desert in North America. The monument’s protected status ensures the preservation of this precious desert ecosystem for generations to come.
Managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Sonoran Desert National Monument encompasses three distinct mountain ranges that add to its natural allure. The striking Sand Tank, Table Top Mountains, and Maricopa Mountains provide stunning backdrops for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
Exploring the monument reveals a rich tapestry of history and archaeology. Many significant archaeological sites, as well as remnants of historical trails, can be discovered within its boundaries. These remnants offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives and cultures of those who inhabited this land before us, connecting us to the region’s vibrant past.
As I traversed the Sonoran Desert National Monument, I was captivated by the awe-inspiring vistas, the serene silence, and the feeling of being one with nature. It’s a place where I can truly appreciate the immense beauty and resilience of the desert landscape.