We all know that the Salt River Project canals bring life-sustaining water to the Valley of the Sun so that 3.4 million people can call this part of the Sonoran Desert home. But, did you know that those same canals are key recreational areas? Here is our story about the Arizona Canal.
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On any given day along the banks of the Arizona Canal you are able to view lots of “wildlife”. Not just the numerous ducks who make the canal their home, but also the runners, hikers and bikers that transverse it on a daily bases, wild about getting healthy. No wonder with the magnificent views of Camelback Mountain and a couple of nice watering holes along the way to wet your whistle, it’s a great way to get out and enjoy nature while getting some good exercise too.
The Arizona Canal is just one of nine Salt River Project canals that bring life-giving water to the people of the Valley of the Sun. It is the longest of the nine canals, winding some 39 miles from the Granite Reef Diversion Dam to 75th Avenue. Construction of the Arizona Canal began in 1883 making it the oldest of the Salt River Project canals.
An ideal starting point for a day journey along the Arizona Canal is the bicycle haus (sic) located at the corner of 5th Avenue and Goldwater Blvd in old, downtown Scottsdale. Public parking is available on the northwest corner. At the bicycle haus you can rent a bike by the hour/day or get a checkup on the one you brought from home. Enter the canal bank a short 25 yards from the front door and head west for a great springtime adventure.
Many new families with strollers and children in tow frequent the canal but be warned, there is no barrier between the bike path and the moving water. Safety first is always the rule when using any of the paths along the SRP canals.
First stop might be the historic Arizona Falls located just east of 56th Street and Indian School Road. The Arizona Falls is a natural 20-foot drop along the Arizona Canal. In the late 1800s Phoenicians came to the falls to picnic, socialize and dance near the cool spray of falling water. The first hydroelectric plant in Phoenix was built here in 1902 and operated until 1950.
In June 2003 a joint effort between SRP, the Phoenix Art Commission and the Arcadia neighborhood transformed the historic waterfall into a place for visitors to learn, reflect and interact. The new Arizona Falls again generates clean electricity as it combines history, art and modern technology.
Continuing to travel west soon brings the canal adventurer to the 40th Street and Camelback area. Here along the Arizona Canal is found Chelsea’s Kitchen, a wonderful place to stop for fresh squeezed lemonade, brunch or lunch.
Located in the old historic North Bank Restaurant building, Chelsea’s Kitchen is a landmark Arizona restaurant. The building features multiple fireplaces in and out with a large patio looking west, down the banks of the Arizona Canal. Children will enjoy helping a stone pooch locate his stone bone in a small pond of water at the front of the restaurant.
Bikers are now some seven miles into their journey down the Arizona Canal and this makes a good place to turn around and make ones way back to the bicycle haus. Another beautiful Arizona memory has been made along the banks of the Arizona Canal.