Under the fountain’s mist, outdoor adventures, golf and culture beckon.
When developers C.V. Wood and Robert McCulloch purchased a cattle ranch between the McDowell Mountains and the Verde River in the late 1960s, they planned to develop a community in the scenic, hilly setting. There was just one (albeit big) problem: They needed a hook to get homebuyers out to the area, then at the edge of Greater Phoenix.
Wood, who helped develop Disneyland, and McCulloch, an entrepreneur, proposed an attraction—the world's tallest fountain. In 1970, their creation shot up some 560 feet in the air, and Fountain Hills was born. Today, this Fountain Hills attraction and its surrounding park form the centerpiece of a thriving town filled with restaurants, shops and lodging options, where visitors come to enjoy the outdoors, golf and cultural events.
Hikers, bikers and wanderers will appreciate Fountain Hills' easy access to the outdoors. Get your daily 10,000 steps at the recently opened Adero Canyon Trailhead, where trails offer a bird's-eye view of town and fountain and connect to adjacent McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Mountain bikers, equestrians and hikers can spread out on looping trails at the 21,000-acre McDowell Mountain Regional Park, a Fountain Hills outdoor attraction that also has campsites.
At Saguaro Lake, take a guided boat cruise on the Desert Belle, while kayaks, paddle boards and inner tubes are the preferred modes of transportation on nearby Salt River. Closer to town, Fountain Hills Desert Botanical Garden is a hidden gem of botanical and geological delights, while the path around the fountain offers a scenic loop for power walkers and joggers.
With a sun-drenched climate and sweeping views all the way to Four Peaks and the Superstition Mountains, who wouldn't want to take a swing at one of Fountain Hills' fabled public golf courses? Known for its narrow fairways and canyons, Desert Canyon Golf Club is the oldest club in town, while Eagle Mountain is a Scott Miller-designed course with dramatic elevation changes and an award-winning layout. Sunridge Canyon makes the most of its rugged ridges and canyons, thanks to Keith Foster's natural design. As part of the adjacent Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club's fairways are lined with saguaros and mesquites, rather than homes and buildings.
A cultured approach
Fun in the sun isn’t Fountain Hills' only attribute. Wander around the fountain and through downtown to see an impressive collection of public art—150 pieces—or head to Avenue of the Fountains for the weekly Art on the Avenue, a favorite local event. In spring, and again in fall, make plans to attend the Fountain Festival of Arts and Crafts when 500 artists gather to sell their creations.
Attached to the Fountain Hills Library, the River of Time Museum offers a history of life in the Verde River valley, from ancient peoples to modern times. Need a rest from all that walking around? Fountain Hills Theater produces more than a dozen annual shows, ranging from popular musicals to thought-provoking plays.
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