Pay to Hike? Parking Meters proposed at Phoenix Mountain Parks

Mountain parks in the City of Phoenix are a popular draw for thousands each year.  But soon people may have to pay up if they want to hike mountains managed by the City of Phoenix.

As you may have heard by now, there are new hours for parking meters in downtown Phoenix; those hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., weekends as well. But now the city wants to install parking meters at Phoenix mountain parks.

It’s not a done deal by any means, but there is a proposal to install parking meters at Piestewa Peak (Phoenix Mountains Park), Camelback (Echo Canyon area), and South Mountains (Pima Canyon).

The proposal is not too popular among those who hike the mountains.

Stunning views and challenging hikes are some of the reasons that thousands enjoy Echo Canyon, Piestewa Peak, and South Mountain. The million dollar question is whether people will pay for the experience.

“It’s debatable, it’s so scenic, it’s a city park, it should be free,” said a hiker.

“The fact it is free and people bring families, friends, and not have to worry about a gym membership and all that,” said another hiker.

The City of Phoenix is considering whether to place parking meters at three popular mountain parks. The range would likely be from $1.50 to $4.00 an hour depending on the time of day.

“I’m pretty sure it’s going to run people away, especially on the busy days which are the weekends when you don’t even have parking,” said another hiker.

“Cause I’m already driving 45 minutes to get here, I understand if I lived down the street, or nothing for me, no I’ll just run on the treadmill or go to a park,” said a hiker.

Tim Sierakowski sent out these flyers encouraging people to come to the city’s open house on the matter.

“I think they’re trying to curtail people from coming to the parks, and this is wrong, they have enough money,” said Sierakowski.

The city says the plan is for crowd control and as a way to generate revenue.

Hikers agree it can get congested on the mountain.

“Sometimes it’s so crowded you can’t get up the mountain. Meters might be a good thing; you’ll never know,” said Thomas Moran.

The City of Phoenix held an open house Wednesday at the Devenshire Senior Center to give information about trailhead parking meters and get feedback.

Here is what transpired at the meeting.  City of Phoenix Parks and Rec Dept Deputy director Ken Vonderscher fielded questions.

  • Ken said the main reason for the parking meters would be to raise revenue and manage the crowds, but he had no numbers about how much revenue they expect to raise.
  • City Of Phoenix hired a consultant to do a study on the use and degradation of the trails, but he had no numbers on how much the city is paying this consultant.
  • Whether meters are installed, and how much should be charged is determined by a volunteer board, whose names and contact info he is restricted from giving.

To have your voice be heard attend the next meeting Thursday August 28 at 5pm at 200 W Jefferson, Phoenix AZ 85007.

Ken can be reached at, 602-261-8318, or visit the parks website at