10 Favorite Oddball Landmarks in Phoenix

Categories: Found Art

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Esther Groves
There are plenty of destinations to keep you busy this summer, and throughout the year -- especially if you're a fan of the unusual.

We've been on a hunt for lesser-known gems in our Hidden Valley series. Today, from abandoned dog tracks to castles, we bring you a few of our favorite oddball spots.

10. Black Canyon City Dog Track

The Black Canyon City Dog Track, about 40 miles north of Phoenix, is both a mecca for squatters and urban explorers and a fascinating study in decay. This massive property has been falling into rapid disrepair since the late 1980s, and remains one of the most accessible abandoned sites in the Valley.

Until recently, the property was highly visible from the I-17 just past Anthem. That's because the building had the words "DOG TRACK" painted in big orange block letters on the south side of the building. The "T" fell off at some point, so it read "DOG RACK" until somebody painted a black "C" on the building and it read "DOG CRACK." Now, the entire thing's been painted over. The dog track's still visible from the corner of Coldwater Canyon and Maggie Mine Roads, where people sometimes park and walk onto the property to explore. More...

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Benjamin leatherman
9. Phoenix Trotting Park in Goodyear

Ever wondered what this town might look like, post-apocalypse? The abandoned Phoenix Trotting Park racetrack in Goodyear is a pretty good preview -- and a pretty handy one if all those rumors of The Rapture happening in less than a week prove to be true.

Desiccated by the ravages of the past 50 years, all that remains of the abandoned racetrack (off Interstate 10 on the edge of Goodyear) is its ginormous grandstand that looks like it survived a massive explosion and or served as a movie set. And oddly enough, it's done both.

Phoenix Trotting Park's lifespan was tragically short. It was built in the early 1960s and debuted as a gambling and entertainment destination for horse race junkies in 1965. Today, visiting Phoenix Trotting Park is a relatively dangerous, treacherous, and illegal journey. More ...

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Photo by Esther Groves
8. Alleged UFO Crash Site at Dreamy Draw Recreation Area

The next time you hike through the Dreamy Draw Recreation Area, watch out for aliens -- not illegal immigrants, but the extraterrestrial sort. They may be looking for the spaceship some people believe crashed there more than 60 years ago.

Today, Dreamy Draw is a quaint desert park next to Piestewa Peak, where people ride horses, have picnics, and bird-watch. But this area also boasts its own alien lore: that there's a 36-foot UFO buried beneath the Dreamy Draw Dam.

There reportedly were two UFO crashes around Phoenix in 1947, one in Dreamy Draw and one in Cave Creek. While it's unlikely that little green men touched down at Dreamy Draw, the park and dam are still worth a visit. There's plenty to see and do and learn. For example, it's true that the area was once mined heavily for mercury, before its debilitating effects on the nervous system were known. The phrase "mad as a hatter" is believed to be derived from the effects of mercury poisoning, which include hallucinations -- like UFO crashes, perhaps. More ...

Location Info


Dreamy Draw Recreation Area

2421 E. Northern Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

7374 E. Second St., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: General

Gilbert Water Ranch

SE corner of Greenfield and Guadalupe Roads, Gilbert, AZ

Category: General

South Mountain Park and Preserve

10919 S. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

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Lori A. Johnson
Lori A. Johnson

Wait... secret garden?? Can someone share the secret? ;)

Kim Porter
Kim Porter

I would add the secret garden in the Dixie Gammage building on ASU -- if the list was a little longer, and could include surprise locations which are dreamlike in their existence, but otherwise unremarkable.

Dan Moore
Dan Moore

Finally, a dog track that really screams, "You're at a dog track."

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