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Scottsdale Stories

Scottsdale's Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt

There are plenty of reasons to fall in love with Scottsdale, but high on the list should be lawn maintenance. Scottsdale has a luxurious lawn that’s the envy of the neighbors. Yet instead of keeping it pristine, it’s a lawn that gets trampled. Instead of yelling at kids to keep off the lawn, Scottsdale welcomes them, along with everyone else.

Scottsdale's Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt is a desert oasis, a long emerald necklace stretching through the heart of the community. It’s a vivid collection of parks, lakes, gardens and golf courses knitted together by a winding pathway. This long, thin playground never seems to end, extending from Shea Boulevard in central Scottsdale for 11 miles south to Tempe Town Lake. The Greenbelt unites the town, which is a nice bonus since it was originally designed to cleave Scottsdale in half. Aesthetics aside, the Greenbelt is a big, old floodplain.

Back in the day, sudden summer thunderstorms prompted flash flooding, turning streets into rivers and causing widespread destruction. The Army Corps of Engineers came up with a cost-effective and utterly soulless solution in 1961 when they proposed a massive concrete trough—an intermittent moat, if you will—140 feet wide and 25 feet deep, running for miles. Naturally, politicians were on board and funds were appropriated to begin work.

Meanwhile, a group of Scottsdale residents proposed the ridiculous notion of not paving paradise. Instead, they wanted to create an innovative greenbelt floodway with multiple uses. The residents prevailed and construction began in the 1970s. The wash was contoured, serving to contain and direct the flow of floodwaters. Parks, ball fields and golf courses were constructed, trees were planted, and a continuous path was built.

Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt meanders back and forth across Hayden Road for much of its length. The paved pathway makes it a beloved outing for bikers, joggers, rollerbladers and folks just out for a stroll. Tunnels and overpasses mean there are only a few encounters with traffic. The Greenbelt can be easily accessed from places like Indian School Park and Chaparral Park. So what are you waiting for? When you’re ready to play, everybody is out on the lawn.

Roger Naylor is an Arizona travel writer and author. His latest book is Arizona State Parks: A Guide to Amazing Places in the Grand Canyon State. He is a member of the Arizona Tourism Hall of Fame. For more info, visit