Did You Know: Dobbins Lookout Is Highest Viewpoint Accessible To Hikers On Phoenix's South Mountain

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, October 24, 2014 - 2:32pm
Updated: Monday, April 27, 2020 - 1:19pm

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Dobbins lookout observation tower
Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez/KJZZ
A view of north Phoenix, Scottsdale and east Mesa from the Dobbins Lookout observation tower.

It's one of the most recognizable mountains in Phoenix. Perched on one of its peaks is a visitor’s stop with a magnificent view of the Valley.

Dobbins Lookout is located on South Mountain. Did You Know it is the highest viewing point accessible to visitors by trail?

“Almost 2,330 feet of elevation it’s just a great vantage point," said Justin Olson a ranger at South Mountain Park. "You can make out Tempe, downtown phoenix and on a clear day see clear up north to the Phoenix Mountain Preserves and beyond.”

Olson escorts me to Dobbins Lookout in his truck because the road that leads to the peak is closed and visitors are not allowed to drive there for safety reasons. Recent storms damaged the area and construction crews are making road repairs.

Once at Dobbins Lookout everything is stable and the view majestic.

Just ahead is the notable stone ramada, a structure that looks much like a small house.

Olson says it was built in the 1930s after the city of Phoenix petitioned the U.S. government to transfer at a minimal price more than 14,000 acres of the mountain range to the city for public use.

“It was is built by the civilian conservation corps. These were a group young men who were put to work during the depression so the 18- to 23-year-olds who were unemployed really didn’t have any skills, they could come out here and learn new skills. They would actually earn around $30 a month," Olson said.

The lookout was named after James C. Dobbins, the chairman of the Phoenix Planning Commission who spearheaded the efforts to purchase the land.

Also built on Dobbins Lookout is an observation tower.

"There’s a compass and it has a series of demarcations on the top to kind of point you towards different landmarks around the valley. The Camelback Mountains, Piestewa Peak, Phoenix Mountain Preserves, Glendale, different major cities, Tempe, Chandler around here. So you can really get your bearings,” Olson said.

Thousands of visitors make their way up here each year by day and night.

The summit road leading to the lookout is expected to be open by the end of this year. In the meantime, visitors can still hike one of the many trails that leads to Dobbins Lookout.  

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Dobbins Lookout compass
Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez/KJZZ
The compass on the Dobbins Lookout observation tower identifies the various landmarks visible from the cliff.
Dobbins lookout ramada
Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez/KJZZ
Peeking through the stone ramada windows with Phoenix in the background at Dobbins Lookout.

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