Did You Know: White Tank Mountain Has A Waterfall

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, February 6, 2015 - 11:37am
Updated: Friday, February 6, 2015 - 3:08pm
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(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez/ KJZZ News)
Information about petroglyphs can been found along the trail to the waterfall at the White Tank Mountain.

The state of Arizona has the Grand Canyon, red rocks and even a meteor crater. It also has waterfalls. One in particular is in the west Valley.

Many look forward to a rainy day in the Valley — to make the drive to the White Tank Mountain range. Sure, it has more than 25 miles of trails for hikers, horseback riders and bikers. But, the attraction flows much deeper than that. 

Did You Know…there’s a White Tank Mountain Waterfall that cascades down about 80 feet?

“Well, it’s created by rain runoff," said White Tank Mountain ranger Jessica Bland. "So, after a good rain is the best time to try to come and see the waterfall.”

I’ve been waiting weeks to see it, so after a recent overnight rain fall I thought this would be a good time to visit.

“Winter rains, in my experience so far, seem to produce better waterfalls than the summer monsoon rains," Bland said. "We definitely have waterfalls after the summer monsoons, but the rain is coming so quickly that the waterfall comes and goes very quickly as well.”

The trail to the waterfall is lush with Sonoran desert landscape including shrubs, trees and wildlife.

The rain has stopped. The clouds hover over the mountain peaks like cotton candy, the canyon rock formations become clear. And our voices begin to echo. 

All that’s left is a trickle of water slowing making its way down over the white granite rock to the small pond below at the end of the trail. 

“It’s always a treat to see a waterfall in the desert, even if it’s occasional," Bland said. "But, White Tank has a lot of history. We have evidence of several different Native American cultures that lived in or came through this.”

Bland said the waterfall was a reliable source of water for wildlife and the people who’ve lived here for thousands of years. It’s evident in the petroglyphs found on the way to and near the waterfall.

“Coming back here to this little canyon area we see evidence of somewhat of a fault line," Bland said. "So, geologically there was a lot going on. But then also, the rain runoff has created this area here in the basin where the water is retained.”

Bland said natural catchments, like this one at the bottom of this waterfall are referred to as tanks. She said there was a large one in the area used as a water stop along a stagecoach route in the mid to late 1800s. And seeing that this mountain range is mostly granite and maintains its white color when water falls through its canyons, the area was called White Tank Mountain.

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