Many people driving though the eastern reaches of the Phoenix metropolitan area have wondered why the giant word PHOENIX is painted on the side of a mountain, along with an equally giant-sized arrow. The story begins back in the 1950's, when this sign was first whitewashed on the hillside by a group of Boy Scouts. At that time, the desert surrounding Phoenix was all open desert without much in the way of landmarks; the giant arrow was intended to direct pilots to the Phoenix airport, some 22 miles to the east. These days, the metropolitan area has grown all the way out to the hills and beyond, and the nearby Superstition Freeway provides an obvious reference, so the sign is pretty much obsolete. Still, in the late 1990's, the sign was repainted by another group of scouts under the supervision of rangers from the nearby Usery Mountain Regional Park. That caused some complaints, so the giant letters will likely never be repainted again -- in these more-enlightened days, the public takes a dim view of defacing the natural scenery.
Directions: From the Superstition Freeway (Highway 60) in Mesa, take Ellsworth Road (turns into Usery Pass Road) north; the sign is visible on the west side of Usery Pass Road, north of McKellips Road.
Last visited: January 2010.
Standard disclaimer: Sites are described for entertainment purposes only, as they were at the time of my last visit. I can not vouch for the current condition of the site or its accessibility.