With its gigantic reference to ASU, its long history as a home to Native Americans and its central location, A Mountain, officially named Hayden Butte Preserve Park, is dear to many.
Located on the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway, Hayden Butte is one of Tempe's most popular outdoor areas for exercise and a quick jaunt to take in a beautiful view.
The butte is culturally-significant to three communities: the people of Tempe, Arizona State University students and alumni, and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
Hohokam and Hayden Butte
Hayden Butte Preserve contains approximately 500 petroglyphs, or rock art images, that were made by the Hohokam some time between A.D. 750 and 1450. The Hohokam were the prehistoric inhabitants of this area. They built hundreds of miles of irrigation canals, cultivated corn as their main crop and lived in many settlements both large and small throughout the valley.
La Plaza was a large Hohokam settlement at the base of Hayden Butte. Many remnants of this settlement were discovered during archaeological excavations that were done in preparation for the light rail and transportation center on Fifth Street.
Today, the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community considers Hayden Butte to be a sacred place and a link to its ancestors.
Charles Trumbull Hayden
Hayden Butte got its name from Charles Trumbull Hayden, who is often credited as being the founder of Tempe. Hayden opened a ferry service and a flour mill at the base of the butte in the late 1800s, along with a general store. His former home is now Monti's La Casa Vieja restaurant, located on the west side of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway, just a short distance from Hayden Butte.
Arizona State University
Arizona State University first became involved with the butte in 1917, when students of the Tempe Normal School (what is now ASU) began the tradition of a Lantern Walk, which involved the passing of the torch between first and second year students. The Class of 1918 installed the first letter on Tempe-Hayden Butte: a large “N.” In 1925, the "N" became a "T," as Tempe Normal School changed its name to Tempe State Teachers College.
It wasn't until 1938 that an “A” first appeared. It was formed from loose rocks and soon after, the fall ritual of whitewashing the A began. In 1952, the “A” was dynamited into tiny bits and completely annihilated by vandals. In 1955, when the college was named Arizona State University, a new "A" was built. It remains today. The reinforced steel and poured concrete "A" measures 60 feet from base to top.
ASU Sun Devil Stadium is another dominant feature of the butte. In 1958, architect Ed Varney designed the football stadium to fit in the saddle between the two peaks of the butte. The east side of the butte was partially excavated in order to accommodate the construction.
Hayden Butte Park Preserve
The City of Tempe declared Hayden Butte a park in 1973. The 25-acre park offers wonderful views of Tempe and the surrounding cities, the Papago Mountains, Camelback Mountain, the Salt River and much more. The Leonard Monti Trail, dedicated in 1994, winds up the side of Hayden Butte and is named after the founder of Monti's La Casa Vieja Restaurant, which envelops the former home of Charles Trumbull Hayden.
Because of it's significant historical resources and significance, as well as the abundant desert fauna and flora, Tempe designated it as a preserve in 2002. This protects the butte's future while maintaining its connections to the past.
A Mountain Pride
The accessibility of A Mountain to hikers can be problematic. People are crushing the fragile desert beneath their feet by leaving the trails. Others are ruining ancient petroglyphs with grafitti.
It has cost the City of Tempe as much as $20,000 annually to try to restore the damaged petroglyphs. Boy Scouts, ASU students and other groups help with litter clean-up and landscape rejuvenation on occasion.
To help people enjoy the historic Hayden Butte without damaging it or themselves, the City of Tempe is asking people to have some pride in their mountain and follow some simple guidelines:
A Mountain Guidelines
• Have fun.
• Stay on the trail.
• Admire the A, but don’t paint it.
• Drink some water.
• Please don’t litter. Karma points for picking up any you see.
• Be polite to other hikers.
• A Mountain is beautiful the way it is. Please don’t leave any marks on it.
• Call 480 350-4311 or use the Tempe 311 mobile app to report any problems.