Tue, Mar 22nd, 2005
posted by trevorland
Some friends and I were on a weekend trip to California when we spotted the Phoenix Trotting Grounds on the south side of I-10 as we were leaving Phoenix (you really can't miss it). We made plans to return and finally did about three weeks later on a Sunday afternoon. There was no secluded place to park so we parked right in front of a locked gate. It was very obvious to anyone driving by that someone was inside, we were sure we would be talking to the police soon enough. The fence next to it was torn down and we walked in easily. From here it is about 5 minutes of walking along a dirt road until you actually get to the facility.
The sheer size of the grandstand becomes clearer once you get closer to it. It is surrounded by another fence, but we were able to squeeze in between the bars. The ground level is littered with lots of loose junk such as pipes and machinery. From here it is just a matter of climing up to the top. The architecture is very interesting and the whole place gives a feeling of huge, open spaces. There are thousands of birds living in the rafters that will scare the living daylights out of you while you are walking around. The floor is covered in droppings and bird carcasses. Good shoes are key!
We found some stairs leading up to the roof, and headed up there to explore. From there we also went into the skybox, which was also pretty banged up. Peeling paint, holes in the walls, and bird crap everywhere you looked. After getting some fresh air, we went back inside to the top level. There were a couple of elevators inside, one of the shafts was open and went a long way down. We found another set of stairs and went down several stories. A strong blast of cold air was coming from below, but it was getting too dark to go any further. This place apparently has a couple of basement levels underground, we plan to go back and explore those some other time with spotlights.
We were inside for over an hour when we spotted a golf cart approaching the building on a dirt path. We thought they might call the police, but nothing happened and we left at our own leisure. It was a great first adventure and I recommend you visit this place if you have the chance.