Approximately 300 B.C. Prehistoric Indians entered the Salt River Valley. They developed an extensive canal system and raised corn, beans, squash, agave and cotton.
Over 500 miles of Hohokam canal have been recorded in the Salt River Valley. Estimates suggest that the canals may have supported between 30,000 and 60,000 people with up to 100,000 acres under cultivation. Some of the canals extended over 12 miles in length. For reasons still unknown, the Hohokam abandoned their canal system and left the valley by 1450 A.D.
In 1878, Mormon Pioneers constructed their first major canal by cleaning out an ancient Hohokam canal. This canal is located West of the cactus garden. The bridge to the playground spans another prehistoric canal. A third ancient canal is located just North of the playground.
The Park of the Canals preserves about 4,500 feet of ancient canals. The National Geographic Society has listed this park as an important site for Native American heritage. The American Society of Civil Engineers has awarded the Hohokam canal system an Award for Excellence in Prehistoric Engineering. This is the first time that an ancient civil engineering project has been so honored. The Park of the Canals is listed as a National Historic site.
Additional information and a map of the park are located inside the Brinton Desert Botanical Garden.