I unearthed this information from various hiking & canyoneering forums when I was looking for a place to teach a friend how to rappel. The first two areas seem to be the most popular, and the rest were just vaguely hinted at on different websites. Here’s what I found in case it helps somebody sometime.
-Rappel Gully at Echo Canyon
Get there: Hiking up the Echo Canyon trail, stop right before turning right for the fenced-in stairmaster section. You’ll be standing on the rappel rock, where you’ll see an eye-bolt in the ground to your left.
Description: The 75′ rappel begins with a gentle slope, then drops off quickly and is free-hanging for a bit at the end.
Extras: Voted to best place to learn how to rappel by the Phoenix New Times, if that means anything to you. I’ve seen firemen practice here, and that should mean something to you. The eyebolt is considered “bomb-proof;” it’s stuck in there with cement. That should reassure a nervous beginner. Another bonus is that the cliff is in the shade all morning.
-The Papago Buttes (Galvin Pkwy & McDowell)
Get there: From the parking lot, follow a trail towards the butte and find the one that circles the buttes. Head east and walk around the eastern-most buttes. Once you are on the north side of the eastern-most butte, look for a gully heading up to the top of it.
-Option #1: Staying on top of the smaller butte gives a few rappel options; there is an eye-bolt and a few bolts & hangers. The total rappel from here is about 115′ but there are many ledges on the way down to stop & collect your nerves, breaking the rap into 20-30 foot sections
-Option #2: To your right when you were climbing up the gully, you’ll see some cave-like things. These are what you will rappel over for this option. Just climb up there the best way you see fit. This option will give you a rappel somewhere between 150-190′
Map is from here.
Rumors of other places to practice, but I haven’t checked them out:
-A sharp overhanging rock at the bouldering rocks up Pima Wash
-Desert Classic trail: Boulders for good practice, no bolts.
-40′ wall at the Ramadas (South Mountain entrance at 48th St & Guadalupe); nice boulders to use as anchors, there are no bolts here. As a special note, there is a creepy owl who hangs out 8′ from the top.
Map is from here.
-Coon’s Bluff: around 160′