RV Friendly County – City

camping in Phoenix ArizonaI really enjoy places that are RV friendly.  For the most part, I’d say the majority of Arizona falls into that category…..

Maricopa County is a county located in the south-central part of the state of Arizona.  It’s population as of the 2010 census is 3,817,117 and the land encompasses about 9,224 square miles (23,891 km).

The city of Phoenix is Maricopa County’s seat as well as the Capital City of Arizona.  During the Real Estate boom of 2006, west valley municipalities ranked in the top ten fastest growing cities in the United States.

Maricopa County was founded in 1871 and has five Indian Reservations located within the county.

Now with the history lesson over, let’s talk about why this county and the city of Phoenix are so RV friendly….

First, and my favorite, are the Maricopa County Regional Parks.  You can click on the link for more in-depth information.  For now, I’ll briefly share with you what I know and where we’ve stayed;


we boondock at the shores of Lake Pleasant

Lake PleasantLake Pleasant Regional Park is located northwest of the city of Phoenix and is easily assessable off Interstate 17.  The lake is a popular draw with locals for water sports of all kinds.  There are three campgrounds as well as the opportunity to boondock.

This is a reservoir and water levels are closely monitored and managed.  In the fall, water levels are usually low, thus exposing plenty of land for boondocking.  By March all that exposed land is well under water.

Last February when we were camped at the lake, each morning we awoke to the water encroaching closer to our lakeside boondock spot.  The lake was filling at the rate of a foot each night.  It was a matter of days before the rangers notified everyone to move on and within the week what was once our campsite was now underwater.


Each morning the water got closer. The day we pulled out, the water was nearly to the pavement. No more fire ring to sit around….at least not without soaking our feet 🙂

Since it’s all about the water at this park, you’ll find warm, sunny weekends year round to be crowded.  As I said, its a popular place with the locals.

boondocking in Arizona

Thanksgiving 2012, Lake Pleasant….water level extremely low causing plenty of land for boondocking – the crowds were just beginning to show up for the long weekend

Cave Creek Regional Park is located north of the city of Phoenix.  Over the past three winters, we’ve spent the most amount of time at either Lake Pleasant or Cave Creek.  Cave Creek is probably our favorite…. due to its close proximity to our son’s home in addition to it’s peaceful tranquility and great hiking trails.RVing near Phoenix

Most of the campsites will accommodate just about any size rig, but there are a few sites that slope severely presenting a challenge for some RV’s.  The sites are well spaced and have nice views.  There are lots of great hiking trails accessible from the campground.

RVing in Phoenix

a typical site at Cave Creek Regional Park – sites are similar at McDowell and Usery

Shopping, fun sights, museums, and events are all within a short driving distance away.  Bonus; mornings and evenings the skies are filled with hot air balloons and the sunsets are spectacular.RVing in a big city

camping in PhoenixMcDowell Regional Park is located northeast of Scottsdale, Arizona.  It’s a favorite with many as evidenced by our inability to book a stay at this popular Regional Park. We’ve attempted several times to make a reservation at this beloved place to no avail.  So I have no personal experience, but based on the opinions of other RVer’s, the sites are similar to Cave Creek and Usery and the hiking/biking trails are top notch.

They do offer a dry-camping overflow lot for those unable to score a campsite, as do the other regional parks.

Usery Regional Park is located on the far eastside of the town of Mesa, Arizona.  It too is a very nice facility with an abundance of trails.

The campground has paved sites with a picnic table and fire ring.  Again, nicely spaced and lovely views.  We only spent two nights here last year and would have stayed longer if not for other obligations.

What sets this park aside from the others is it offers an onsite archery range and across the road from the main entrance is a gun range for trap, skeet and sporting clays shooting.  Saguaro Lake and the Salt River are within an easy drive from Usery Park.

Salt River

The Salt River….. north-east of Usery Regional Park

White Tank Mountains Regional Park is located on the very far west side of Phoenix.  In comparison to the above mentioned Parks, this is by far the most remote.  The camping facility is rustic.  Sites range in size from small, meant for tents or short trailers, to longer with the ability to accommodate large Class A’s or 5th Wheels.  There’s some pavement here and there but I’d say the sites are mostly gravel and spaced nicely.  This campground has the feel of boondocking in the middle of the desert but with the convenience of facilities.

We enjoyed our ‘waterfall’ hike at the White Tanks the other day, but probably won’t return because of its remote distance.  If you’re looking for a quiet, remote camping location with electric and water then this might be the place for you.

RVing in Arizona

interpretative trail at White Tank Mountain Regional Park

These five parks are all located on the outskirts of Phoenix providing a RVer with all the sophistication and amenities a big city has to offer while parking our rigs in a beautiful, nature surrounded environment.  The best of both worlds.  Oh, and let’s not forget…..these places are not just meant for RV’s but are also perfect for tents.

RVing in Phoenix

We loved our stay at Cave Creek Regional Park

Next up a beautiful state park on the east side of Phoenix…….Arizona sunset


60 thoughts on “RV Friendly County – City

  1. Great post Ingrid. We are looking forward to the time when we will again be out west, which is where our hearts are. We hope you and Al have a wonderful Christmas and safe travels as you make your way to Texas. 🙂

  2. I personally love the area surrounding Phoenix. Being born and raised in Florida, I find the desert Fascinating, and you would be hard pressed to find a more picturesque area than Maricopa County. Great pics as always!

  3. This is my first time visiting your blog, Ingrid.I came here from Rommel’s blog 🙂 I really enjoy the tour and the information of the parks are wonderful. Great photos!

    • I’m working on a series….so upcoming posts will all be about the Phx metro area. The sunset photo was taken at Cave Creek Regional Park last winter. Oh, and you’ll be roughing it at these parks….no sewer hook-ups.
      Look forward to hearing about the cruise 🙂

  4. For an RVer, I think you struck gold with this park system. It sounds wonderful, with beautiful landscapes. That’s a really stunning photo of what must have been a gorgeous sunset.

    • McDowell is the one that has alluded us. Perhaps in March on our return from Texas we’ll swing through. I cheated……the sunset photo was from last year at Cave Creek Reg Park. It’s hard to capture anything in a RV Park. I miss staying at a Regional or State Park. New game plan for next year is in order 😉

  5. Thanks for your concise overview of those county parks. We spent many happy weeks last year going from one to the other and loving each one. Your post makes me homesick for that beautiful desert and all that Phoenix has to offer.

    • Thanks…..we do enjoy spending winters around here. Arizona does have a lot of diversity to offer. It’s important to know the elevation and thus the weather. Enjoy your stay along the Gulf 🙂

    • Just be sure and book a reservation or you’ll be dry camping in their parking lot….speaking from experience. Enjoy the holidays with family and I’m looking forward to hearing about the next leg of your journey.

    • Nope….pretty nifty place to call home for awhile, that is until the heat melts my makeup, then it’s not so nifty and time to move on 😆

  6. Ingrid, thanks for this great posts. We have enjoyed and love Usery and Cave Creek, but haven’t been to the others you mentioned; will make a note and plan a visit!

    • There really are quite a few great spots to park a RV around Phoenix. We visit frequently because of our son but I’m antsy to check out Texas 🙂

  7. Great blog and jam packed with info in and around that area..We have never stayed at a regional park, but sounds like we should try it..The Arizona State Parks can get a bit pricey!! I will be saving this info for future travel (hopefully)!!

    • We love the Maricopa County Regional Parks but may limit any visits to short stays. They’re raising the price to $30 a night for electric and water to match the state parks. Texas may turn into our go to state at these rates. 😦

      • Get that Texas State Park Pass…good for one year…We always get it at the first state park we stay ..which is usually Falcon State Park on the Rio Grande. OMG…how did you get that snow on the background of your blog page..LOVE IT!

        • Isn’t that snow fun? Let’s keep it on the computer screen and not on our RV’s….LOL. It’s a feature WordPress offers and will automatically stop snowing on Jan 4. Now if only that would happen in the real world.
          Yes, we were planning on getting the Texas state park pass. We always get one in Colorado too. I’m looking forward to the change of scenery 🙂

    • There are other parts of AZ that aren’t bad in the summer, but Phoenix is definitely not one of them. Spring, summer, and most of winter are very enjoyable!

  8. Looks like it would be hard to choose your spot! And at which place? Wow, so pretty!!! I love the beachy parts and I like the remotes part too. I guess this is why it is nice to RV in Phoenix area. 🙂 Great photos.

    • That is the fun of RVing, we get to move around and enjoy a bunch of lovely locations. I’m looking forward to exploring parts of Texas in Jan and Feb, but no ice please 🙂

  9. We stayed and McDowell last year and are heading back in the first week of April, 2014. It sounds like it is similar to Cave Creek. We are planning in being in the area for several weeks and will definitely have to try some of the other parks you reviewed. Thanks for the info.

    • I know you will enjoy. April will definitely be warming up and the cactus will start blooming. What a great time to visit. The saguaro in bloom is a definite treat.

  10. I am storing all this info away for future travels. These parks reviews will come in very handy for us in a year or two. Thank you!

    • What’s really nice is each park is located in a different part of the valley allowing one to really enjoy and explore the Phoenix metro area.

  11. We’re on our way to McDowell Mountain today. It is our favorite park, with Usery a close second. Too many horses and poop on the Cave Creek trails!
    This will be our first time there since they implemented the reservation system. Liked it better when you could just go and stay in the overflow area until a site became available.

    • Yep, you’re right about the trails at Cave Creek 🙂 I’m not a big fan of the whole res system they set up but I guess it’s good knowing you’ll have a site. Enjoy your stay. I know one day we’ll actually stay there ourselves!

  12. Great blog! We love the Maricopa County park system. They are just about the best parks. We were actually hoping to stay at Lake Pleasant this year but when we came through it wasn’t as warm as we hoped.

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