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;
Lake 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.
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.
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.
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.
McDowell 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.
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.
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.