Why we winter in Phoenix

What is it about the desert southwest that has us returning year after year?  It’s obvious we share our desert addiction with hundreds or more like thousands of other visitors.  Each winter season, droves of people migrate to Phoenix and the surrounding area to escape the cold and snow.desert sunset

Some folks come for a long weekend visit, while others (us included) stay for months at a time.  Let’s face it, with over 300 days of sunshine a year, mild winter temperatures, and sunsets that’ll knock your socks off, it’s hard not to like this part of the United Cactus flowerStates.  But there’s a lot more to the valley of the sun than merely the weather.

Sometimes I relish quiet, remote solitude while other times I like the hustle and bustle only a city can offer.  Phoenix is unique in offering me the pleasure of both world’s.

Phoenix is not only the capital of the state of Arizona but also the county seat for Maricopa County.  Maricopa County encompasses 9,224 square miles (23,890km) and includes the city of Phoenix along with 13 other cities, 10 towns, over a dozen other unincorporated communities, and 5 Indian Reservations.

fawnEach locale offers its own distinct vibe and topography.  Recreational opportunities are endless and diverse ….. hiking, biking, kayaking, golfing, fishing, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, fine dining, casual dining, museums, art galleries, rodeos, car shows, zoos, festivals, casinos, concerts, professional sports, minor league sports, shooting guns, and shooting cameras (my favorite, of course).

Trust me, there is no shortage of things to photograph around here; from wildlife, to beautiful flora – fauna, to distinct architecture and landscapes.  And of course, those amazing sunsets.desert sunset

The Maricopa County Park System is a recreational delight for locals and tourists alike.  Our favorites include Cave Creek Regional Park, Lake Pleasant (week days), and Lost Dutchman State Park.  We’ve heard great things about other regional parks, but  can’t speak from personal experience due to a failure on my part in making a reservation.  wild donkeyWeekends book up and reservations are a must during the peak winter season.

That said, I love going to sleep in a rural setting being serenaded by coyotes and wild burros while the next day I’m able to take an easy twenty-minute drive to shop at a top drawer grocery store/mall or visit a one of a kind museum like the MIM (Musical Instrument Museum).

Or I can drive 45 minutes west and watch cotton being harvested, however if I drive 45 minutes east I can find myself exploring an old ghost town.  Seriously, this place has something for everyone.art gallery

Accommodations vary from rustic tent camping, to RV Park Resorts, to hotels, five-star all-inclusive resorts, to plenty of vacation rentals.  In other words, there’s no shortage of overnight options that’ll custom fit anyone’s taste buds.

giraffe

me, my son, and a friend

I haven’t always liked Phoenix, but the more time I spend here the more I like it.  Of course, it’s a bonus that both my children now live here, but there’s other relationships as well.

Since Phoenix is such a great place to visit, there’s no shortage of social opportunities. I love meeting up with fellow bloggers, RVer’s, or long-lost friends.

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from a friend whom I hadn’t seen in twenty-three years.  She and I were in a play group together back in the Chicago suburbs when our children were little.  In the early 1990’s, Marianne and her family moved to California while my family and I moved to Nevada.  Once a year we’d exchange Christmas cards while keeping up with each others ever changing addresses.

Marianne and I enjoy tea and crumpets at the English Rose Tea Room in Carefree, AZ. We haven't changed a bit in twenty-three years ;-)

Marianne and I enjoy tea and crumpets at the English Rose Tea Room in Carefree, AZ.  Hmm… there were crumpets on those plates! We haven’t changed a bit in twenty-three years 😉

I picked Marianne up at her son’s home here in Phoenix and the two of us headed out for tea and crumpets.  After five hours of visiting, we bid farewell with the promise of getting together again soon.  Although she and her husband live in Florida full time, they do enjoy regular visits to Phoenix to see their son.  Thus, I’m sure it won’t be another twenty some years before our next luncheon or tea time 🙂

cactusAnd since we’re speaking of tea, I realize the desert isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  Me? I’m intrigued by the harsh desert landscape and fascinated by the vegetation and wildlife that are able to thrive in such an unforgiving environment.

I love the diversity of activities available, the weather (well, not the summer), and all the friendships, new and old, that we’ve made since we started visiting the valley of the sun.  I love hanging with my children and although I always hate saying good-bye, the itch to hitch has set in thus the wheels on the RV will start going round and round in a few days, BUT “we’ll be back“!

Love

May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. And rain fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

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82 thoughts on “Why we winter in Phoenix

  1. Stunning photos as always, Ingrid. Just saw you in my likes and wondered why you hadn’t posted in a while. Seems you’d fallen off my ‘follow’ list. Sorry! 😳 Love your sunrise and sunset shots. 🙂

  2. Of the Regional Parks we visited this winter Cave Creek still tops the list. We’ve had such a wonderful winter here it will be hard to stay away next year. Reconnecting with friends from past lives is something we’ve enjoyed doing in this lifestyle. Safe travels…we’ll see you in ID.

    • Cave Creek remains one of our favorites as well. Phoenix is ideal for connecting with friends and it’s usually the highlight of our visits. Look forward to seeing you guys this summer 🙂

    • I was hoping to add a few more informative posts about Phoenix before hitting the road, but I’m still dealing with computer issues…. grrrr. My son’s old laptop only works when the internet strength in strong which has been sporadic. I’ve decided not to buy a new computer until we’re back in Phx in the fall. I don’t want to be in Timbuktu if I encounter another repeat of the last new purchase. Next winter we plan on moving around a bit more. Perhaps we’ll bump into the “dogs”!

      • Sorry to hear about the computer issues there’s nothing more frustrating to a blogger. Neither of us very tech savvy but Ever since we switched to apple our lives have been substantially less frustrating and stressful ….. It’s worth the extra $

  3. I have to agree Phoenix has something for everyone. I have family and friends that live there and loved to escape the cold of Reno to Phoenix during the winter months. In moving to Florida I do not have to experience winter again unless I plan a trip to snow country. I do not miss the high summer heat of Reno though and have not experienced Phoenix in summer, but have been to Vegas in August and survived 100+ temps. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

    • We lived in Vegas years ago and I remember well how oppressive that heat can be. We one time drove from Las Vegas to Phoenix in July through the Mojave Desert…. 120 degrees!!! It’ll be interesting to see how our daughter handles her first summer in Phx. I expect to hear some complaints, but she sure enjoyed the winter and her snowless work commute.
      Glad the move to FL has worked out well for you.

  4. Wild burros? How fun is that! Arizona is definitely on our list of places to visit someday. My only real experience was a three-day training session about ten years ago in Chandler in July. O.M.G. I thought I would absolutely die from the heat! The coolest it got was in the 90s at night. Looking forward to seeing where you are headed for the warmer months!

    • Yeah, I would never recommend visiting the desert during the summer. It does get HOT. The wild burros are entertaining to watch. The ones around here are elusive and keep a far distance from people but their loud braying sound carries especially at night and always makes me laugh.
      We’re heading to Idaho for the summer. Hopefully I’ll have a better internet strength and this old laptop will hold up for postings. Fingers crossed it’ll be a good summer!

  5. I did a double take when I got to the bit about sleeping in a rural setting. The first time I read it as “serenaded by coyotes and wild burritos .” I think my brain may be telling me I need a snack.

    • Awe, thank you and totally agree about the sun in the winter. When temps start getting into the 90’s, a little cloud cover is always welcome.

  6. Lovely post. I am glad you are loving it there. I love to visit as long as it isn’t over 110 or so. But, even then I always find something fun to do down there. Keep those posts coming! Lovely photos too.

    • Thanks… I managed to discover a bunch of new (to me) stuff this winter and if it hadn’t been for all my computer and internet issues, I had planned on sharing. Oh, well – more blog material for next season. It’s starting to warm up around here so I think we’ll start heading north for other new sights.

    • It has taken me several visits for me to embrace the area and now it feels a bit like home. Although I’m sure part of that has to do with family. I seem to be collecting quotes and thought this one appropriate. We had a wonderful winter here in Phx as well as TX and am hoping next season is equally as enjoyable.

    • No shortage of sunshine around here which is just one reason this is a great spot to winter. We’re heading north toward cooler temps and overcast skies. Love having variety 🙂

  7. Ingrid – As always stunning photographs, especially the colours of the sunsets.

    I found your post an interesting read and we may return and give the area a second chance. We enjoyed the heat and sunshine, but the lack of humidity and lawns was a real culture shock for us, especially having lived within a few miles of the coast my entire life.

    Next winter we are trying to schedule a month at Indio, which has similar weather, but with irrigation they have lots of green grass. Might even try a couple of weeks at Borrego Springs.

    • Yes, the lack of lushness is a challenge for some people. The first time I visited the Phoenix Botanical Garden resulted in me wrinkling up my nose. It seemed dirty, brown, and lacking polish especially compared to the Denver Botanic Garden. But viewing the garden through my camera lens has helped me discover the unique beauty and an intriguing eco system that makes the Sonoran Desert special.
      We spent a few days in Yuma last week and were fascinated by all the agriculture. We definitely plan on returning to that area next winter for a visit when the lettuce is ready to harvest. The beauty of the RV lifestyle is everything is temporary and I enjoy embracing the diversity.

    • Thank you Amy. A few weeks ago my daughter spent a week in Plano TX for business and encountered her first tornado warning and severe hail storm. She’s decided Phoenix is working out just fine and her push to move to Texas has waned if not disappeared 😆

  8. You definitely have many reasons to love Phoenix — at the top of the list, of course, are having your daughter and son there. Nice that they settled in a place that you enjoy so much. Gorgeous sunset, and sweet photo of the two of you. Happy travels!

    • If it weren’t for the children, I’m not sure we would’ve spent so much time in Phoenix the last few years and I would’ve missed out on so many discoveries. It has been a pleasant surprise. Let me know if your travels will take you anywhere near Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. We’ll be near there most of the summer.

  9. We’ve loved the Valley of the Sun for all our adult lives and are so lucky to be able to spend lots of time there. You captured its allure perfectly. We look forward to another winter there next year and hope to cross paths with you then…..if not sooner. Where are you headed now?

    • We’re heading up through Page, Panguitch, Salt Lake and then Arco, Idaho for the summer for a little workamping. Should be an enlightening adventure. We will definitely be back in Phoenix on and off all winter thus I’m sure we’ll manage to squeeze in a little cocktail time with you guys somewhere 🙂

    • Haha…. isn’t work a four letter word 😆 Since we won’t see you two this summer, hopefully we’ll see you in Phoenix on one of your visits. Keep us posted!

  10. We will have to get over that way next winter, we were a mere hour or so away. it looks like there is a lot to do and some great restaurants as well….that is one thing Quartzsite was lacking.

    • We managed a sixteen day stay in Q a few winters back giving us our fill with no interest for a repeat. Because you guys are shooters, I can recommend a great place for you to stay at a reasonable price at the north end of Phoenix. Convenient to everything. We’ll be in and out of Phx all winter and plan on spending Jan and Feb in Texas. We had such a great January there that we decided to stay an extra month. Ducks in Jan and fish in Feb. Sounds like a plan, eh!

    • The sunsets are the absolute best you’ll see anywhere. We will NEED to plan a get together around the RV where you and I do the cooking 🙂

    • There’s no shortage of things to see or do around Phoenix, but the best part has been the connections and friendships. It has been a fun winter.

    • It’s extremely different from anything you’ll see on the east coast. A lot of people coming from east of the Rockies have a difficult time embracing the harsh landscape and then there are those of us that love it.

      • I have a feeling I would love it! When I was first hired with my dream job, we were given an opportunity to request locations we would prefer to be transferred to. I did put down Phoenix and Albuquerque, New Mexico. My husband said just put down any coastal city, as he wanted to be on water. I guess we did OK, we got Mobile, Alabama. I visited Albuquerque before I was married, and then was sent to Phoenix for an in-service. I loved both areas. I guess I’ll just have to be happy with visiting there one day. Unless miraculously my daughter and son-in-law can get jobs out that way, we will be stuck living on the East Coast…. But we’re planning to be in the SW next Jan-Feb. The Lord willing!

    • Thanks Debbie. The desert can take some getting used to, but my daughter has rapidly adjusted and embraced it whole heartedly, much to my delight. Phx has begun to feel like ‘home’ to me.

  11. Love that sunset and the burrow. Such beautiful pictures! We enjoy the desert too. Variety is the spice of life. Safe travels!

    • Well said… I love my time here in the desert but always look forward to a little time along the Gulf Coast. Variety is the best!

    • Interesting insight! We did a quick jaunt down to Yuma last week and were talking about you guys. Hopefully we’ll be able to connect again somewhere in the desert next winter.

  12. Miss those cactus flowers and desert blooms! Where did you photograph the burro at? What a great shot. psssstttt Guess who’s getting a white streak (or two or more) like you now? 🙂

  13. We love winters in Phoenix and Tuscon. We plan to be out that way next winter. Hope we can meet up again. Enjoy your spring.

    • It would be wonderful to connect again. Hopefully you’ll slow down the travels a little and hang around the area a little longer.

  14. I have a friend that lives in Phoenix that has invited me and the hounds to stay as long as we like. Hopefully next winter we will make to that great city.

    • I can’t believe you haven’t taken the friend up on the offer yet and escaped the Indiana winter at least for a little bit. I do not miss snow and my daughter only took one trip up to Flagstaff this winter for her snow fix. She has not missed her winter work commutes in Denver. Keep me posted if you visit Phoenix. I’d love to meet the hounds…. and maybe their dad 😆

  15. The valley of the sun has really grown on you with all the great and right reasons. And like you we will be back one winter again and see those vibrant cacti blooms. Love that cholla flower capture, well done!
    And the “love” models really enhanced the sign with complimenting color get up.

    • Thanks ML and you know with both kiddies here, we’ll spend a fair amount of time in and out of Phoenix regularly. Thus, you’ll always know where to find me and the area has grown on me.

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