More Water, Less Wind – Lake Pleasant

As much as we loved our campsite along the Colorado River at the Davis Park, the winds in Bullhead City were relentless. Thus, it was time for us to move on and head back over to Phoenix. After a little internet research, I discovered the Maricopa Regional Park system, particularly Lake Pleasant Regional Park. Ah yes, more water and hopefully less wind.

Lake Pleasant Regional Park – March 6, 2012

With more than 23,000 acres of water and surrounded by the beautiful Sonoran desert, Lake Pleasant Regional Park is a popular recreation area located in the town of Peoria on the far northwest side of the Phoenix Arizona Valley. This desert oasis was exactly what we were looking for. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to secure a campsite reservation online so we decided to just show up and see what camping options were available. One can hope for a campsite cancellation.

Bullhead City, Arizona (Davis Park Camp) to Lake Pleasant

After our three-plus-hour drive from Bullhead City to Lake Pleasant, we pulled up to the Lake Pleasant fee station and confirmed that the campgrounds were indeed booked. Sigh, no cancellations! We asked the ranger for camping options. She precedes to tell us and show us on the map all the boondocking areas, but her favorite and her recommendation would be the 10 lane boat ramp. A boat ramp? Did we just hear that right?

I’ll admit, after driving all morning, Al and I were a little on the tired side and didn’t fully comprehend all that she said, “There are lots of places to park at the spillway which is just past the 10 lane boat rampthere are two ways to get there, but I only recommend one yadda … yadda … yadda.” I think we were more confused by her information and directions than enlightened. We paid our daily admittance fee along with two nights of shoreline boondocking and headed off in search of this place to camp that she recommended.

Boondocking at Lake Pleasant at the spillway

Before we even hit the road, Al and I had made a promise to each other that when it came time to search out boondocking spots, we would first explore without the RV in tow. We’d call it a scouting mission and this mission would help us avoid getting ourselves into a pickle. Great plan … when implemented.

Boondocking is a term used by RVers to describe RV camping without being connected to services – no water, no electric, no sewer. Unlike dry camping, boondocking is dispersed camping that is not located in a designated campground. Popular boondocking locations are in National Forests or even approved parking lots like a Walmart.

We loved our boondocking spot along the shores of Lake Pleasant

Accident averted!

We were off in search of a campsite. After the first correct turn, Al and I asked each other where we were supposed to turn next. We were both confused. It was either fatigue or information overload that found us turning onto Sunset Ridge Road, and just as the name implies, it’s a road on a ridge. The paved road quickly turns into a dirt road that eventually winds its way down to the shoreline. Not exactly an RV-friendly road. We soon realized our mistake and stopped before venturing further down the dirt road and further into a situation that we couldn’t safely get out of.

It was at that moment that we had our aha moment and realized, after the fact, that this was the route that the ranger didn’t recommend. Eek! Time to make a quick decision. Al and I jumped out of the truck (fortunately, we were all alone … no witnesses, thank goodness) and assess the situation. Al was pretty sure the tight turning radius capability with a 5th wheel would allow him to turn around. If he’s wrong? … well, guess he’ll go tumbling off the side of the hill. Hmm, did I pay that life insurance bill? Snicker! In all seriousness, we were both pretty stressed and concerned. We preceded with extreme caution. I serve as a spotter while Al makes the tight and precarious turnaround. This turn was so tight that it would not have possible with a travel trailer, and we are so grateful we have a 5th wheel. The next day, we confirmed that we made a wise decision and that it definitely would not have been a good idea to continue any further on this road. Oh, we probably could’ve made it, but not without some possible RV undercarriage damage.

With the turnaround successful and a mishap avoided, we gathered our composure and eventually found the correct turn and the spillway. Ah yes, this will work nicely! We settle in for a couple of nights and end up extending our stay several times for a total of ten days camped along the shores of Lake Pleasant.

We’re the 5th wheel on the right. Kay and Tom are on the left. The RV in between us was only there a night.
Friday afternoon, the RVs started rolling in. The Class A motorhomes on the right, were a bunch of friends camping together.
And the RVs kept showing up and filling in every square inch of shoreline!

Meeting interesting people!

During the weekdays, we practically had our perfect waterfront campsite to ourselves. The weekends were a whole different story … jam-packed might adequately describe it. On warm sunny days, every square inch of shoreline is occupied with people as locals flock to Lake Pleasant in droves for weekend water recreation. This is when Lake Pleasant isn’t so pleasant.

More than once, we witnessed ignorant and rude behavior, even a verbal fight that almost turned into a fistfight. Case in point – ignorant behavior; It was a beautiful Friday in March and there was a steady stream of weekend warriors rolling in all day in all kinds of RVs. By late afternoon, the shoreline was packed with RVs and new arrivals started setting up camp in the rest of the paved lot. Earlier that day, neighbor Tom had parked his truck on the other side of his RV so he wouldn’t accidentally get blocked in by a new arrival as well as be neighborly, and we did the same.

Late Saturday afternoon as I was returning to our RV after walking the dog, I watched a large motorhome squeeze, and I mean squeeze, in between Tom and Kay’s RV and another RV to their right. I’m not exaggerating when I say the side of that motorhome was maybe three feet away from the front nose of Tom and Kay’s 5th wheel and maybe less to the neighboring RV. To top it off, the motorhome pulled all the way up to the water’s edge then immediately started the generator which caused the exhaust to blow straight at Tom and Kay who were sitting outside trying to enjoy a quiet evening with plans to watch the sunset. Oh, and because the generator was so loud, the motorhome folks had to play their music even louder.

By 10:00 a.m. the next morning, the motorhome home had pulled out along with other RVers, and by late Sunday afternoon, the majority of RVs around us had departed returning Lake Pleasant to pleasant once again. When we noticed Kay and Tom sitting outside, we walked over to discuss the audacity of that motorhome the evening before. These folks were in their 12th year of full-time RV living and Al and I were in awe. We had so many questions. They took the motorhome event in stride and shared more RV bad behavior stories that they’d witness over the years. We learned a lot from these two and were sad to see them leave the next day.

It didn’t take long before we had new neighbors. These friendly RV folks were quick to come over and introduce themselves. Once again, the conversation flowed smoothly, and we discovered not only did we have similar 5th wheels, but we shared a similar background in aviation. However, there was one subject where we were definitely not on the same page. 

Turns out, this delightful couple had just spent six weeks camped in Quartzsite … at the magic circle. Say what? Oh my, another clothing-optional couple! Al and I began to wonder if we were some kind of magnet or if we had a sort of look. Thankfully, they weren’t into spouse swapping like the Lake Havasu neighbor, but they did share plenty of photos of their clothing-optional vacations from around the world; their favorite being in the south of France. TMI folks!

Aside from these seasoned RVers sharing a little too much of their too little clothing lifestyle, they enlightened these RV newbies on solar panels, batteries, and making RV modifications; information Al and I gladly soaked up. We appreciated their time and knowledge.

Enjoying lake life!

Although we relished engaging with fellow RVers, we enjoyed plenty of quiet time as well … time to sit, relax, and reflect on life. I think Al and I needed that downtime … time to watch the clouds pass overhead and the ducks paddle by.

26 thoughts on “More Water, Less Wind – Lake Pleasant

  1. I’m a recent transplant to Arizona and LIVE lake Pleasant.
    Just a reminder that it’s a reservoir and the water level changes almost daily. Your campsite is currently underwater. The lake will keep coming up until late spring, then drop throughout the summer.
    By July your lakefront site will be 1/4 mile or so from the water.

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    1. We enjoy Lake Pleasant but have never seen it in the summer. We do know it’s always a lot fuller in Spring/summer than it is during the winter. We spend half our year in Phoenix.

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  2. Ingrid, I’m so glad you were able to get turned around! Glad you enjoyed your stay once you found your destination! I think every RV’er has experienced rude, inconsiderate campers.

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    1. We learned so many lessons on that road trip with plenty more to learn in the future. Yeah, people are people whether we’re RVing or not. We just had new neighbors pull in yesterday and I along with another neighbor welcomed him to the neighborhood. The guy looked at us like we were aliens or something and just grunted something. Alrighty then, guess we won’t engage in further conversation. 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love your post! Check out White Tank Mountain Regional Park too. Great campground and amazing hiking trails and as an added benefit the rattlesnakes are back out!

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    1. Ah, love those rattle snakes! I’ve had one too many close calls, and it always gets the heart pounding. We were fortunate to hike at White Tanks after a rainfall.

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  4. Ahh so many ups and downs of traveling! And soooo many stories to tell!! 🤣 I love it! We have a few crazy stories I’m sure we will be telling for the rest of our lives! Lol

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    1. That’s the fun of traveling … never a dull moment. I’m sure as you continue to explore Utah, you’ll collect plenty of fun stories especially with your children.

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    1. We love staying at Cave Creek Reg Park and have done so many times. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of the Maricopa County Regional Parks and then, of course, there’s Lost Dutchman SP, one of my favorites. There are so many great options for camping throughout the Phoenix valley.

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  5. Hi, Ingrid – I love how you so candidly share the highs and the lows of RV life. I learn a great deal from your posts — and get to have much virtual travel (which I desperately need right now). Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. Ah, the RV life can indeed be a roller coaster, but then again, so is life. I think we’re all ready to break out of our cages and roam freely. I already have several reservations set up for this summer and can’t wait!

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  6. Love the picture of the lizards.

    We learned really quickly this last winter in Arizona that everything fills up on the weekend and that people have no problem invading your personal space.

    We have some sailing friends who are nudist. I guess most of their other friends are a bit conservative and don’t know about their propensity to walk naked on the beach but for some reason they decided that they could share it with us. No big deal but I prefer to keep my clothes on.

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    1. I hear ya, it didn’t bother us that they enjoy the freedom of nudity … gosh, in my younger days, I would join in at a topless beach, but what was weird was the constant talk and sharing of their lifestyle. Too many pics 🤣 TMI.
      For the first time in a very long time, I set up a bunch of reservations for the summer in MN and the UP. I learned my lesson last year when places I hoped to boondock were closed. Fingers crossed, we don’t run into issues this summer 🤞

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  7. I read this post with much interest. My husband just purchased a 33’ Class A. We live in San Tan Valley, AZ. Wanting to give it a test run before we head off in May for 4 months, he made reservations at Crazy Horse RV Park at Lake Havasu (We’re newbies to Arizona also). When we told our friends and family, they told us that the spring break kids go there to party. I checked online when the universities in AZ have spring break. Fortunately, they canceled all state university spring breaks due to Covid. Now I’m learning that clothing seems to be optional there??! ! Lake Pleasant sounds like a place we will need to check out. Thanks for sharing this much needed information. Next week should be an eye opener—or eye closer! Haha!

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    1. Welcome to the RV lifestyle. I have no doubt you’ll have a great time, just know, there is a learning curve. Lost Dutchman State Park is a favorite of ours and not too far from you. We spend our winters in an RV park near Anthem (far north end of Phx off the 17). Keep me posted if you’d ever like to meet up, and in the meantime have a great trip.

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  8. Ya know, we met an older couple who was into the ‘clothing optional’ thing and they could not stop talking about it either. I’m not gonna lie – it was a little weird. Especially cuz they had grown kids who were about our age… Maybe it’s a thing: once you’re in the group, you gotta share the gospel? I dunno. I’ll happily stay over here. Full clothed. Thank you very much.

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    1. Oh how funny! They sound exactly like the couple we met from WA. Their adult daughter knew about their little secret but their son did not. They said he’d be mortified. We found it a bit weird as well … the fact that they continued to keep sharing even though we made it clear that we prefer our clothing 😏 Oh well, we were entertained and learned a lot.

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  9. You and Al got more experience as you went along…we know that feeling! I’m always stunned at the audacity of some people who just don’t get the RV or camping experience. As for RV campground fun, the man next to us was removed after his altercation with a young man a few spaces away. Let’s just say that after the sheriff’s hauled him away, CSI went through his RV and it’s rumored he was a sex offender. Yay! I’m glad Lake Pleasant was more pleasant than not!

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    1. Oh my gosh! Glad he was removed from the RV park. I’d say 90% of the RVers out there are friendly but not all understand the unwritten rules of camping. RV dealerships should make newbies watch a 15-minute video on RVing etiquette before they drive off the lot. 😁

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      1. It’s sad to say something like this is needed, but I love your idea, Ingrid. It would be wonderful if campgrounds handed out flyers on etiquette at check in, too, or printed that info on the back of their maps. In families with a history of camping, I think camping etiquette is often passed down from one generation to the next, but newcomers don’t have that advantage.

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        1. I think you’re right about generational camping, but these days there are so many newbies. At the RV park where we winter, RVers are literally handed pages of rules and etiquette guidelines. Complaints are taken very seriously and some guests are actually told they are not welcome to return. It may sound harsh at first, but it does make living here very enjoyable as most everyone is friendly, helpful, and respectful. 😊

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