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

Back on the Trails

Cave CreekAl and I are finally feeling like ourselves again.  That nasty crud that went around seemed to linger with a cough and lack of energy.  That being said, it felt wonderful to get back out on the trails…..hike more than thirty minutes that is. 

Cave Creek Regional Park has some great trails assessable from the campground or picnic area.  It’s Saturday morning and Al and I head out on the Clay Mine Trail.  We walk past the fenced off abandoned mine and continue up the steady incline toward the Overton Trail.  It’s a gorgeous, sunny Arizona morning.  Last night’s extreme winds have moved on leaving behind a light breeze………a very welcome breeze. Cave Creek

Shortly after passing the Clay Mine we pass a Park Ranger walking in the opposite direction.  I comment, “Beautiful morning”.  He responds with arms spread upward, “You like my office?  Sometimes I can’t believe I get paid to do this”.  Sounds like the dude really likes his job!   He continues, “Hey, I’ll be opening the mine and giving tours, if you’re interested”.  “Most definitely.  We’ll catch you on our return”, I respond. 

Al and I continue on our journey taking in the desert beauty.  Each Saguaro Cactus is original and unique.  Some of the Barrel Cactus sport the most amazing red thorns.  Hmmm….perhaps a separate post on cacti is in order 😉   As I continue to click away, hubby chuckles and says, “Are you sure you have enough photos of cactus?  You might want to take a few more”.  Yes, I detect his sarcasm, but each Saguaro Cactus seems to have its own personality. 

We complete the Overton Trail and pick up the Clay Mine Trail which will return us to the campground.  The fenced entranced to the mine is open.  A large storage container sits at the entrance.  Al and I reach inside and grab a hard hat before proceeding into the mine.  With hard hats on, we bend over walking through a narrow tunnel.  It isn’t long before we’re able to stand up in a carved out room and greeted by the Park Ranger. Cave Creek

The Ranger reiterates the story posted on a sign at the entrance of the mine.  He has a binder filled with copies of newspaper ads from the 1800’s.  Various elixirs and ointments were made from the chalky like substance extracted from the mine.  Most products were a mere “snake oil”.  However, one product was marketed primarily as a medicine to help with dysentery, similar to today’s Kaopectate.


Although this mine was closed many years ago, the mineral Kaolinite is still mined and used in many products currently available on the market such as soaps and cosmetic products.Kaolinite Mine

This was a fun little tidbit to end the mornings hike.  It’s back to camp for lunch and a shower.Cave Creek