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Best kept secret in camping

November 3, 2010 by Rex Vogel · 9 Comments  
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One of the best kept secrets in the World of RVing is campgrounds located in county parks! But where are they, and how do you find them?

Sometimes they’re located in Woodall’s and Trailer Life Campground Directory. Often times they’re not. County parks are often relatively small and off the beaten path. But if you’re looking for a quiet place to relax, do some bird watching, hike a near-by trail, or do some great sightseeing, it might be well worth seeking out some of these neat spots.

Maricopa County Regional Parks, AZ

Enjoying the Sonoran Desert at Cave Creek Regional Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Enjoying the Sonoran Desert at Cave Creek Regional Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A county park system worth checking out is Maricopa County Regional Parks in Arizona. The parks circle the Phoenix metropolitan area and all are within a 45-minute drive from central Phoenix. And unlike Arizona State Parks, no Maricopa County park has been closed or has suffered cutback in services.

With 10 regional parks totaling more than 120,000 acres, Maricopa County Regional Parks feature the nation’s largest county park system.

So many local attractions and the great variety of outdoor recreation are sure to keep you coming back over and over.

The park system began in 1954 to preserve the mountain areas for future generations to enjoy. A federal act in the 1970s called the Recreation and Public Purposes Act allowed Maricopa County to acquire thousands of acres of parkland from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at $2.50 an acre. A combination of leased and purchased land has allowed this department to develop a regional park system that preserves open space and provides the residents of Maricopa County with an opportunity to enjoy “Natural Arizona.”

The positive surroundings and the competently maintained facilities attract people from near and far including numerous snowbirds that have discovered this central Arizona gem.

Please note

Not all parks have developed camping facilities.

An amazing display of spring wildflowers at Lake Pleasant Regional Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

An amazing display of spring wildflowers at Lake Pleasant Regional Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Currently all camping sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

County parks will be unveiling a new reservation system this winter. Campers have been asking for a system that would allow them to reserve a campsite prior to arriving at the park.

All trails within the Maricopa County Park System are for non-motorized use only.

Free camping
Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department is offering free camping until Wednesday, November 10, 2010. Visitors who pay the camping fee for one night will receive the next night of equal value for free. Offer NOT valid for group campground reservations or unit fees. Limit of one free night per family, household, and/or group in a seven day period (Monday through Sunday). Rain checks will NOT be issued if space is not available. Offer NOT valid at Lake Pleasant Regional Park.

For additional information visit the Maricopa County Regional Parks website or phone (602) 506-2930.

Maricopa Regional Parks
Adobe Dam Regional Park
Information: (602) 506-2930
Location: 23280 N. 43rd Avenue, Glendale, AZ 85310
Camping is prohibited; day use only

Buckeye Hills Regional Park
Information: (623) 932-3811
Location: 26700 West Buckeye Hills Drive, Buckeye, AZ 85326
Camping is primitive

Cave Creek Regional Park
Information: (623) 465-0431
Location: 37019 N. Lava Lane, Cave Creek, AZ 85331
Cave Creek offers 38 developed camping sites suitable for RVs of all sizes, with water and electric hook-ups
Group camping available

Estrella Mountain Regional Park
Information: (623) 932-3811
Location: 14805 West Vineyard Avenue, Goodyear, AZ 85338
Estrella Mountain offers seven developed camping sites suitable for RVs of all sizes, with water and electrical hook-ups
Group camping available

Lake Pleasant Regional Park
Information: (928) 501-1710 (Contact Station) or (602) 372-7460 (Operations Center)
Location: 41835 N. Castle Hot Springs Rd., Morristown, AZ 85342
Lake Pleasant offers 72 developed camping sites suitable for RVs of all sizes, with water and electrical hook-ups at Roadrunner Campground and another 25 at Desert Tortoise Campground; and 41 semi-developed sites at Desert Tortoise Campground
Group camping available

McDowell Mountain Regional Park
Information: (480) 471-0173
Location: 16300 McDowell Mountain Park Dr., Fountain Hills, Arizona 85255
McDowell Mountain offers 76 developed camping sites suitable for RVs of all sizes, with water and electrical hook-ups
Group camping available

San Tan Mountain Regional Park

San Tan Regional Park is a hikers' delight. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

San Tan Regional Park is a hikers' delight. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Information: (602) 506-2930
Location: 6533 West Phillips Road, Queen Creek Arizona 85242
Camping is prohibited; day use only

Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area
Information: (480) 488-6601
Location: 44000 N. Spur Cross Road, Cave Creek, AZ 85331
The newest addition to Maricopa County Regional Parks System, the conservation area in the north Valley encompasses 2,154 acres of diverse, rugged upper Sonoran Desert.
Camping is prohibited; day use only
The area is slated for future development

Usery Mountain Regional Park
Information: (480) 984-0032
Location: 3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesa, AZ 85207
Usery Mountain offers 73 developed camping sites suitable for RVs of all sizes, with water and electrical hook-ups
Group camping available

White Tank Mountain Regional Park
Information: (623) 935-2505
Location: 13025 N. White Tank Mountain Road, Waddell, AZ 85355
White Tank Mountain offers 40 semi-developed sites with no water/electrical hook-ups
Group camping available

To be continued…

Worth Pondering…
When I walk in the desert the birds sing very beautifully
When I walk in the desert the trees wave their branches in the breeze
When I walk in the desert the tall saguaro wave their arms way up high
When I walk in the desert the animals stop to look at me as if they were saying
“Welcome to our home.”
—Jeanette Chico, When It Rains

If you enjoyed this article, you might also wish to read

Cave Creek Regional Park, AZ

Usery Mountain Regional Park, AZ

Lake Pleasant Regional Park, AZ

San Tan Mountain Regional Park, AZ

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Comments

9 Responses to “Best kept secret in camping”

  1. Bob Difley on November 3rd, 2010 4:18 pm

    Rex – Good information and a page to add to one’s campground directory for finding all those alternative camping locations in Maricopa’s county parks.

  2. Thomas Becher on November 3rd, 2010 5:13 pm

    A FREE ? listing. What will Trailer Life Directory and Woodalls do? There are thousands of campgrounds around the country but only if you pay do you get in the books. I sure would like something that at least gives a phone # and address so a guy could call. Don’t always need all the details. When traveling I never know where we might end up and tired and no Good Sams campground for 100 miles,But there might be a mom and pop campground just up the street from where we are. Something easy like a phone book. Sure would like to know about it before we blow by and can’t turn around for miles.

  3. Jim on November 3rd, 2010 5:25 pm

    Good article. We spent 6 weeks at three Maricopa parks last year. Usery, McDowell Mountain and Cave Creek. Really enjoyed the first two.

    Since we like to hike I would never go back to Cave Creek. I have never dodged or smelled so much horse manure in my life. They have a stable on premises and take guided tours multiple times a day. All that crap adds up.

  4. HandiGrammi on November 3rd, 2010 5:57 pm

    Can imagine many of your readers are park lovers and might want to check out the this posting:

    Natl Parks FREE to all on Vet’s Day
    posted by HandiGrammi at Grand Gifts Made Simple – 1 day ago

    http://handigrammigiftpicks.blogspot.com/2010_11_02_archive.html#2518151413266197626

    Thanks for this great site — can’t wait to get the house sold and the RV bought :)

  5. rag-ftw on November 3rd, 2010 6:51 pm

    GREAT article. I have a grandaughter that lives in Glendale and finding a spot close is sometimes a chore.

    I also really like the idea of someone publishing a phone book directory of all campgrounds in the US, not just the ones that pay to get in the major pubs. Tht would be a good forum to start on the internet with everyone contributing.

    Thanks again for the info,
    bob g

  6. Linda M on November 3rd, 2010 8:48 pm

    There is a publication called “The Next Exit” which describes the businesses located near each exit of our interstate system. It does list some campgrounds. May be helpful if you are on the interstate.

  7. Daniel on November 3rd, 2010 11:51 pm

    Great article.. are there Hook ups in those C.G?
    Would like to to know how to locate County C.G all over the US
    Thanks

  8. Manuel Enos on November 4th, 2010 8:08 am

    To add to your list – Recently my wife and I were planning our trip to Toad Suck, Ar and the park at Lake Lureen, Al was unavailabe due to big football game in Tuscaloosa. So, we looked at our Good Sam Atlas and found a great park in Greeville, Al about 20 miles off our original route..Sherling Lake Campground owned and operated by the city of Greenville, Al – very clean, full hookup, fishing, lake, and close to a major town and I-65…$25.00 per night…Check it out – be assured, we will stay there again on our way through Al and Ms…One last thing, the host and operators of the park are outstanding!!

  9. W6PEA on November 6th, 2010 11:56 pm

    Thanks for posting the article some more campsites to look for.

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