The mountains and forests of Northern Arizona are always popular for spring camping trips, but don’t sleep on Phoenix. Maricopa County offers its own hidden camping treasures that you can enjoy without fighting traffic on the I-17. Explore these natural wonders with your tent, hiking boots and water bottle. maricopacountyparks.net
Lake Pleasant Regional Park
As Maricopa County’s only water-based park, Lake Pleasant Regional Park is the perfect way to cool down on a hot Arizona day. Lake Pleasant also has pontoons, fishing boats, ski boats and kayaks available for rent and a marina at Scorpion Bay for boaters to stock up on provisions. There are more than 300 covered and uncovered areas to dock boats and camp on the lake. For days when the lake is cold, the park also offers hiking, picnicking and wildlife viewing.
41835 N. Castle Hot Springs Rd., Morristown
Cave Creek Regional Park
Visiting Cave Creek Regional Park is like taking a time machine back to the days of the Hohokam Indians. Petroglyphs, stone huts, pit houses and irrigation ditches were left behind by the Hohokam people between 800 A.D. and 1400 A.D. The park also offers horseback riding, another way to explore the mining life of pioneers from 150 years ago. There are 44 campsites for tent or RV camping.
37019 N. Lava Ln., Cave Creek
McDowell Mountain Regional Park
Camp McDowell – the only remaining Territorial military fort in Maricopa County – was founded in 1865 on the Verde River and remained a military camp until 1890. It eventually led to a permanent settlement in the Salt River Valley and local civilization as we know it. The fort is located at McDowell Mountain Regional Park, known for its spectacular views and stunning mountains, and perfect for picnicking and sleeping under the stars.
16300 McDowell Mountain Park Dr., Scottsdale
Usery Mountain Regional Park
Usery Mountain Regional Park was named after King Usery, a cattleman running from the law. He was sentenced to seven years in prison, but was pardoned after two. After his second violation of the law, he disappeared. Usery Mountain Regional Park maintains a bit of its namesake’s mystery with picturesque views and hidden niches, but keeps it thoroughly modern with a fitness center, archery, hiking, horseback riding and biking as well as areas for camping.
3939 N. Usery Pass Rd., Mesa
Estrella Mountain Regional Park
A visit to Estrella Mountain Regional Park is a must for hiking and mountain biking enthusiasts. Covering approximately 19,840 acres, the second-largest park in Maricopa County includes 33 miles of trails that can be explored through hiking, biking or horseback riding. It also boasts a five-mile mountain biking track designed for experts and an eight-mile track for all skill levels. Seven RV sites make camping near the trails a cinch.
14805 W. Vineyard Ave., Goodyear
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