Winter Guests and Urban-ish Arizona Camping

Winter Guests and Urban-ish Phoenix Area Camping - Camping For Foodies .com
Winter Guests and Urban-ish Phoenix Area Camping – Camping For Foodies .com

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Excerpt from a phone conversation:

Me:  Are you saying you want to camp, hike, go to the MIM (Musical Instrument Museum), hang out at the Phoenix Open and see Cavalia …and you’re only here for 4 days?

East Coast Visitor:  Yeah—is that a problem?

Me:  Uh…no.  We can make that happen!

How do you mesh the peacefulness of dispersed camping with the excitement of fast-paced city entertainment?

When your out-of-state family and friends want a jam-packed “dispersed/urban camping experience,” you might be at a loss.  Don’t despair; I’ve got just the place for you!  In the Tonto National Forest you can “cross the border” and enter the quiet world of dispersed camping while still being within driving distance to the Valley’s entertainment options.

At some spots here, you feel like you’re in a luxury home neighborhood—with views of the Rio Verde and Tonto Verde neighborhoods.  We like the isolated, nature-focused feel of dispersed campsites so we find a spot that is a little lower in elevation, blocking the view of the neighboring houses. From this location you will see the paragliders and ultralights that fly off of the unimproved dirt strip of the desert floor.  If you flag them over, they’ll even dive down to say “hi”…don’t worry, this is all in good fun and nobody got hurt! 

Buzzing paraglider
Buzzing paraglider

You can also hike along the riverbed and catch glimpses of wildlife.  And, don’t forget to reserve at least one night for sipping a cocktail while watching the sky turn fantastic shades of yellow, orange and red as it sets over the horizon.

Spectacular Arizona sunset from the campsite
Spectacular Arizona sunset from the campsite

Within a short driving distance you can experience the McDowell Mountain Regional Park for hiking and have options for improved campsites with water and electric hookups.  The last time we were there (before the reservation system was in place and it was a first-come-first-served basis for campsites), the main sites were full and the overflow sites were the only options—we felt like we were in a large parking lot with dumpsters and RVs surrounding us…No Thanks!  Needless-to-say, we didn’t stay and instead opted for the dispersed site in Tonto National Forest.  A park pass is required for the Tonto National Forest.  Given the choice, we always choose a dispersed setting.  The remoteness and lack of masses of RVs, give us the “getaway” we enjoy.  So here’s how to get to one of my favorite dispersed/urban campsites.

What do you think?

What do you think? Leave me a comment…I’d love to hear from you!

I love sharing my recipes and tips for enjoying the great outdoors while camping, RV adventuring and relaxing in your own backyard. I’d love to hear what you think and if you’d like to share some of your secrets, I’d love to hear them too! Please leave a comment below and let’s chat.

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  1. That is a beautiful area, and if you keep your eyes open you’ll probably catch a glimpse of a Bald Eagle!

    1. Kim Hanna says:

      I have heard that before but have not had the pleasure. Will have to try again soon (with camera in hand and zoom lens ready!) Thanks for the tip!!!