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Thursday, December 17, 2009


Our Opinion: Rave.  This large regional park has spacious sites and good hiking trails, adjacent to an urban area (Phoenix, AZ).

Classic desert scene at Usery Mountain ParkDate of Stay: December 15th through 19th, 2009.

Weather During Stay:  Lovely mild southwest winter weather.  Lows at night in the low 50’s, daytime highs in the 70’s.  Mostly blue skies.

Site Description:  Our site (27) is a very spacious back-in, aligned mostly east-west, perfect to capture the sun’s morning warmth.  The reasonably level, gravel pad is suitably sized for a big rig, with lots of level, graveled space behind.  A Palo Verde provides shade and privacy on the south (patio) side.

Of the 75 sites available, it looks as though half a dozen are occupied by hosts - and it shows in the meticulous maintenance of the sites.  Both “pullout” and back in sites are available (predominantly back ins).  All sites are raked gravel, with large concrete picnic tables, fire rings and grills at each site.  All sites have water and 30/50 amps.  Most sites can accommodate big rigs, and most sites are level enough – but we did see several that are too sloped for our use.

Typical back-in site at Usery Mountain Park This is a huge park, and the campground designers did not skimp on space. Several restrooms (with showers); adequate dumpsters.  Spacious dump station available. 

Rate: W/E sites are $25/night.  No senior discount; no weekly discount.  Camping fee includes use of dump station.  All sites are first-come, first-served, no reservations.  14 day consecutive stay limit enforced, but only one night out required before you return. 

Phone/radio/TV: Verizon service is good on both the aircard and phones.  No obstacles for roof mounted TV satellite. All networks, PBS, and a few independents on rooftop antenna. NPR on 91.5 (probably others as well).

Huge site 27 at Usery Mountain ParkElevation/Landscape/Terrain:  This is gently rolling terrain, punctuated by arid hills and stony mountains.  Fairly dense desert vegetation: palo verde, saguaro, barrel and cholla… very appealing desert scenery.   Elevation is 2,000 feet above sea level.  Views from the campground are of other (reasonably distant) campers, cactus, multitudes of birds, and high, rocky mountain outcroppings.  Distant views of the city lights at night.

Lighting/Noise: No streetlights in the camping loop (a good thing), but the restrooms have fairly bright lighting at night.  We were positioned so that wasn’t a bother.  Very little urban  noise of any kind.

Favorite Sites: Many, many, appealing sites here.  Choose according to your sun exposure and view preference.  As usual, we prefer perimeter sites to the interior sites, and back-ins to pullouts.

Site Spacing with pullout site on rightHiking/Walking:  Walking the loop road of this campground is pleasant for a stroll, or take the half-mile nature trail.  Trailheads for several longer hikes are a short drive from the campground.  We enjoyed the birds-eye view from Wind Cave, and a viewpoint on the Pass Mountain Trail.  Trail maps and information are available at the check-in kiosk.

Comments: This park is a lovely oasis next to densely populated Phoenix, AZ.  The campground occupies a small area of the park, which includes substantial day use areas, numerous trails, and a horse staging area.  November and December would be ideal times to visit - the campground was half full during our stay, but is full daily from mid-January through the end of March.


Ernie said...

One of the best campgrounds wife and I have been to. Going back in april.

Merri and Steve said...

This is a fabulous Park! Close enough to be called my back yard, LOL! I've camped here with a 5th wheel and TC (which we no longer have at the moment). Description above is totally accurate. Do watch the sites as some are pretty sloped. Also as mentioned if you get the outside rim you can see the city lights. Hopefully you'll hear the coyotes but do be careful, they come close to camp. Enjoy! You won't be disappointed!