We visited McDowell Mountain Regional Park in April and it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time. 2018 was not my favorite thanks to a nonunion fracture in my foot but I finally feel like I’m getting my life back. Hallelujah!
A couple years ago we attended a bike demo at McDowell Mountain and have been wanting to go back ever since. Well, we finally made it happen. The park is located east of Phoenix and the campground sits in the middle of tons of mountain bike and hiking trails. Literally, almost every single campsite had mountain bikes so I take it most visitors come to ride bikes. The trails are my favorite kind – fun, flowy XC trails. The Husband wasn’t as much of a fan – he prefers more technical riding but Little Miss and I were in heaven.
My new favorite Friday night camping hack is to pick up a pizza on the way to the campground. We used to pick up a rotisserie chicken to make Frito tacos but pizza is so much easier. My favorite pizza restaurant has locations in Phoenix and Sedona and it happened to be on the way to the campground. Score!
Saturday morning The Husband and I got up with the sun to ride bikes. Teenagers aren’t fans of early morning anything so we let them sleep in. We had an enjoyable ride but it got hot fast. I don’t have much of a heat tolerance so that probably didn’t help matters but it was hot – truly. We finally made it back to the campground and I checked the temperature. 64. 64 degrees is how hot it was. I still call boloney. It felt so much hotter than 64. The trails do not have any shade so there’s that and the sun was intense. I’m not sure if that’s normal for Phoenix heat but I don’t feel that way in Tucson usually. Fortunately, I lived through the ordeal.
It did get hot in the middle of the day so we hopped in the car to explore the park and the visitor center. Turns out, the visitor center has a small exhibit of animals you may encounter in the park. Think rattlesnakes, scorpions, spiders, and gila monsters. Every couple of weeks they feed the animals and we just happened to be there on feeding day. I’m still a little creeped out by the experience but it was a good learning experience. The herpetologist taught us about the animals as she was feeding them and then we watched as they did their thing.
Saturday evening we went on a sunset bike ride – my favorite type of ride!
One of our favorite camping activities is playing cards at the end of the day. Our new camper has a longer table and we are enjoying the extra space. More room for snacks!
Sunday morning The Husband wanted to go on a longer ride so he went his way and Little Miss and I went on our own ride. We found a connector trail right off the campground that connected with a sweet, easy downhill trail and we spent probably two hours just riding laps. It was so much fun!
We finished up our ride by hiding in the shade of our camper because that’s what you do in the desert.
The campground has a really cool playground and we spent some time playing on the toys. I mean, how can you not slide through the middle of a rattlesnake? Or sit on a saguaro cactus? These might win the award for coolest toys ever.
Overall, the campground was well maintained and the bathrooms were always clean. The sites were spacious and not on top of each other. If I were to stay here again I would probably try to get one of the sites on the northern end of Rock Nob Road but only because they’re right next to the connector trail we enjoyed riding. The campground is not that big so it really doesn’t matter where you stay though.