McDowell Mountains Regional Park, AZ

We haven’t traveled in the RV since we returned from the Eastern Sierras of California in September, 2023. During that drought, we’ve been downsizing my 82-year-old parents from a huge house located an hour away, to a reasonably-sized house in our very own neighborhood. So, after the move was successfully completed, it was time for our first outing of 2024!

We ventured to McDowell Mountains Regional Park, 40 minutes from our Phoenix-area home, near the charming community of Fountain Hills, AZ. Fountain Hills is famous for their enormous fountain that spews every hour, on the hour, for 15 minutes. It’s the world’s fourth-tallest fountain, and the second tallest in the U.S.

The McDowell Mountains are a wonderful urban escape with impressive sunrises and sunsets, and astounding views of the surrounding mountains, including the uncreatively-named Four Peaks bathed in pink sundown light. The quietness of the setting was disturbed only by the howling of hundreds of coyotes in the surrounding desert, a haunting soundtrack to Mother Nature’s majesty.

On our 2024 wish list was to take our 2-1/2 year old grandson, Connor, camping in the RV. A practice run of “camping” in our driveway led to the main event, as Connor and his dad Sean came for 24 hour of toddler-centric fun. We delighted in his new discovery of all the classic camping activities: “hiking” (we went at least 50 feet!), roasting weenies over an open flame, red solo cups, s’mores, and more.

Given the observed customer base of this campground, which consisted mostly of couples 65 and older, it was shocking to find the coolest Southwest-inspired playground ever, with a slide that went through a snake’s belly, a climbable cactus, spiderweb rope climb up a “boulder,” and more.

Even for an 56-year-old Arizona native like me, the beauty of the desert still takes my breath away.

McDowell Mountains Regional Park has miles and miles of multi-use trails, some of which led straight out from the campground. When hiking in the desert Southwest, be sure your pack contains a simple $0.59 comb. (Maybe $1.29, with supply chain issues and all that.) Not so you look good in selfies. When you (or your dog) inadvertently get a cactus thorn in your skin, use the comb to reach behind the quills and flick it cleanly out, without having to touch it with your hands and thereby transferring your problem from one location to another!

Though we haven’t been traveling in the last few months, I HAVE been writing, and RV Destinations Magazine just published my article about our stay at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge outside Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It was a super-unique RV destination, camping right on their property!

And, RV America Magazine, published by Passport America, just published a piece we wrote on winter camping! Both of these articles are available to read on the “Media” page of

We have two more Arizona-based trips this spring. In February, we will spend a week in far-southern Arizona at the Festival of the Arts in Tubac, Southern Arizona’s longest running art festival since 1959, with over 200 vendors and 75,000 attendees. In March, we will venture to a fantastic country music festival called Party in the Desert in Wickenburg. In the meantime, still dreaming and planning of all the great places we want to go! So many dreams, so little time!

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