Lake Pleasant Regional Park AZ

Ahhhhh, back in the land of the saguaro!

We had a little boo-boo happen just after arrival, though, when I went to put out the bedroom slides. I hit the button for the larger of the two and heard the sound of splintering wood. My heart slammed into my throat, and I realized my wooden tray table was getting jammed behind the nightstand portion of the slide. I hit the button again to stop the slide, then move it back in. I thought it was the table I’d heard being crunched, but it was the back edge of the particle board veneer on the side of my nightstand. There was a tear about 3-4″ but no major damage, and what damage there is can’t be seen unless you’re a contortionist with a flashlight. Although minor, it was a preventable mistake. I had forgotten to move the table, TBG had seen it but thought that since I hadn’t moved it, I’d wanted it there. We’re working on laminated checklists now.

#7 in the Roadrunner CG

There are several regional parks in Maricopa County (the county of Phoenix) and Lake Pleasant was the first in a series at which we’ll be staying. They all offer a ton of stuff to do without having to travel much if at all. We started our first morning with a two-mile walk around the closest trails, then later that afternoon a 12-mile bike ride all over the park in search of some wild burros.

“I saw you first.”

It was a holiday weekend, and with the regional parks being so close to Phoenix, the weather still hot, and Lake Pleasant being the only one of the parks with water activities, all the sites were full by nightfall. Everyone seemed to favor campfires and rope lights under their rigs. The campground looked and smelled like the circus had come to town. It was entertaining to watch a monstrous 5th wheel arrive at 9:30 p.m. and completely block the road, angering two other RVers who had to wait while Monster unloaded their OHV and maneuvered into their space directly across from us. We thought we were going to witness our first campground fist-fight that night, but fortunately it didn’t quite come to that.

Big Moon don’t care about piddlin’ people problems.

These parks also all have Visitor/Interpretive centers with live animal displays, which oddly, I had no idea about but was delightfully surprised to discover. I checked it out the next day and then walked back up later to attend a Bird Sounds presentation. Afterwards we motored up to the north end of the park in search of a good place to take a dip in the lake. We found one, but I only waded since the water didn’t appeal to me.

TBG felt differently.

In the morning, I drove out to the Wild Burro Trailhead to meet up for a ranger-led wild burro hike. I spent much of the four-mile trek chatting with the ranger about all manner of topics, which probably accounts for why I failed to take a single picture. At the turnaround point, I spotted the only burro we’d see that day high up on a ridge. You’ll have to take my word for it.

Ahhhhhrizona sunset, always classic.

The November evenings were wonderfully pleasant, and we spent a few sitting out for what we called the Sunset Pup Parade as fellow campers took their evening woof-walks.

TBG pinpoints where to connect with nature.

If we’d paid attention to the big, honking sign that said the trail didn’t connect to the nature on the other side of the inlet, we wouldn’t have had to turn around after a mile and then drive to a different access point.

Shortly before where a bridge wasn’t.

We ultimately finished the Pipeline Trail, which ended on the other side of the water in the above photo.

I wasn’t talking to you!”

We heard this round-bellied scrub-muncher before we saw it high up on the hill.

We still had energy when we came back to the intersection with the Yavapai Point Trail and decided to go on up.

On point.

The trail switchbacked up the hillside

to the park’s highest point 2,135′

The nice breeze, pretty view, and scarcity of other hikers made for an enjoyable 7 miles.

TBG has been cutting my hair for almost two years, but we drove into town so I could get a cut from a stylist to re-establish a baseline.

The new template.

It also got me all set for our hiking date the next day with our friends, The Lowes.

You may remember them from our chance meeting at Guadalupe N.P. or as our next-door neighbors at Hueco Tanks. We had known them in a virtual sense long before those meetings, but became fast friends in person, and have been eagerly anticipating our paths intersecting again. They were camped north of us near Wickenburg, and we drove up to meet them at the trailhead.

A make-shift sign using the register book for Vulture Peak Trail

I signed us in using Mona Liza’s signature blog tag line.

These people got the memo to wear blue.

We were headed up to the saddle pictured just above and to the right of Steve. It is not a long trail, but it is quite steep. The Lowes had done it before, and I asked ML if she thought I’d need my poles. She said, “Nah!”

I spotted this arch on the way up!

The trail was almost entirely in the shade, which made it just about perfect temperature-wise. The light and the steepness, however, were not a good combo for picture-taking. We were also talking and laughing a great deal, which is the best reason I can think of to not get a lot of photos taken.

We shared snacks (great jerky, Steve!) and enjoyed the hazy vista in the sun at the saddle, where we briefly contemplated and quickly discarded the idea of scrambling up to the true summit. We even got our own private flyover display by a couple of F-35s from nearby Luke AFB.

She’s laughing because I just pricked my heinie on that barrel cactus.

Friends don’t let friends hike without poles!

ML and I demonstrating the Shortie Struggle.

It really wasn’t as terrible coming down as it seemed like it would be going up, and I wasn’t ultimately sad to have left my poles behind since they wouldn’t have worked well on the hard rock surfaces. You’re off the hook this time, ML!

Once we’d returned to level terrain, we took a slightly different path back to the cars, making our total hike a four-miler with about 1100′ of gain. We also found a more official trail sign.

Where I took the most adorable sign picture EVER!

The day was young, and we had plans for lunch at a local Mexican place the Lowes enjoy.

El Ranchero

It was delicious, and we stuffed ourselves with authentic goodness. Afterwards, we headed back to Betsy for beverages, dessert, and more belly laughs. I don’t know how it could have been a better day — even though more great news was waiting for us at home (foreshadowing alert!!)  We have inked our calendars with plans for additional festivities in the very near future.

I guess our fire pit was just as annoying as those with stinky fires.

Back at our place, in between bigger hiking days, I enjoyed watching my birdies, and taking a near-daily walk up the hill to check in on the critters in the Discovery Center. The last day I walked up, I happened to arrive at the perfect time to see the feeding of the diamondback rattlesnack with a live mouse. I was the only one there, and the ranger came out to make sure I’d be OK seeing it. Heck, yeah, I said! Most captive snakes are fed dead/frozen food, so this opportunity to watch a live feeding was unique. It gave me an up-close-and-personal idea of just how frighteningly fast the strike happens, and then to witness the inevitable aftermath. I was so tickled to have serendipitously shown up at the right time! Much to the relief of many of you, I’m sure, I hadn’t brought my camera that day, so again, you’ll have to take my word for it. I really fell short on the critter photos this time, didn’t I? I’ll try to do better in the future.

Please accept this late-season cholla bloom as an apology. 

For our last hike, we stayed in the park and accessed the Beardsley Trail from our site.

Not just for those with beards! Or frogs!

It wasn’t a very interesting trail at all. It was mostly a flat walk in the desert.

Except for the place where we turned around.

Suddenly the trail entered a humid, tree-covered area that felt like we’d stepped into a greenhouse. It helped save the six-mile hike from being a complete snoozer.

Now for the BIG NEWS!

We applied and interviewed for, were offered, and have accepted volunteer positions with the NPS at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center near Ashland, WI next summer! It will be a very different experience to our summer in the Gila, but we are excited to be a part of all the NGLVC has to offer as well as spend time in a new geographical environment. It also sets us up perfectly to drop down into Ohio afterwards to spend some time with my family.

Until then, we have almost half a year yet to fill with adventures, and while it is exciting to plan and anticipate, one of my life rules is to never wish time away.

Even if it gets prickly.










17 thoughts on “Lake Pleasant Regional Park AZ

  1. Pingback: The Desert Rats are Back in Southwest Arizona | Lowes Travels

  2. Too bad you didn’t have any fun with ML and Steve 😂. Love the photos of the four of you!

    I’m happy you’re exploring all of the Phoenix regional parks and can report back on your experience. I know you guys will check out all of the hikes for us. Which is SO helpful for when we get there! (I hope we get to see burros.) We loved our stay at McDowell last winter, and I’m hoping that’s in your plan. The hiking isn’t too exciting, but we loved the biking! Not sure if the trails are scary enough for TBG, but it will give him some cacti to dodge. And I hope you’re also planning to stay at Lost Dutchman SP because the hiking there is fantastic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know, bummer right? I wish we could find better friends… 😀

      We are definitely hitting a lot of the RPs this fall/winter — Lake Pleasant, White Tank, Cave Creek, and McDowell! AND Lost Dutchman, too! Between that and our other friends hitting some of the other RPs, you’ll have no trouble planning which ones are the best when you’re back here.

      Thank you re: the upcoming summer gig. I hope it does fit into your plans ❤ Looks like it's going to be a very popular place for folks to catch up with us — YAY!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hooray for catching up with friends, hooray for burros, hooray for friendly rangers, hooray for avoiding fights in the CG (well, the misanthrope in me would love that), and hooray for securing new volunteer jobs that excite you. Final hooray — we will definitely see you next summer, since we are headed to the Great Lakes for summer 2020. You will be right on our route from Copper Harbor to Duluth, so plan on seeing us!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Can I use your template for my next cut?
    Hey look at that shortie, she seemed to adore the tallie! Love that snapshot too 🙂
    We had a fabulous time with both of you too! what a blast! And I am relieved that nothing happened to you on the trail or I will be blamed for the rest of my hiking life for telling you not to bring your hiking stick. Next time, never ever listen to me, okay 🙂
    I wondered what happened to the bridge? It was there when we were there some time ago. I can’t believe TBG took a dip there!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Of course you may use my new hair template 😀 That was such a great hike, lunch, and visit. I completely forgive your for the bad advice regarding the hiking poles. I’m trying to extend that same forgiveness to TBG for taking my picture instead of helping me like Steve did for you.

      The sign said that bridge at Lake Pleasant got washed out by the high water earlier & they’ll rebuild during dry times — or something like that. We could see old pilings in the water. I can’t believe TBG jumped in, either. He’s crazy!


  5. I feel bad for people arriving at campgrounds early in the evenings this time of year and facing dark conditions, but people showing up at 9:30? And then blocking the road? Hard to be real sympathetic there. I’m just glad you got some entertainment out of it.

    Always good to see Mona Liza and Steve! I’m sure you guys had a blast. This time of year is always fun when everyone ends up in the same couple places and can catch up after the summer craziness.

    Congrats again on your summer plans. I have no doubt you are gonna love that region.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I, too, have sympathy for late arrivals and know it’s just a matter of time before it happens to us. As you know, the entertainment continued into the next day when we watched Mr. Monster climb ONTO the top of his slideout to whack at tree branches. Good times, good times!

      We are truly into the visiting season now! It’s a fun and interesting time. We love to connect, and then we equally love the renewed appreciation we gain for to quiet time when it’s all over. It’s a good balance!

      Thank you for the well-wishes for the upcoming gig. And planning much of our route for us afterwards 😀


  6. As always..I love your blog. Lake Pleasant is one of my favorite areas. Spent last Thanksgiving back on Cow Creek…running the Bradshaw Mountains in my sideXside, communing with the burros and coyotes, and admitting only to myself that I probably have a little redneck blood. This Thanksgiving I’m spending in Quartzsite, the modern Silk Road caravansari where strange and interesting people ride in on their horse(power) to trade their wares and tell stories from the road.
    Hope to see you somewhere, sometime. Nan

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Nan! We did really like the area around Lake Pleasant, we were just sorry that so many other people did, too. That’s the problem with great places — everyone agrees. I think chances are good our paths will cross sooner rather than later. We’d love to hear your retelling of those stories from the road 🙂


  7. We used to stay at Lake Pleasant a lot but the weekend rednecks got to be too much for us 😁 We’re meeting up with the Lowe’s tomorrow. BTW, if you’re still hanging around Phx, Spur Cross is one of my favorite places to hike. Pinnacle Peak, Brown’s Ranch, Cave Creek Reg. Park are a few others all located on the northside of the valley. Congrats on the summer gig and I think you’ll like the farm where you’ll be parked (I sent TBG a photo of it when we were in Ashland). Let me know if I can offer any other suggestions for your Phx visit or want to meet for drinks. We now winter in an RV Park near Anthem and have been exploring the valley for the past 10 years.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, we weren’t super happy with the crowds there, either. Cave Creek is upcoming, and we’re looking forward to that one!
      It was really nice of you to get those photos of NGLVC for us — they definitely helped us with the decision process! We’re looking forward to seeing you soon and picking your brains about this area and Wisconsin 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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