I moved to a new campsite last Friday and rejoined Steve. I am about 5 miles outside of Wickenburg, AZ. We had a about 5 days of weather where it was in the mid-90s so I knew it was time to start working my way north and up into higher elevations. For every 1000 feet of elevation you gain, the temperature drops by about 3 degrees so the higher the better—up to a point. We didn’t want to go too high or we would be back into the cold. Arizona is a land of extremes; most of it is either high in the National Forest or low in the desert. Our long range goal is to be in Flagstaff, AZ by June for the Summer RTR. But because Flagstaff is at 7000 feet, it is still in winters grip. That means it is certain to get a lot more snow and cold between now and June. So for now we are headed toward an intermediate town, Prescott, AZ at 5400 feet. That is still too cold for now, but sometime in April or May we will move up to the National Forest around it. We have another place in mind at 4000 feet and when it gets too hot here sometime in April we will move to there. It’s about half way between here and Prescott.
For now we are in a beautiful camp very near Wickenburg. I estimate that we are at about 2400 feet which has put us into perfect weather. Every day has been in the low to mid 80s and the nights cool off and become very pleasant. It’s also one of the prettiest camps we have ever had. We are camped right on a ridge overlooking a broad dry-river wash that is surrounded by rugged mountains. The area is very thick with vegetation making it very green right now. It really is an amazing campsite. Gorgeous!
We are a very quick 5 miles from downtown Wickenburg, which is a true Old-West town. This area has had ranchers and miners in it for a very long time so it is authentic Old West. To this very day there are real, working cowboys riding their horses around the desert herding cattle. So town is full of dusty old pickups and men and women in cowboy hats and boots. But it is also full of tourists, RVers and motorcycles. It is just a wonderful, eclectic mix of cultures that is much more than the sum of its parts. The people are exceptionally friendly and the town is beautiful. If you are getting the idea that I have fallen in love with Wickenburg, it’s because I have! It will definitely become a part of my travel circuit from now on. I will be back.
The one bad thing about this campsite is the amount of traffic we get. There is a constant parade of ATVs, Jeeps and trucks on the river wash below us and a good amount on the road beside us. Fortunately the dust and noise isn’t that bad, but you are always aware that you are not alone. Homer and I take a walk down in the wash twice a day and without exception we have to watch out for numerous encounters with ATVS, Jeeps and pickups. Fortunately, it’s a big wash so it isn’t a problem.
Name of Campsite: Wickenburg, Az on Ricon Road
Elevation/Season 2400 feet; Spring or Fall Wickenburg is high enough to be a good stop-over as you are running from the heat in the spring or from the cold in the fall. It will be at least 8-10 degrees cooler than Quartzsite in spring and in the fall.
Date Visited: Late March-Early April 2013
Cost: Free BLM dispersed camping
Internet: *** (3/5) Good Verizon 3g with some drops
Shopping: *** (3/5) Good; has a Safeway, Bashas (local grocery chain) an Ace Hardware and most fast food. It’s only 50 miles from Phoenix for superior shopping. Gas was 20 cents higher than Phoenix. It has several Laundromats and places where you can get your mail and packages. Like most of Arizona there is an abundance of places with vending machines where you can buy water for 25 cents a gallon or 5 gallons for $1. Access to town is very good, it’s less than 5 miles to shopping.
Feel/Size of the town: **** (4/5) I love Wickenburg! It has a real “Old West” feel and look to it (including a rodeo going on my first day in town). There are still lots of ranches around it being worked by real cowboys-just like the Old West. Pickups, cowboy hats and cowboy boots are everywhere! Add in the RVers, motorcycles and tourists and it is a bustling, friendly, happy little town with everything you need to have a great stay.
Beauty: **** (5/5) Steve found us an astoundingly beautiful campsite! We are on a ridge overlooking a broad dry river wash surrounded my rugged mountains. There is an exceptional amount of cactus and other vegetation making it very green and beautiful right now.
Levelness and Rockiness of Campsite: ***** (5/5) Our camp is perfectly level and sandy with almost no rocks to trip on or hurt the bogs feet.
Pet Friendly: ** (2/5) All the cactus makes it much too easy for dogs to get stickers in their paws. The large amount of traffic greatly increases the possibility of problems for all pets.
Wildlife: *** (4/5) The normal desert creatures are all present: rabbits (in abundance!), ground squirrels and lizards, BUT, I also saw Javelina here. Which is very unusual. There is also an unusually large number of hawks and buzzards flying around which are always a pleasure to watch.
Solitude: (Traffic, ATVs, Other Campers): ** (2/5) The good thing is that there is no one else camping around us at all. The bad news is that the riverbed below us is beautiful but it is a magnet for Jeeps and ATVs and there is a constant flow of them around us with their loud noise and dust.
Hiking:*** (3/5) I took Homer up the road once, but he immediately got Cholla stuck in his paws and then tried to bite it off, getting them in his mouth. If you have ever been attacked by Cholla, you can imagine how horrible it was for both of us! We never went up the road again. So our every walk is down in the riverbed which is actually an outstanding walk. I would give it a 5 Star review, but the fact that there aren’t any other options brings it back down to 3 Stars.
Road Access: **** (3/5) Very good road to camp. A little bit is dirt but it is no problem.
Overall: **** (4/5) This campsite gets mixed reviews. The first thing you think is how amazingly beautiful it is with great views, average internet, and very close to a wonderful little town with great shopping. But then the ATVs start to drive by with their dust and noise and you are not so sure. Overall I am giving it 4 Stars because I think its pluses so far outweigh its negatives. I plan to spend time here every year!