We interrupt this post with an emergency announcement I was just contacted by my good friend Brain who tells me the company I used to work for is hiring right now (May 30, 2013) to work in the Sierra National Forest.They are looking for Campground Hosts (couples mostly, but probably a few singles as well), an office/store person, a boat ramp person, a maintenance worker and a shuttle driver (driving the back-country campgrounds to deliver supplies, plus collecting money and checking restrooms). Starting pay is $8.50 an hour for every hour you work and you get a free campsite. I worked for them for 3 years and loved working there. Contact me at email@example.com. Now, on to our regularly scheduled post.
I want to give you as much value as I can in my blog and so I’m writing reviews of all my boondocking spots and as soon as I get enough I will compile them all onto a single page. This time we are looking at my Prescott, AZ camp. We have been here for nearly 7 weeks and we all agree it has been a great camp. Remember, most of this is my subjective opinion. I may think the scenery is just average here but you may think it is the prettiest place you have ever been. Neither one of us is right or wrong. I’ll begin with my general conclusions so you get a quick overview and then list details below it.
Conclusions: *** (3 Star) Like every camp it has pluses and minuses, but they all balance out to make it an above average campsite. Its best points are its near total solitude, beautiful wildflower bloom in early May, and very good weather in April and May. It has bordered on too hot, but never quite crossed over. The worst thing has been the insects. Starting mid-May something has bitten me up really bad and we have lots of honey bees. They don’t sting but if you leave water out it will be swarmed by a hug number of bees. Another negative is being 15 miles away from shopping. I like to be closer if at all possible,
The bottom line: I would be glad to make it a regular stopover in my annual circuit. April and May are hard months to find the right temperature (not to hot, not to cold) and Prescott does that.
Date Visited: Early April, 2013 to late May 2013.
Insects: * (1 Star) They weren’t an issue until Mid-May, but have been very bad since. In the future I will plan to leave as soon as they show up. I have been waiting for my new bike or I would have left 2 weeks ago.
Elevation/Season: Prescott is at around 5000 feet which makes it the perfect stop-over in late spring and early fall. Temperatures have been in in the high 60’s to the mid-80s during the day and 40-50’s at night. Not perfect, but very pleasant! We have been able to stay comfortable and it cools off very nicely at night. I have been surprised by how windy it is. It is nothing compared to the wind storms we get in the desert, but still more than I expected.
Scenery: **** (4 Stars) We are in the Prescott National Forest, so technically this is Forest, but it isn’t the big conifers (pines, firs, cedars) that you think of when you think of a western forest. It is mostly Junipers and Pinyon Pines which are a short, round tree, and in-between them is dried grass and dirt. It has its own beauty, but it doesn’t have a lot of appeal to me. However, when the wildflowers bloom that is a different story. I just loved the abundance of colors everywhere in early May. So I give it 3 Stars for scenery and 5 Stars for the wildflowers which works out to a 4 Stars average.
Internet: **** (4 stars) (As you read this, remember Steve, Gloria and I have a Wilson Sleek Cell Phone Amplifier and it dramatically improves our reception. If you don’t have one, your reception will be much worse; you would probably need to find a different camp.) The first camp we looked at had poor reception, so we looked around and found one a little further up the hill that had great reception. As incredible as it seems, we are getting a weak 4g signal. But a weak 4g signal is better than a strong 3g signal so we are delighted with it. It isn’t perfect, there are times during the day when it drops and becomes difficult to use. It just makes me very happy again that I chose Verizon for my carrier. They blanket the back-country many times better than anyone else does.
Wilson Electronics – Sleek 4G-V – Verizon 4G Cell Phone Signal Booster for Single User
Shopping: *** (3 Stars) Prescott has a fairly large population, around 40,000, but because the larger area is close to 100,000 it has outstanding shopping. Of course it has a Walmart, Safeway and Home Depot, but it even has a Sam’s Club and Costco, which is very unusual. But it is 35 miles away which is too far to drive to very often. Only 6 miles away is Paulden which is just a wide spot on the road. But it has trash, water, propane and a convenience store, so it is a plus. About 15 miles away is the town of Chino Valley which is a pretty good sized little town. The big thing is it has a Safeway grocery store. Their prices are higher than Walmarts but still not bad and they often run very good sales so I am always content to have a Safeway nearby. Since it is a full-size grocery store, it will have whatever I want. The town is large enough to have several dollar stores which also really helps with the budget. There is a good number of fast food chains including a McDonalds and Little Caesars Pizza place. That doesn’t help with the budget but I am still very glad they are here! There is a shipping store In Chino Valley so I can get mail and packages from USPS, UPS and Fed Ex for $2 each. All in all the shopping is very good. I wish it were closer but 15 miles away isn’t bad.
Feel/Size of the town: ***** (5 stars) Downtown Prescott is right in the National Forest and is beautiful! I think it is one of the prettiest towns of its size I have ever been in. It’s an old town and so it has a lot of old West feel to it. The original courthouse and buildings are still there in a wonderful little park. Chino Valley is a great little town that we all love going to. There are lots of working ranches in the area so this is cowboy country. Steve said he saw some cowboys ride their horse’s right up to the Safeway, tie them off outside and go in shopping. That is my kind of town!! Steve and I both have fallen deeply in love with Arizona. It is incredibly beautiful, has a huge variety of climates, and the people are friendlier and more open than almost anywhere I have been.
Wildlife: ** (2 Stars) I have not seen any big game but Steve did see one black bear. Like nearly all of Arizona, there is an abundance of rabbits. I have seen two garden snakes but no rattlesnakes. Over all I would say it is below average.
Solitude/ATVs: ***** (5 Stars) I believe we have had more solitude here than in any camp I have ever been in. We just never see or hear anyone else. We are on a little spur road off the main road and in the 7 weeks we have been here maybe 5 cars have driven down it. And even on the main road I rarely see anyone except on weekends, and then I may see 2-5 cars or ATVs all weekend. There may have been 4 other campers the whole time we were here. Oddly enough, there were none over the Memorial Day Weekend.
Ranger Enforcement: ***** (5 Stars) I hate feeling like I am being watched by Rangers, so this is important to me. I have not seen one Ranger the whole time we have been here! Steve saw one on the main road, but he just drove through and didn’t seem interested in anything around him. It doesn’t get better than that!
Walking-Hiking: *** (3 Stars) This is rattlesnake country and they are active now, so I only walk on the main roads. In open desert I will go cross-country, but this is so thick I could easily miss them so I don’t take the chance. That only leaves me two choices for walking once I walk out to the main road—right or left. It’s pretty enough but that isn’t much choice so I am just calling it average.