Hit the roads of Phoenix in an RV
Right in the middle of a desert is the city of Phoenix. Surrounded by weird and wonderful landscapes, animals and plant life, it’s a place like no other. Ideal for a camper road trip, as long as you travel with plenty of water during the blistering heat of summer. There is an abundance of recreational activities to enjoy, and if you want to venture a little further, the state of Arizona is home to the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest.
From Phoenix, you can easily get to Albuquerque or the Southern California cities of Los Angeles and San Diego in your motorhome rental.
What does Phoenix have to offer?
Phoenix sits on the bank of the Salt River and is completely encircled by mountains, with the White Tank Mountains to the west, McDowell Mountains to the north-east, Superstition Mountains east, and Sierra Estrella to the south-west.
You need a vehicle to get around Phoenix, so travelling in an RV helps you avoid the hassle of bad public transport. The roads are based on a grid system, with numbers beginning in the centre and working their way out. Over the years, Phoenix has grown and swallowed smaller neighbouring cities in its path, merging with Scottsdale, Tempe, Glendale, Peoria, Mesa, Chandler, and Gilbert – this formed the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan area. Apache Junction, Fountain Hills, Queen Creek, and Sun City are next on the list.
Look to the Edge for accommodation
If you’re under 55 or have pets or kids, finding a camping ground in Phoenix can be a chore. Desert’s Edge is a great option, with clean and well-kept facilities. Known also as the Purple Park, it accommodates short- or long-term stays and is only minutes from downtown. Ask for a site away from the highway. The North Phoenix RV Park and Campground is modern and well-liked by both vacationers and extended-stay RV travellers alike.
Phoenix is near several State Parks and nature preserves where public camping is permitted. Dead Horse Ranch State Park, less than two hours north of Phoenix, has 127 campsites for RVs and tents. It’s a great spot to go hiking or mountain biking and enjoys mild temperatures. Tonto National Forest has over 30 sites, most with no electricity or water hook-ups, however there are coin-operated showers and toilets in some areas.
So many sights to enjoy…
The Grand Canyon is one of the world’s natural wonders, carved over many years alongside the Colorado River. Stay over at one of the National Park’s camping grounds and wake up to the incredible sight of sunrise over the gorge. At an immense 277 miles long and, at certain points, 18 miles wide with a depth of a mile, you certainly don’t want to miss it.
Botanical gardens can sometimes be a tad staid. However, Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden will wow you with an extensive range of cacti and desert plants. This almost alien garden is 50 acres and home to 139 rare and endangered plant species. Isolate yourself right in the middle of the city by climbing McDowell Mountains. The Sunrise Trail is 4.4 miles long, rises to 1300ft and is very popular. Make sure you pack or purchase a great pair of hiking shoes. Phoenix Zoo is the largest privately owned, non-profit zoo in the country.
On Tuesdays and Sundays, it costs only $10 if you have a valid Arizona state-issued EBT. Walk the 2.5 miles and marvel at the 1400 animals on display.
A true variety of culinary options
From fancy schmancy to cheap and cheerful, Phoenix has tasty treats to delight everyone. Centurion is a bit extravagant, with seasonal fare including blackberry mascarpone turnover. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is a sweet spot to take a date. Eddie’s House, Tuck Shop and Frank & Albert all offer food that reminds you of home. For Pizza, hit Cibo’s, and for burgers, you can’t beat Kelly’s at Southbridge.
Over Easy and The Farmhouse Restaurant have delicious breakfast menus that will set you right for a day of open road roaming. But no matter how long you stay, you won’t make a dint in the plethora of food joints, so make sure you don’t go back to the same place twice. To wash it all down, head to Barney’s Boathouse. It’s nautical, fun and, best of all, it’s on the roof. Relax and gaze up into the starry night.
People and atmosphere
Phoenix is known as a retirement spot, which can explain the 55+ limit on many of the RV parks. However, only 11% of the population are retirement age. There are 1.7 million people living in Phoenix. Phoenicians are one of two kinds of locals – natives or non-natives. Natives tend to be optimistic, relaxed and very open. The rest come in so many shapes and sizes and it’s very difficult to peg them down!
The burning heat of Phoenix
Phoenix is known for its hot and dry weather, a lack of shade and the endless desert. The skies are clear 59% of the time. The hottest time to travel in your RV is between February and September. Make sure you have water, sunscreen and an air-conditioning unit that works.