Let me just say, Fall is an absolutely spectacular time to visit Arizona: the temperatures are ideal, crowds have thinned at popular swimming spots, and the occasional rain creates more green spaces and flowering plants – we saw grass growing in the desert! After our amazing week at Indian Bread Rocks we continued northward and spent a week in Scottsdale so that Brad could put in some face-time at the office. His employer is based there and with our visit being in late October it was a super convenient place to have our absentee ballots sent so that we could vote in the Midterm elections.
THE QUICK DETAILS
- A good RV camping option in town is Westworld of Scottsdale: water & electric sites for $31/night, central dump station, and co-mingled recycling dumpsters!
- A good FREE boondocking option is Apache Trail Boondock about 40 minutes east of town with great views of the Superstition Mountains
- There’s a $10 dump station at the Chevron 15 miles from the boondocking location (potable water is available but it’s from the dump station spigot)
- We loved paddling at Canyon Lake – about a 20 minute drive from Apache Trail Boondock (there are parking fees unless you have a National Parks pass)
- Nearby Lost Dutchman State Park offers beautiful hiking and there are also free trails right out of the Apache Trail camping area
Westworld of Scottsdale has the feel of a fairgrounds setting and it can be a pretty busy place – they do a lot of equestrian events there, among many others. Sometimes they offer RV camping right next to a huge green field, which is great for the dogs, but while we were there this time, they had us in an RV area which was just a gravel lot with water and electric pedestals. The camping area wasn’t very busy and we appreciated that they did a good job of spacing people out. I didn’t love that we were camped right beneath several power lines but thankfully they didn’t crackle like some do, and it was nice that Brad had just a twenty minute bike commute to the office.
Since we are normally together 24/7, it was a little quiet around the RV with him gone all day, but I didn’t have any trouble staying busy with editing, blogging, general internetting (is that a word?) and errands. On Wednesday I took the car to a local Safelite to get our windshield replaced because it had gotten a mysterious crack while we were boondocking at Indian Bread Rocks. I checked out the Goodwill nearby and came away with some fun finds: a few lightweight tops, shorts, and a funky wool backpack. I also did a big grocery run to Whole Foods, and took care of 4 loads of laundry at Vera’s laundromat: they have pretty good rates with the regular sized machines at $1.50 per wash and 25¢ per 10 minutes in the dryer.
We didn’t end up exploring much of Scottsdale but we did get together with a couple different friends during our stay which was really nice, and otherwise we just spent relaxing evenings at home. Every evening around sundown the coyotes would whip into a hooting and howling frenzy – some of the craziest cries and sounds we’ve heard! I loved it!
By the time the weekend hit, we were ready for some recreation. With temps in the mid-80s (and with Brad’s ankle sprain still healing) we decided hitting the water was our best option. I researched the best places to paddle near Scottsdale and found this super helpful website. Canyon Lake sounded fantastic AND it was just 20 minutes away from a great free little boondocking spot in the Tonto National Forest with awesome views of the Superstition Mountains.
We actually stayed at this free boondocking spot, Apache Trail Boondock, back in March so it was fun to experience the landscape at a different time of year. There were so many little wild flowers and grass and blooming cacti here in October, it was so pretty!
The boondocking spot is pretty popular, especially for those with horse trailers as there are riding trails right off the site. Unfortunately, the terrain of the camping area is super uneven, lots of little rolling hills, so we always end up using our leveling blocks when we’re there. It’s also a consistently busy place, but we’re always able to find somewhere to stay, even with our large class A. I will say that if you can arrive on a weekday, your chances of getting a level spot with a nice view are a lot better. The prized spots though are definitely the ones with unobstructed views of the Superstition Mountains, so when one opened up on our second day, we quickly packed up camp and scooted over there.
We had a supremely awesome day of paddling on Canyon Lake and we were super happy that our National Parks pass covered the day use fee (otherwise you would need a Tonto National Forest pass). There were a fair number of speed boats and jet skis, plus the wind, making lots of wake but it wasn’t a problem for us. We crossed the main lake and headed up the Salt River – and eagle-eye Brad even spotted a group of big horn sheep hanging out high up on the rocks. I could not get any kind of stable footage from my kayak so Brad scrambled up the rocks a bit with the camera and snagged some great shots.
We probably paddled about 5 miles roundtrip and had to call it a day because the sun was going down. We saw a giant guided tour boat heading up and down the river, so that would be a fun option if you wanted to explore Canyon Lake but don’t have a boat!
We only ended up staying at our boondocking site for three nights but we got out on some hiking trails and saw some gorgeous sunsets. Unfortunately the boondocking spot itself can be a little trashy – literally, people leave trash around – and it can get crowded, but the views are just spectacular so we still consider it a great free boondocking spot.
Check out our video of our stay in this beautiful area: