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Phoenix - Fotolia_3386600_XS

Phoenix: Unlimited sunshine, warmer temperatures make city a mecca for snowbirds

There are thousands of reasons for RVing in Phoenix.  It is not just the warm weather, clear skies, golfing, hiking, Major League Baseball spring training, dazzling Arabian horse shows, classic car shows and auto auctions plus college, amateur and professional sports events.  There is all of that and much, much more to see, do and experience.

RVers will identify hundreds of places to see, thousands of things to do and many great experiences during a trip to this sunny city of the Southwest USA.  Greater Phoenix is a cluster of more than 20 cities and towns with a total population of more than 3.2 million.

Several distinct Indian communities, regional and mountain parks, agricultural lands, colleges and military bases occupy thousands of acres.  Fortunately for RVers, the access and egress are relatively easy, especially on weekends and during non-rush hour periods.

I-17 bisects the region from north to south while I-10 enters from the west and diverges southeast toward Tucson.  Route 60 runs from the east and extends northwest to Wickenburg and beyond.  The 101 diverts traffic in an inverted U around the northern border while the 202 forms a similar boundary on the southeast through and around Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa.  When completed highway 303 will form a bypass around the western boundary from I-17 to I-10 West.  I have driven 26-foot, 30-foot and 37-foot motorhomes plus a Toad (towed vehicle) on all of these highways with no traffic problems.

A few RV resorts and parks are located within the Phoenix region, but they are more abundant in the outlying communities.  Check the membership resort lists for various parks.  Passport America lists more than 20 parks in Mesa and Apache Junction and six more in the northwest valley.

Free to low cost boondocking is available within 25 miles of the city.  Casinos along the I-10, 101 and 202 usually allow RV parking for one or two nights with approval of security staff.  The last time that I stayed at Wild Horse Pass Casino, there were no time limit restrictions, but their RV parking is not comparable to what was allowed before the casino moved to the new location at Exit 162 on I-10.  www.wingilariver.com/wild-horse-pass

There are more than enough activities year around in Phoenix to keep the attention of the average RVers.  Most of these activities are held in the cooler months but there are many events scheduled during the summer months, also.  The diverse, unique, high quality festivals, special events, professional and college sports, historical, dining and other events are too numerous to list in this article.  Virtually every facet of life is recognized and celebrated in a very special way in this fine southwestern city.

Phoenix - Aunt Chiladas
The fajitas at Aunt Chilada’s are a mouth-watering array of flavor served in a delightful indoor or outdoor setting.


Hundreds of fine dining opportunities can be identified in Phoenix.  My friend, Donna, has lived in Scottsdale for more than 40 years.  She keeps an inventory of 20 or more small, family-owned cafes that meet her exacting standards.  There are, of course, the usual chain restaurants that appeal to many RVers and the high-end dining facilities that are enjoyed by a select few.

For excellent Mexican food in a charming outdoor setting, visit Aunt Chilada’s at 7330 N. Dreamy Draw Drive in Phoenix. The spinach and sour cream enchiladas are a big hit, as are the fajitas and combination plates. The chips and sweet-tasting salsa the waiters bring out as appetizers are very unique in that the traditional tortilla chips are mixed with their own house brand of chips that can’t be found anywhere else.  www.auntchiladas.com.

Hiking is a respected activity in Phoenix, whether on Camelback Mountain, White Tanks Mountain Park , or numerous city parks and similar areas.  Several additional hikes are listed on the Phoenix hiking trails website.  Dozens of area hikes, hundreds of photos and some interesting hiking challenges are given on the hiking websites.  Other hikes and day trips are highly recommended.  www.phoenix.gov/parks/trails

There are miles of hiking trails within the Phoenix metropolitan area ranging from simple scenic hikes, like the Waterfall Trail at White Sands, to the rugged adventurous trails at Phoenix Mountain Park.

Snowbirds and RVers may travel northwest to Payson and to the Pine Tops/Showlow area for cooler weather in the summer and skiing in the winter.  To the east are the mining districts around Globe.  Further south are the old west towns of Tombstone, Bisbee and several ghost towns that flourished during the mining days.

The winter habitats of thousands of Sandhill Cranes and many other migrating birds are found near Wilcox, east of Tucson on I-10.  The Wings over Wilcox festival is held annually to honor these feathered friends.  One year, I had the privilege of viewing an estimated 15,000 Sandhill Cranes while they circled over the lake at Whitewater Draw, several miles south of Wilcox.  It was an amazing and inspiring sight. www.wingsoverwillcox.com

Museums and sights of interest listed on the Phoenix museum website number more than 100. Click here to see the list

Many of the sights require day or overnight trips to see, and even longer to really enjoy the experiences.  Some of the local favorites include the Heard, Frank Lloyd Wright and Soleri museums.   I recently spent several delightful and entertaining hours observing the instruments and adsorbing the music from dozens of countries, worldwide, at the Musical Instrument Museum in north Scottsdale.  http://mim.org/

Zoos, arboretums, botanical and wild animal parks are within easy driving distance. Theatre, arts, music venues and similar pursuits abound.  Phoenix is a city of culture and diverse opportunities. The World Wildlife Zoo and Aquarium is a great attraction for kids as it allows them to get up close and personal with the animals. www.wildlifeworld.com.

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Late winter and spring are especially active seasons for professional sports including the NASCAR, Phoenix Open Golf Tournament, Cactus League MLB Spring Training, Phoenix Suns, Diamond Backs, Cardinals and Coyotes.   Many fans also attend the AZ and ASU football, basketball and baseball games.  www.cactusleague.com

Access to health care on the road isn’t an issue in the Phoenix area. The highly ranked hospital and medical facilities are abundant in the region, many with an emphasis on the elderly.  The Mayo Clinic of Phoenix is just one of several high quality facilities.  I have experienced, am happy for, but did not actually enjoy, excellent cardiac care in the Banner Boswell Hospital in Sun City.

Old Town Scottsdale features lots of fine shops and several festivals are held annually along the River Walk.  Shopping centers and malls are present at nearly every major intersection along the Interstates.  The Arizona Republic daily and the weekly newspapers are filled with bargains and sales.  This is a shoppers paradise.

Yes, there are thousands of reasons and four interesting seasons for traveling by RV to the great Phoenix region.  Visitors will find many friendly, exciting and exhilarating people, places and things to see and do no matter when they arrive and whether they stay a day, week or a month.  Come and join the thousands of RVers and other Snowbirds who annually make the trek to Phoenix.

The River Walk in downtown Scottsdale.
The River Walk in downtown Scottsdale.

About Dr. Bob Gorden

Dr. Bob Gorden is an RVer, hiker and writer. He has a PhD in microbial ecology from the University of Georgia in Athens. He is a retired research scientist from the University of Illinois Natural History Survey. He has owned and operated more than 55 RVs of various types, and has visited every state, except Hawaii, in his RV. He also traveled by RV in New Zealand, Canada and Mexico. He currently owns and travels in a 1978 GMC 26-foot Class A and 2013 Thor ACE 30.1 Class A motorhome. He has a compelling desire to be “On the Road Again!”

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