Have you heard this one? There are people that are afraid to take the I-8 between Phoenix and San Diego because of the Mexican drug cartel. The interstate runs too close to the border. The rumor is the cartel is on the mountaintops and has spotlights sending signals to each other regarding when to move the drugs across the border. You don’t want to be on the road when it happens because they’ll kill you. So the safe bet is to always take the I-10. At least until the wall is built!
We rolled the dice and took the I-8 on Christmas morning. At one point between Yuma and Dome Valley I thought I saw someone signaling with a mirror towards the border. It must’ve been my imagination getting the best of me. In less than seven hours we made it out to McDowell Mountain Regional Park (MMRP).
MMRP is one of the best campgrounds in which we’ve stayed. It’s a well maintained, beautiful park with wide open vistas of the desert and surrounding mountains. If you are in the south loop there’s so much space between sites it feels like you are boondocking. Hell, we’ve been in closer quarters boondocking in Borrego. It’s $30 a night and all sites come with water and power, no sewer. The bathrooms and showers are very clean. The shower is included in the price so no need to hoard quarters. And I’m talking about hot showers (what’s with this cold shower craze all the health and wellness nuts are swearing by?) The catch is the campground is always full, so you need to plan in advance. And they are only open for six months. It’s just too hot the other six months.
And now for the biking, because why else would we be there for five nights? There are miles and miles of beautiful singletrack in MMRP and it connects to Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which also has miles and miles of beautiful singletrack. It is fast, flowy, and fun, not the least bit challenging, but still very enjoyable. My favorite was the Long Loop at McDowell Competitive Track. Both areas were really easy to navigate because of the terrific signs at every intersection.
The weather in the greater Phoenix area, aka Valley of the Sun, is very pleasant this time of the year, just like San Diego, but a little drier. Call me soft if you want, but I think Valley of the Sun is uninhabitable in the summer. It’s just way too hot and I couldn’t imagine being a prisoner to air conditioning 24/7.
Every morning and evening the campsite was full of birds that we don’t see in San Diego. Coveys of Gambel’s Quail walking through our site. Gila Woodpeckers and Gilded Flickers perched on Saguaros and Cardinals flying around. We enjoyed our stay so much we tried to extend it, but all 76 sites were completely booked. When Amelia turns 70 she’s going to do a 6 month camp host gig out there, she said I can come too if I want.