McDowell Mountain: April 4-9, 2023


Site 74, E.I. Rowland Campground at McDowell Mountain Regional Park

Once Buckeye was in our rearview mirror everything became wonderful again. Driving into McDowell Mountain Regional Park the super bloom was impressive. This was our third visit. It’s a wonderful campground. It’s on our top ten list: spacious sites, plenty of room between neighbors, electric and water, which means no annoying generators, free showers, and mountain biking trails from the campground.

It’s just a good vibe. Out of the 76 sites, I bet 73 of them were mountain bikers. It’s always smart to chat up fellow mountain bikers, and of course, Amelia is great at it. We got a couple of tips from riders about the Fraesfield and Brown’s Ranch Trailheads located in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. It’s a mass of land adjacent to the regional park and offers trails that are more technical. We spent two days exploring that area.

The highlight, quite possibly the biggest highlight of our 10 years of Airstreaming, was seeing a Gila Monster! What an amazing, beautiful, and intricately patterned reptile. A sighting is pretty rare since they spend 90 percent of their lives below ground. The only time they come out is for food and love! It’s the only venomous lizard in the United States. It’s nothing like the little lizards you might have running around in your backyard. They can grow to more than 20 inches long and have a girth of two plus inches. Lucky Amelia rode right up to one and watched it waddle away like an alligator.


Gila Monster


Here’s the other pic of this orange and black beauty.

Again, lucky Amelia, or perhaps unlucky, had two close encounters with a Mojave Rattlesnake. The first time, she was out in front on a ride, came ripping around the corner to greet the rattler relaxing in the sun in the middle of the single track trail. She slammed on her brakes. It was a debate on who was more scared, her or the rattler. She got a pure shot of adrenaline. The snake instantly coiled up and started rattling. It took a few minutes for it to calm down and wiggle off the trail.

The other encounter occurred at our campsite. I was out doing laps around the campground checking out the other riders and their bikes. Amelia was sitting under the awning reading while this Mojave nonchalantly slithered through our campsite. It was three feet from her and almost turned onto our mat! She was quick enough to get a video if it. And on our last day of biking we had a Bobcat sighting. Typically all you get is a fleeting glimpse, this time we had a long look. What a beautiful creature.

Here’s the rattlesnake video


The hills were ablaze in Brittlebush.


Arizona Lupine was everywhere.


I didn’t know this, do not pick up a Desert Tortoise.


Full moon rise over Four Peaks


Desert Rock Pea


Desert Broomrape, this little guy is about three inches tall.


Purple Owl’s Clover


My favorite sign to see!


Singlespeed and Saguaro


My wife is a rockhound! Riding rock is definitely her happy place. While on the trail she seeks it out.


This cute little flower is called Stinknet. It’s an invasive species.


White Desert Globemallow


We only saw one little spot with white Arizona Lupine mixed in with the violet ones


White Tackstem


Per usual, we’re wrapping it up with a stunning sunset.

All in all, it was a terrific five days, and our last Spring Break. As of this posting Amelia has 37 school days until retirement!

7 thoughts on “McDowell Mountain: April 4-9, 2023

  1. I’ll have to put that area on my radar to visit someday. Hopefully I can join you on a trip or two when Amy is retired! Love the gila monster..

  2. Awesome pics of Gila Monster. I saw them in the Idaho desert when I hunted jack rabbits as a kid. Great views. You need to make it into New Mexico and Utahs Zion Park then, come on out toward Florida into the Everglades National Park areas. Very cool.

  3. Delayed response, finally checking on emails weeks later…retirement will do that for ya 🙂 Looks like another fun, amazing trip – gila monster, super cool..rattlesnakes, not so much! Look forward to hearing about your next adventure!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s