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Gorgeous Camp near Wickenburg, Arizona

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Ho-Hum, another Spectacular  sunset in Arizona.

Ho-Hum, another Spectacular sunset in Arizona.

I moved to a new campsite last Friday and rejoined Steve. I am about 5 miles outside of Wickenburg, AZ. We had a about 5 days of weather where it was in the mid-90s so I knew it was time to start working my way north and up into higher elevations. For every 1000 feet of elevation you gain, the temperature drops by about 3 degrees so the higher the better—up to a point. We didn’t want to go too high or we would be back into the cold. Arizona is a land of extremes; most of it is either high in the National Forest or low in the desert. Our long range goal is to be in Flagstaff, AZ by June for the Summer RTR. But because Flagstaff is at 7000 feet, it is still in winters grip. That means it is certain to get a lot more snow and cold between now and June. So for now we are headed toward an intermediate town, Prescott, AZ at 5400 feet. That is still too cold for now, but sometime in April or May we will move up to the National Forest around it. We have another place in mind at 4000 feet and when it gets too hot here sometime in April we will move to there. It’s about half way between here and Prescott.


The view from my campsite near Wickenburg, AZ.

For now we are in a beautiful camp very near Wickenburg. I estimate that we are at about 2400 feet which has put us into perfect weather. Every day has been in the low to mid 80s and the nights cool off and become very pleasant. It’s also one of the prettiest camps we have ever had. We are camped right on a ridge overlooking a broad dry-river wash that is surrounded by rugged mountains. The area is very thick with vegetation making it very green right now. It really is an amazing campsite. Gorgeous!
Steve's 4x4 van and my trailer. We are right on a ridge looking down at the wash below us.

Steve’s 4×4 van and my trailer. We are right on a ridge looking down at the wash below us.

We are a very quick 5 miles from downtown Wickenburg, which is a true Old-West town. This area has had ranchers and miners in it for a very long time so it is authentic Old West. To this very day there are real, working cowboys riding their horses around the desert herding cattle. So town is full of dusty old pickups and men and women in cowboy hats and boots. But it is also full of tourists, RVers and motorcycles. It is just a wonderful, eclectic mix of cultures that is much more than the sum of its parts. The people are exceptionally friendly and the town is beautiful. If you are getting the idea that I have fallen in love with Wickenburg, it’s because I have! It will definitely become a part of my travel circuit from now on. I will be back.

There are 6 Jeeps and ATVs in this photo, along with lots of dust and noise! There were close to 20 in that whole group.

The one bad thing about this campsite is the amount of traffic we get. There is a constant parade of ATVs, Jeeps and trucks on the river wash below us and a good amount on the road beside us. Fortunately the dust and noise isn’t that bad, but you are always aware that you are not alone. Homer and I take a walk down in the wash twice a day and without exception we have to watch out for numerous encounters with ATVS, Jeeps and pickups. Fortunately, it’s a big wash so it isn’t a problem.

Looking up at the trailer from the wash below.

Name of Campsite: Wickenburg, Az on Ricon Road
Elevation/Season 2400 feet; Spring or Fall Wickenburg is high enough to be a good stop-over as you are running from the heat in the spring or from the cold in the fall. It will be at least 8-10 degrees cooler than Quartzsite in spring and in the fall.
Date Visited: Late March-Early April 2013
Cost: Free BLM dispersed camping
Internet: *** (3/5) Good Verizon 3g with some drops
Shopping: *** (3/5) Good; has a Safeway, Bashas (local grocery chain) an Ace Hardware and most fast food. It’s only 50 miles from Phoenix for superior shopping. Gas was 20 cents higher than Phoenix. It has several Laundromats and places where you can get your mail and packages. Like most of Arizona there is an abundance of places with vending machines where you can buy water for 25 cents a gallon or 5 gallons for $1. Access to town is very good, it’s less than 5 miles to shopping.
Wickenburg Rodeo

Wickenburg Rodeo

Feel/Size of the town: **** (4/5) I love Wickenburg! It has a real “Old West” feel and look to it (including a rodeo going on my first day in town). There are still lots of ranches around it being worked by real cowboys-just like the Old West. Pickups, cowboy hats and cowboy boots are everywhere! Add in the RVers, motorcycles and tourists and it is a bustling, friendly, happy little town with everything you need to have a great stay.
Beauty: **** (5/5) Steve found us an astoundingly beautiful campsite! We are on a ridge overlooking a broad dry river wash surrounded my rugged mountains. There is an exceptional amount of cactus and other vegetation making it very green and beautiful right now.
Levelness and Rockiness of Campsite: ***** (5/5) Our camp is perfectly level and sandy with almost no rocks to trip on or hurt the bogs feet.
These little balls of stickers break off the Cholla Cactus and blow everywhere. Horrible, Horrible little things!! They will go right through your boots and will NOT come out!

These little balls of stickers break off the Cholla Cactus and blow everywhere. Horrible, Horrible little things!! They will go right through your boots and will NOT come out!

Pet Friendly: ** (2/5) All the cactus makes it much too easy for dogs to get stickers in their paws. The large amount of traffic greatly increases the possibility of problems for all pets.
Wildlife: *** (4/5) The normal desert creatures are all present: rabbits (in abundance!), ground squirrels and lizards, BUT, I also saw Javelina here. Which is very unusual. There is also an unusually large number of hawks and buzzards flying around which are always a pleasure to watch.
Solitude: (Traffic, ATVs, Other Campers): ** (2/5) The good thing is that there is no one else camping around us at all. The bad news is that the riverbed below us is beautiful but it is a magnet for Jeeps and ATVs and there is a constant flow of them around us with their loud noise and dust.
Hiking:*** (3/5) I took Homer up the road once, but he immediately got Cholla stuck in his paws and then tried to bite it off, getting them in his mouth. If you have ever been attacked by Cholla, you can imagine how horrible it was for both of us! We never went up the road again. So our every walk is down in the riverbed which is actually an outstanding walk. I would give it a 5 Star review, but the fact that there aren’t any other options brings it back down to 3 Stars.
Wildflowers about 30 feet from my trailer.

Wildflowers about 30 feet from my trailer.

Road Access: **** (3/5) Very good road to camp. A little bit is dirt but it is no problem.
Overall: **** (4/5) This campsite gets mixed reviews. The first thing you think is how amazingly beautiful it is with great views, average internet, and very close to a wonderful little town with great shopping. But then the ATVs start to drive by with their dust and noise and you are not so sure. Overall I am giving it 4 Stars because I think its pluses so far outweigh its negatives. I plan to spend time here every year!
The first cactus in bloom I've seen this year.

The first cactus in bloom I’ve seen this year.



  1. HoboBerg

    Hey Bob! Glad to see your enjoying yourself. I got a great view of the Mogollon Rim here in Payson. Get a plastic hair comb to take out those nasty cholla Homer will Thank You! Enjoy

    • Bob

      HoboBerg, my tentative plans are to work my way over to the Rim later in the summer so maybe our paths will cross then. The comb is a very good idea, I also carry a tiny multi-tool to pull out the stickers if the comb doesn’t get them. Homer got into his first Cholla 5 years aga when we first came out to the desert and he had never gotten them again. I don’t know what happened this time. he never tried to bite them before and my experience has been that dogs learn after that first time it never happens again. i sure hope not!! He got into a porcupine once and this was much worse!!
      Looking forward to seeing you again one of these days!

      • Douglas V

        A friends dog got into some cholla a few months ago and tried to bite it off. It took a few minutes for use to get all the stickers out.

        • Bob

          Douglas, been there, done that and I offer my sympathies to your friend! It’s a nightmare getting the quills out of their tongue and gums! It’s always hard but even worse when they are wet and the dog is squirming in pain.
          Fortunately, most dogs won’t do it twice.

          • Douglas

            It happened south of the phoenix area. Lot’s of prickly nasty things in the desert. Always have to be careful when out there.

          • Bob

            You are so right Douglas. Everything in the desert wants to poke, prick or attack you! To me it’s beautiful, but it can also be hostile!

  2. gary

    definitely check it out as I’m into gold prospecting. Probably next march.

    • Bob

      Hi Gary, the famous Stanton gold mine is just 20 or so miles north of here and I know there is a lot of recreational gold mining that goes on here. In fact many of the ATVs that run by me every day have dry washers, shovels and buckets strapped to them. Gold prospecting is the perfect hobby for boondockers, I’m sure you will really love it!!


    hey now bob, i think this kind of post is more meaningful an educational to the tribe,than the pervious post.keep up the good work, an keep those pixs a coming!!!. fellow taveler gary

    • Bob

      Gary, I’m glad you approve!

  4. Steve & Zeke the Mountain Dog

    Some points Bob has not pointed out are the lack of trash and garbage which so often comes with this style of life… that means the locals take care of their public lands and expect visitors to also take care of the lands also… Always keep a neat and clean camp site for obvious reasons, but also for when a ranger comes about, the first thing they look for is how clean the camp is… it is plain common sense, leave the area better than when you occupied it…

    • Bob

      Very good Steve, thanks for reminding us! That’s a lesson we can’t be reminded of enough.

  5. Chuck

    Thanks Bob. Very nice post.try making Homer some leather boots for desert walks.

    • Bob

      Chuck, I have booties for Homer, but he REALLY hates wearing them. He does adapt after awhile, but it is so seldom a problem I almost never put them on him. Dogs sweat trough their paws so the booties get wet, sweaty and stinky. I have used them and keep them in case I need to again, but not as an everyday thing.
      But I am glad you brought that up, some dogs are okay with booties so people should be reminded they are an option.

  6. rick

    why not move further away from the road and wash? Is the 3G reception part of the reason? except for the dust and atv noise it sound wonderful

    • Bob

      Rick, we aren’t really on the the road or wash. But sound carries so far in the desert you really have to go a long way to not hear it. Off road travel in this part of the desert is not a good idea. The vegetation is very thick and makes it impossible and the sand makes getting stuck very likely. Steve would be fine with his lifted, 4×4 van, but I would be stuck in a heartbeat. Plus, the Rangers want you to stay on the road in previously used campsites. And that is a very good idea even if they didn’t enforce it.
      I probably have exaggerated, in our actual campsite it really isn’t that bad. The wash is bad, but I am only in it during our walks. It’s just that I have been so many places where we saw maybe 2-3 other vehicles a week that I have become jaded and I am always wanting perfection.

  7. Martin Hamilton

    I love the tranquility you must be experiencing in that area. Those nice breezes are very relaxing to me. It’s funny how if you leave politics and religion out of your posts how much shorter the comments are!!

    • Bob

      I’ve noticed that too Martin!! That last post brought by far the greatest number and the most emotionally charged comments I have ever had. I certainly don’t want controversy for controversies sake, but it does increase interest!
      As a great, world famous philosopher (and hero of mine) once said “I yam who I yam and that’s all I yam!”* One of the conclusions I have reached in my older years is that ultimately people value openness and transparency more than almost anything else. So I strive for that here in the blog.
      I think it is important that people know not only WHAT I am doing, but WHY I am doing it. And that post laid out my deepest motivations. I try to be respectful and not shove my opinions down other peoples throat, but neither am I going to shy away from revealing myself just to avoid controversy.
      Readers can think I am wrong; you can politely disagree strongly; you can politely tell me how and why I am wrong; just allow me the courtesy of having and expressing an opinion.
      I always try to mix up the posts, so we are probably done with such hot topics for now. Tranquility has returned to the blog!
      Thanks Martin!
      P.S. The world famous philosopher quoted above was none other than Popeye!

      • Kathy

        I dunno, Bob. Sounds an awful lot like that Latin motto “Cognito ergo spud” – I think therefore I yam…

        • Bob

          Kathy, good one! I didn’t know Popeye was Latin! I learn something new everyday.

  8. kitty

    Dear Friends,
    No matter how beautiful, it looks to dry to me. I will stick with the northeast, especially the beautiful Hudson Valley. If you want solitude , wild forests are only an hours drive away from the Hudson River. There are several National forests in the northeast in the states of Pensyilvania, New Hampshire and Maine. Great places to stay cool in the summer.

    • Bob

      Kitty, I’ve traveled some through that area and I have to agree with you, it’s beautiful country, especially in the fall when the leaves turn. The White Mountains in New Hampshire are especially spectacular as is Adirondack State park in New York and Acadia NP in Main.
      But the West owns my heart. The variety is spectacular! Getting tired of this incredible scenery? All you need to do is go a days drive to see something totally different and even more marvelous. I can be at 14,000 feet in the Sierras or Rockies in a days drive from here. Nothing dry about them!
      As a bonus, it may be dry, but I have sunshine and temperatures every day in the 80s!! And that aint half bad!

  9. stan watkins

    I love the new review format with map. Thanks

  10. stan watkins

    Rincon rd. Means corner en espagnol

    • Bob

      Stan, that’s good to know.

  11. Donna

    How do you possibly ever get rid of 65 years worth of stuff?
    I think I could get rid of most everything but what about the very sentimental things that don’t mean anything at all to anybody else but just can’t get rid of them? How do you deal with that?

    • Anna

      That’s a tough one. If you were writing your Last Will and Testament, how would you dispose of those items in your will? Do that, now, instead of willing them to somebody. Give it to them now. Maybe choose to keep one or two small items that you can stash in your tiny space. It’s difficult. But in the end, it’s just stuff. Best wishes.

    • Steve & Zeke the Mountain Dog

      Donna you keep your favorites, pass some to your kids to pass down, and possibly store the rest or pass on to siblings to keepsake…

    • Bob

      Donna, you have gotten some very good advice from Anna and Steve. Do you have family who can take those things? If not, can you afford to put them storage? If not, how badly do you want to be free? Freedom isn’t free, there is always a price. This might be your price. Is it worth it to you?
      Long ago I decided it was worth whatever price I had to pay. But by then I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that this was the only way for me to live, nothing else would do. So I paid any price to make it happen. You probably don’t know that for sure yet. So I suggest you find a way to keep the very few most precious items if at all possible. Then if you decide you love it and are ready to pay any price, you can make a decision then.
      I wish you the very best as you follow your dreams.

    • DougB

      I started with a dumpster the size of a school bus, and filled it. Offered the kids whatever they were willing to take and own (not store for me). I figured that if they didn’t want it now, odds were that storing and willing it to them would wind up being for me, rather than for them. Freecycled some. Donated a lot to local charities.
      I’m currently storing a pile of things in a 5’x10′. Some needs to be eBayed. Some is excess clothing, and I wanted to hold onto it at least year to figure out what range of weather & ground conditions I’d be dealing with. Some are projects, like transferring some eclectic LP records to CD/MP3. Scanning family slides and prints to digital. Two pieces of furniture. A large mass of framed original automotive artwork and photographs. It’s very nice and was a lot of work to create, but the charities and dumpsters will get a workout this summer. Some more books/references that will probably go away. I can’t even REMEMBER all that’s in that unit!
      As a packrat, it’s been tough. But freeing, too. I’ve found that what helps is to live the life you want for awhile, which helps you be willing to then go back and chuck the tougher stuff that you never thought you could before. Your perception of it changes. I kept my dad’s watch, his leather business notepad/cardholder, and his passport. Time and heat will probably prevent me from successfully clearing out the storage unit this year, but nearly all of what alarmed me to lose last year is a no-brainer this year. I’m finding that I already tend to have what I need, and nearly all of that is in my head and my heart. Some items hurt to give away or throw away, but then later, on the road, you can’t even remember what those seemingly precious things were. To be kept, it needs to either be of practical use, or be able to be right out in front of me where I can smile at it. If I bin it away in my travel trailer, I never unpack it and thus don’t need it. Good luck!

      • Bob

        Doug, that was a very, very wise comment! I want to emphasis a few things just by repeating them:

          Offered the kids whatever they were willing to take and own (not store for me). I figured that if they didn’t want it now, odds were that storing and willing it to them would wind up being for me, rather than for them.
          I’ve found that what helps is to live the life you want for awhile, which helps you be willing to then go back and chuck the tougher stuff that you never thought you could before. Your perception of it changes.
          I’m finding that I already tend to have what I need, and nearly all of that is in my head and my heart. Some items hurt to give away or throw away, but then later, on the road, you can’t even remember what those seemingly precious things were.
          To be kept, it needs to either be of practical use, or be able to be right out in front of me where I can smile at it.


  12. David Thoreau

    Hey Bob, Another great blog post. I agree with Gary that these “Location Reviews” are valuable information for people who are new to the area or new to vandwelling. Also, good caveat about the Cholla cactus pickers. As well as your explanation of changing your elevation to comfortably live without air conditioning. Keep up the good work.

    • Bob

      Thanks David! I really do try to give readers enough details to be able to live this life really well. I realized many people are unaware of how easy it is to find great campsites on public land that are totally free, so I am going to place an emphasis on that.
      It’s the little details of this life that are interesting, so I am also going to try to focus more on them.
      I am glad you noticed!

  13. terry

    Glad to see that you have found a perfect little spot to camp Bob.Is there any time limit that you can stay there.Here in South Australia,there are many camping area,s that one can camp,some are by the sea-side.These are all run by the local town councils,some are free some occur a charge of $25 per week.There is a maximun stay of 6 weeks for any one camp site.There must be a break of 4 weeks after staying the full term (6 weeks)before you can return.All camp-sites require a permit.What is the situation in the USA.Just being curious.Happy Camping

    • Bob

      Terry, in the U.S. we have public land that is open to dispersed camping. That means you can just go and camp anywhere you want for free and generally you don’t need a permit. Almost always there is a 14 day time limit and after that you have to move somewhere else. In most places there is very limited enforcement of the rules, which means that if you loose track of time and stay too long, chances are it won’t be a problem.
      Maybe you can come and check it out for yourself one of these days!!

  14. fireman428

    Always great to read your post Bob, I’m spending a little time here in Mississippi hoping to get back to Kentucky and get a van together to go back out west maybe even hook up with some of the tribe out that way. So be safe keep posting pictures

    • Bob

      We’ll be waiting her to see you!

  15. maggie cooke

    if an item is special to you usally its because of a memory it hold you can take a picture of it and put in a photo album so you can look at them and remember all over again

    • Bob

      You are so right Maggie!! When I go through the folders holding those pictures I am taken back to that exact moment in time and sometimes my memories are so vivid it was like I was there all over again. They are my greatest treasures!

  16. Douglas

    Next time you are wickenburg, drop me a line.

    • Bob

      Will do Douglas!

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