Best Places To Visit In Southern Arizona For RVers: Patagonia, Arizona

Located in Southern Arizona between Sonoita and Rio Rico on Route 82, the small town of Patagonia is one of Arizona’s best-kept secrets.

Patagonia sits along the Sonoita Creek and is surrounded by the Santa Rita and Patagonia mountain ranges of the Coronado National Forest.

Patagonia
San Raphael Grassland and the Santa Rita Mountains (Photo by Magnus Manske)

Mountain peaks rise nearly 2,000 feet from the desert floor, creating Sky Islands, and provide incredibly diverse geographic environments to host amazing biodiversity.  In a short time, you can explore creeks, canyons, deserts, plateaus, mountains and one of the only remaining high desert short-grass prairies in America, the San Rafael Valley.

The town of Patagonia was originally founded in the early 1900s as a mining town.  Many of the old mining districts are now ghost towns like Mowry, Harshaw, and Duquesne.

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The Patagonia Railroad Depot station, built circa 1900 (Photo by Old Pueblo/Wikipedia)

If you have a vehicle that can drive on the narrow, dirt mining roads, it is worth a drive through these old mining camps.  Modern Patagonia is home to around 900 residents and is a thriving community of artists, botanists, weavers, authors, and cowboys.

  • The Patagonia Museum is located in the old grammar school building (1914) and offers opportunities to help preserve the history and culture of the area with community events and activities.
  • The Creative Spirit Artists Gallery is a collective of local artists and authors work.  You will find everything from spiritual to whimsical for every taste.

This diversity of the area also provides world-class birding.  With over 300 bird species (including several rare species) migrating through the area each year, the months of March through September are known as some of the prime birding opportunities.  Hummingbirds, warblers, vireos, orioles, tanagers, songbirds, raptors, finches, and longspurs are just a few of the birds that pass through the area.

For those looking to connect with the natural environment, the Patagonia area offers wide open spaces for hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and exploring.  Patagonia is a gateway community for hiking or biking along the Arizona National Scenic Trail, which spans over 800 miles from Mexico to Utah.

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The Arizona National Scenic Trail with Picketpost Mountain in the distance (Photo by Sonoradocent/Wikipedia)

The surrounding Coronado National Forest is a great place to camp, with both campgrounds and dispersed locations available.  There are also great biking and hiking trails, horse-friendly areas, and lake recreational areas, such as Parker Canyon Lake and Peña Blanca Lake.

Patagonia and the surrounding area offers a wonderful array of activities and interests.  A trip through the area is well worth your time if you are in the Tucson area.

See also: 8 Scenic Lakes For Camping In The Southwest



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Best RV Campgrounds And Golf Courses In Tucson, Arizona

With the Santa Catalina Mountains as a backdrop, Tucson, Arizona is a popular destination any time of year. Featuring dozens of RV parks and more than 40 golf courses in the region, it’s easy to find the right RV-golf combination that works best for you.

One of the best RV parks around is the Tucson Lazy Days KOA. Offering 141 sites, the resort has numerous amenities and activities throughout the year. Their amenities include full hookups, WiFi, restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, a camp store, swimming pools, hot tubs, and more.

Tucson
Tucson KOA. Photo via TripAdvisor

Golfers will definitely appreciate the nine-hole putting course. The final putting hole strategically finishes just outside the restaurant and swimming pool. The 10th hole can either be a dip in the pool or a cold libation!

If you’re looking to tee it up at an 18-hole course, consider one of the five Tucson City Golf tracks. The closest to Lazy Days KOA is the Randolph Dell Urich Golf Course less than five miles away. This par 70, 6,629-yard course initially opened in 1961 as the Randolph South Golf Course.

After an extensive renovation in 1996, it was rechristened the Randolph Dell Urich Golf Course. This municipal course offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

Randolph Dell Urich Golf Course, Photo via Golf Advisor

It also features a parkland-style layout with relatively flat, tree-lined fairways and large, undulating greens. Water hazards come into play on five of the holes. The Randolph Golf Complex Includes the Randolph Dell Urich Golf Course and the Randolph North Golf Course.

You could spend weeks exploring the many treasures of Tucson. One of the main attractions is the Mission San Xavier del Bac. Completed in 1797, Mission San Xavier del Bac is a National Historic Landmark and the oldest intact European structure in Arizona.

Mission San Xavier del Bac – Photo via TripAdvisor

The exterior is as exquisite as the interior, which is filled with marvelous original statuary and mural paintings. More than 200,000 visitors step through the mission’s entrance each year. From downtown Tucson, the mission is just nine miles via Interstate 19.

There are several more attractions throughout the Tucson area, like the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Saguaro National Park. For a comprehensive list of attractions in Tucson, check out visittucson.org. You can also learn more about the Tucson KOA on Campground Reviews.

See also: 8 Scenic Lakes For Camping In The Southwest



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Places To Visit, RV Camping And Golfing Near Ajo, Arizona

The small town of Ajo in Southern Arizona is surrounded by 12 million acres of public and tribal land waiting to be explored.

Featuring a warm, dry climate, Ajo is located in the heart of the unique Sonoran Desert. Given that setting, it’s no wonder that Shadow Ridge RV Park is a favorite of those visiting the area.

The pet-friendly Shadow Ridge offers 125 sites with full hook-ups and lots of amenities. These include free cable TV and Wi-Fi, restrooms and showers, laundry facilities, a camp store, and nearby nature trails.

Within a short distance of the RV park are Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.

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Ajo Country Club’s 9th hole

Also close to Shadow Ridge RV Park is the Ajo Country Club. Their golf course is built on naturally flat terrain and features elevated greens. Open year-round, the par 36, nine-hole course measures 3,093 yards.

It was built by locals and opened just after World War II in 1946. The signature hole is No. 9, a 123-yard, par 3, featuring water and tall palm trees protecting the front of the green. Golfers routinely share the course with roadrunners, coyotes, and deer. Another unique aspect of the golf course is the small airport runway adjacent to the course.

In addition to club and cart rentals, Ajo Country Club officials offer three days of free RV dry camping with use of the facilities. For details, call 520-387-5011.

Ajo residents are quite proud of their recent accolade, being named a Certified Wildlife Habitat, compliments of the National Wildlife Federation.

This town of 4,000 is the second Arizona Community (along with Mesa Community College’s Red Mountain Campus), and only the 65th in the nation to earn this distinct certification. The area is home to more than 1,000 species of plants and animals, many unique to the Southern Arizona region.

Organ Pipe Cactus. Photo by Burley Packwood on Wikipedia

The area’s unpolluted skies have attracted countless astronomy buffs and stargazers. Kitt Peak National Observatory allows visitors to peer through massive telescopes and also enjoy educational programs and Native American exhibits.

See also: 8 Southwest Towns You Need To Visit This Winter



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The Best Free Camping in Parker, Arizona

The week we scored an awesome site for free camping in Parker, Arizona! Free camping, also know as boondocking or dry camping, is a great way to economically explore the USA.

During the winter months Arizona is a hot spot for RVing. Parker (AZ) is located in between Quartzsite & Lake Havasu – making it an idea basecamp for your outdoor activities.

From our experience, it seems like Shea Road is a good choice for Class As, Bs, Cs, TTs & 5ers.

We found this free camping site in Parker, Arizona on Campendium (where it received 4 of 5 stars).

Location: Parker, Arizona

GPS: 34.1305, -114.1709

Date / Temp: We camped here for 4 nights in mid January. The weather was perfect. Daily highs were in the 70s and nights in the 40s. If you’re looking for great winter weather, Arizona is the place to be.

Amenities: This site offers no amenities and practices a “Pack In, Pack Out” policy.  We filled up with water in Quartzsite, Arizona. The town of Parker offers many options for buying filtered water, but it’s hard to find an RV water fill station.

There are easy dump options in Quartzsite as well.

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Free Camping in Parker, Arizona

Wifi / Cell: We received a 4G LTE signal with AT&T. The speeds allowed us to easily stream Netflix. We did use our WeBoost Cell Booster to increase upload speeds. Our T-Mobile Hot Spot received no connectivity.

Noise: The road is long and offers lots of space to spread out, or camp with a group. Noise was never an issue at our site. Even though we were close to the road, it was still quiet due to minimal auto traffic.

Grocery / Errands: Downtown Parker is 11 miles from our campsite, but only 1 mile from the entrance of Shea Road. The town offers a Walmart, Safeway and many dinning options.

Dog Friendly: This site is dog friendly. River had a lot of space to play and explore. 

Entertainment: Most of the entertainment is outdoor activities. Hiking & ATV enthusiasts will have plenty to explore. For a change of scenery,  take a day trip to Quartzsite or Lake Havasu.

Overall Experience of Free Camping in Parker, Arizona

We highly recommend this site if you’re in the area. For us, it is much more enjoyable than boondocking in Quartzsite.

If you’re interested in viewing all the free campsites we visit, click here!



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RV Resort Near Clarkdale, Arizona: Rain Spirit RV Resort

A new RV resort recently opened in the Verde Valley region of Central Arizona. Just south of Flagstaff and Sedona in small-town Clarkdale, Rain Spirit RV Resort has full hookup RV sites with panoramic views and some amazing places to visit nearby.

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Rain Spirit RV Resort. Photos via Facebook

The resort can accommodate RVs of all sizes with their wide paved roads and 63 large sites (both pull-thrus and back-ins). From your RV, you can get wide open views of the Tuzigoot Monument, Verde River, and Sycamore and Verde Canyons.

They’re a quick drive to Tuzigoot National Monument, Red Rock State Park, and the Verde Canyon Railroad Train. The resort’s also close to Old Town Cottonwood, Dead Horse State Park, and the Verde Valley Fairgrounds.

RV resort

When you’re not exploring the area, make full use of their brand new facilities. You can take a dip in their heated pool and Jacuzzi, or relax in the air-conditioned rec room with a pool table and a kitchen. They also offer a fitness room, dog run, laundry room, and WiFi throughout the park.

RV resort

Nearby there are enough attractions to keep you busy for weeks or even months. Take your time to explore Tuzigoot National Monument (about a mile from the resort) as it has Sinagua ruins dating back to 1100 AD. Grab one of their RV spaces 8-18 for the best views of this ancient Puebloan structure.

Verde River Canyon should also be on your list of places to visit. This vast area has ATV trails, kayaking, fishing, biking, bird watching, and the Verde Canyon Railroad tour train. Park your RV in one of their sites numbered 1-7 for a view of this massive colorful canyon.

RV resort

The hillside mining town of Jerome is also less than ten minutes from the resort. Explore their local museums, art shops, gift shops, and restaurants, or visit Jerome State Historic Park to see the old Douglas Mansion built in 1916.

While you’re in town you’ll also want to visit the Gold King Mine Ghost Town. This abandoned town still preserves an old mine, dilapidated buildings, and various old cars and trucks.

Have you visited Rain Spirit RV Resort yet? Let us know about your experience on RV Park Reviews!



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2019 Winter Events In Lake Havasu City, Arizona For RVers, Campers

Much like Quartzsite, Lake Havasu City in Western Arizona is a haven for snowbirds in the winter. This city along the Colorado River has year-round sunshine and endless ways to get outdoors. You can find lots of local shops to browse, restaurants to choose from, and RV resorts with 5-star amenities. The city also claims home to the iconic London Bridge, relocated from England, which now connects the mainland to an island on the river.

The area hosts over 300 events throughout the year, including a few RV rallies coming up soon in Lake Havasu State Park. Make sure you add these events to your calendar for January-February 2019!

Lake Havasu City
Buses by the Bridge. Photos via Facebook

1. Buses By The Bridge

  • Date: January 17, 2019
  • Cost: Admission: $2 per person (good all weekend). Camping: Thursday-Sunday: $40, Camping Friday-Sunday: $30, Camping Saturday & Sunday: $20
  • Location: Lake Havasu State Park

All kinds of Volkswagen buses will be rounding up at Buses By The Bridge. Over the last two decades, this event has become a popular VW rally with classic buses coming in from all over the country. Keep an eye out for panel vans, seven and nine-passenger microbuses, Kombis, and cab pickups.

Besides vintage eye candy, this weekend-long event will have activities for all ages. There will be a bouncy house for the kids while adults can partake in hot air balloon rides, raffles, a chili cook-off, and a cornhole tournament. On Sunday morning, the event will wrap up with a pancake breakfast.

There will be a parking area designated for RVs, campers, motorhomes, trailers, and non-VW vans. The 500+ spaces are first-come, first-served, and pre-registration is not required.  You can learn more about the 23rd annual event and see the full schedule from Go Lake Havasu.

2. Havasu Balloon Festival and Fair

  • Date: January 10, 2019 @ 12:00 pm – January 13, 2019 @ 3:00 pm
  • Cost: $15+ tickets, Camping costs TBD
  • Location: Lake Havasu State Park

Hot air balloons will again be soaring over Lake Havasu City at the 9th Annual Balloon Festival. You can watch mass ascensions of hot air balloons take off and float over the London Bridge and the Bridgewater Channel. There will also be a Balloon Night Glow, air shows, skydivers, special shape balloons, antique cars, and live entertainment.

Lake Havasu City
Havasu Balloon Festival. Photos via Facebook

Dry camping will be available at the festival just steps from the activities, carnival rides, and vendors. The RV parking includes pricing for 5 nights and 2 festival entrance wristbands.

Map via Go Lake Havasu

Tickets are $15 through their website and will also be sold at the gates. Alternatively, they have Gondola VIP tickets available with exclusive food, drinks, VIP parking, and prime views of the balloons.

Tents are not permitted and single nights are not available. Learn more about camping at the festival.

3. Lake Havasu Vintage Trailer Campout

  • Date: January 31, 2019 – February 2, 2019. Trailers are open to the general public on Friday and Saturday (February 1 & 2), 10am-3pm. 
  • Cost: Park entry is $3 per person; Camping costs TBD

If you love vintage trailers, you won’t want to miss the 5th Annual Vintage Trailer Campout hosted by Tin Can Tourists. This year’s event will be held by the white sandy beach in Lake Havasu State Park and have lots of cool antique trailers on display.

Vintage Trailer Campout. Photo: Tin Can Tourists

Vintage campers will be open to the public on Friday and Saturday (February 1 & 2) from 10am-3pm.  They will have dry RV campsites with no hookups, restrooms and showers, and limited power for medical devices.

Lake Havasu
Vintage Trailer Campout. Photo: Go Lake Havasu

Pets will be permitted at the event on a leash, but they are not allowed on the beach. You can learn more about the upcoming Vintage Trailer Campout from Go Lake Havasu.

See also: 8 Southwest Towns You Need To Visit This Winter



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