2015  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

Denali

 

   
 
Runtrails' Web Journal
 
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   SNOWBIRDS IN ARIZONA, STAGE 1:
CAMPING & HIKING AT BLACK CANYON

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24

"Here today, up and off to somewhere else tomorrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement!    
The whole world before you, and a horizon that's always changing!"
 
~ Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
 
 
We didn't originally intend to be "up and off to somewhere else tomorrow" but, by our third day at Black Canyon Ranch RV Resort, we decided this wasn't where we wanted to spend the winter.

Some folks would call that being fickle. We call it being flexible. Life is short and we don't want to spend a lot of time or money in an area we don't particularly like, for whatever reasons. And we had several good reasons to leave after one week.


Saguaro cacti in Black Canyon

Ironically, heat wasn't one of them. We delayed our arrival by over two weeks because temperatures were still in the 90s F. into mid-October.

By the time we got to Black Canyon City last Sunday, however, the temperatures were lower because of a massive storm system that dumped a lot more rain than usual in the Phoenix metro and north valley area, causing flooding.

High winds nearby also caused damage several days. We were fearful of potential tornadoes until Wednesday but had no wind-related problems or flooding at our RV park. Temperatures were mostly in the 70s and low 80s, which was OK.

BLACK CANYON RANCH RV RESORT

Black Canyon Ranch RV Resort has earned the highest rating of 10/10/10 by the Good Sam Club. That rating, and an attractive website, drew us to this RV park initially.

When we made our reservation we were promised a spacious, shady end site across from the office until the end of December, when a former guest who usually occupies that spot would be returning. Upon arrival we learned that no, we'd be in a more narrow site nearby in the same seasonal section instead.

 

That wasn't so much of a problem this week while no one was on our off-doorside or behind us but we were very close to the large 5th-wheel on our doorside.

We did have room, barely, to park both the truck and car at our site:

One good thing about this RV park is that we weren't charged an extra fee for the car. That's an issue we've sometimes encountered in private and public RV parks -- not military ones -- since we decided to keep our minivan after selling the house.

In addition to seasonal RV sites like the section we're in, this park has a lot of more stationary "park model" RV sites:

 

Some of the units are regular 5th-wheels or travel trailers with skirting and wooden decks. Others look more like mobile homes that haven't moved since being placed here. Some are occupied year-round, others just in the winter. A few were for sale (the land is leased).

There are also RV sites available for one or more days. As in most campgrounds, weekly and monthly rates are much more cost-effective than daily rates.

Sites are gravel with concrete pads for the picnic tables. Park roads are asphalt:

We have full hookups and 50-amp electrical service. Power has been a problem because it measures 148 volts instead of the usual 120 volts. Jim has had trouble using our surge protector on the box, even after the manager's husband checked it out. We soon learned from a couple other park residents that they've had continual electrical problems they claim "fried" their systems and had to be replaced.

We sure don't want to ruin our electrical system! That was one reason we decided to leave after just a week, even if we couldn't get our hefty deposit back. We did get a proper refund after we left.

We initially paid the $475 monthly rate plus $100 deposit for electricity. This is the first time we've stayed in an RV park that charges separately for electrical use. We decided to stay a week so we didn't have to pay the exorbitant daily rate for five or six days. The weekly rate was still fairly high at $225 ($32+ per night) but it included electricity. With a $25 administrative fee charged to cancel our reservation, we got a refund of $325.

There are some good things about the RV park, of course. The landscaping is about as attractive as you can make desert terrain look, with pretty flowers, cacti, trees, and old wagons and other western memorabilia. It was quiet while we were here but not many people are here for the winter yet.

The gravel sites and paved roads drained well this week despite several inches of rain. Most of the time it's very dry in this area, although it gets more annual precipitation at 2,000 feet elevation than the lower Phoenix valley.

The park has a pool, office, lounging area, laundry, and small fenced dog run (muddy this week, and too small for our dogs). Our cable TV and WiFi connections were good.

HIGH DESERT PARK TRAILS

After several days of rain we were finally able to get out on nearby trails to hike. The closest were about a mile away at the High Desert Park in Black Canyon City. Jim went with me one time there.

The park has three miles of hilly, connected, rock-lined hiking trails winding through the desert. We had to go early with the dogs because even when temperatures were in the 60s and 70s the sun felt quite hot.

 

 

 

 

Above and below:  teddy bear cholla

I liked this park but it was rather noisy because it parallels I-17.

BLACK CANYON TRAIL

One of the reasons we originally chose Black Canyon City for our winter retreat was its proximity to the 79-mile long Black Canyon Trail, which is open to hikers, cyclists, and equestrians. The closest trailhead is a couple miles south of our campground, with a one-mile spur trail to reach the canyon trail.

I waited until good weather on Friday to hike almost nine miles on this trail, going out and back to and from the same trailhead.


Saguaros along the spur trail

Six people started hiking the same time I did. They advised me the trail was better going south than north so I turned left, as advised, when I got to the main trail.  

Since I wanted to take photos and look at interesting rocks I stayed behind the group of six. They stopped at the Agua Fria River at about 1.5 miles and I kept going.


One of many rocky sections of the trail


Looking down at the river

 

I could see two women and their dogs playing in the water below. Most of the time the river wash is dry but after all the rain this week, the water was flowing here. 

I could see hoof prints in the sandy mud by the river. The prints and a cattle gate (below) on the trail before the river were clues that I might see some bovines along the trail somewhere. I did see several farther upstream and on the first high ridge.

 

 

I crossed the shallow water and continued following the trail up several switchbacks to the second ridge, with great views back down to the river, Black Canyon City, and mountain ranges in all directions:  

 

 

 

 

 

 


Cows on a ridge overlooking Black Canyon City

Lots more photos, so continued on the next page . . .

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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