Tag Archives: Buckeye HIlls Recreation Area

It’s Been a Week


It’s been a week since I’ve posted here.

I’ve written a couple of posts by hand in my notebook, but I haven’t sat down at a computer with internet access since I sent out the dispatch from Quartzsite.

It’s been a whirlwind tour. A car was sold. My new friend and I left Quartzsite behind. Camping supplies were bought. We spent a couple of nights at free campgrounds, one I’d been to before (Buckeye Hills Regional Recreation Area) and one that was new to me (Indian Bread Rocks Recreation Area). We stopped to visit The Lady of the House; she prepared a wonderfully delicious lunch for us, and as an added bonus, we took showers! We drove late into the night, set up camp in the dark, and woke to fantastic nature. We climbed up on rocks and took photos of each other, then climbed back down again.

I’ve been laughing a lot.

I’d forgotten how great it can be to have a nice, helpful, kind, funny person in the passenger’s seat.

So now we’re in a small town in the Southwest. I have friends here, and my new friend is making some of his own. We’ve been anarchist camping at a small campground with no camphost. I don’t feel too bad about it, as the restrooms with the flush toilets are locked, there are no picnic tables anywhere in the place, and we’re not using any resources. We don’t even put our trash in the dumpster! It’s just a place to go to spend a few hours sleeping.

This is the wood spirit my friend carved. The carving sits on my dash and protects my van.

My friend has been carving wood spirits from cottonwood. It’s his new money-making venture. As soon as he makes one, it sells.

I’ve been scheduling readings of my book. I’ll do two next week. It’s exciting. After the woman at the bookstore said I could do a reading at her shop, I felt as if the Universe would give me anything I wanted.

Today I’m tired. I didn’t get nearly enough sleep last night, but I’ll be ok.

I’m currently working at the computer lab in the town’s senior center. It’s really hot in here, and I can barely keep my eyes open. I wanted to get a post out today so everyone knows I am alive and kicking and doing well. I’ll write longer posts soon, but I plan to post every other day starting in February. I have more books to write, and I need more time. Blogging every other day should give me time to work on other projects.

Life is good. I am blessed.

My friend took this photo of me at Indian Bread Rocks Recreation Area in Arizona.

Buckeye Hills Recreation Area



UPDATE: In late March 2019, I was looking for a place to camp near Phoenix and called to find out if camping was still allowed at Buckeye Hills Recreation Area/Regional Park. I was told this area is day use only, with no overnight camping allowed.

I’d heard of Buckeye Hills Recreation Area (sometimes called Buckeye Hills Regional Park), and it sounded like an ok place to stay. The Divine Miss M stayed in the recreation area on her way to Ajo. She said it was fine, had pit toilets, and best of all, was free. The park had also been discussed in a couple van dweller and boondocker Facebook groups I belong too. I was passing through the area and decided I would camp there.

However, I wanted to confirm it was truly free before I arrived. I got online and did a search. The information I found grew more and more confusing.

The VisitPhoenix.com website (http://www.visitphoenix.com/listing/buckeye-hills-regional-park/5636/) says,

Park hours are Sun-Thu: 6am-8pm and Fri-Sat: 6am-10pm, 365 days a year.

How can people camp in a park that closes?

The azcentral.com website (http://azcentral.com/thingstodo/events/Buckeye_Hills_Regional_Park_735692500728) does not mention a thing about camping being allowed in the park.

The Free Campsites website (https://freecampsites.net/#!9956&query=sitedetails) showed plenty of reviews by people who’d camped at Buckeye Hills Regional Park, but I wanted something a little more official. I wanted to be sure there was no camping fee. I didn’t want to pay to camp, and I certainly didn’t want some authoritarian dude knocking on my door in the middle of the night telling me I couldn’t camp where I was parked or that I had to pay money to do so.

I did some research on the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation website (http://www.maricopacountyparks.net/). When I  clicked on “Buckeye Hills Regional Park,” I went to that park’s page (http://www.maricopacountyparks.net/park-locator/buckeye-hills-regional-park/). The page said nothing about camping, so I decided to call the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation main office. The woman who answered the phone in that office said I’d have to call the office at Estrella Mountain Regional Park to get more information about Buckeye Park. I was beginning to feel as if I were descending into some sort of bureaucratic limbo.

The woman who answered the phone at the Estrella Mountain Park office was very…crisp…just bordering on being rude. I asked if camping were allowed in Buckeye Hills Regional Park. She said yes. I asked if there were a fee to camp. She said yes. She said there was a $6 daily per car fee and a $12 per night fee for primitive camping. I asked her if that meant it cost $18 a night to camp. She said no, it only cost  $12 a night to camp. I asked her if there was a self-pay drop box, and she said yes.

Well to hell with that, I thought as I ended the call. I wasn’t going to pay $12 a night to camp.

Buckeye Hills Regional Park was on my way to where I decided to go, so when I saw the sign pointing the way to the entrance, I decided to go in and have a look around. I figured I could share my findings even if I didn’t sleep there.


View from near the entrance of Buckeye Hills Regional Park.

I saw no sign saying there was a fee to enter the park. I saw no sign saying camping was or was not allowed. I saw no sign saying there was a fee for camping. I saw no self-pay drop box.

I saw the shooting range (signs of the fence proclaimed it as such) to the left of the entrance road. Past the shooting range was a road leading to some buildings. There were no signs saying visitors needed to go to those buildings to check in or pay a fee. I did not drive near those buildings. I followed the dirt road to the right and drove around the loop.

I saw a couple of windblown tents. As I drove deeper into the park, I saw a few travel trailers and 5th wheels parked far apart. I saw some fire rings and a few picnic tables with shade covers. (Most of the picnic tables did not have

One of the few and far between saguaros at Buckeye Hills Recreation Area.

One of the few and far between saguaros at Buckeye Hills Recreation Area.

shade covers.) Campsites were not numbered or officially designated in any way. It was one of those campgrounds where one could tell someone else had camped in a spot in the past, so one figures it must be ok to camp there today.

I can’t say the view was breathtaking or even all that pretty. There were a few saguaros around, but like shade covers, they were few and far between.

There were only a couple (maybe three) restrooms in the whole park. No signs labeled the restrooms,

This is the building housing pit toilets. Notice the lack of a sign.

This is the building housing pit toilets. Notice the lack of a sign.

so when nature began to call–and then shout–I hoped I was in the right place. I parked the van and went into the rather stinky, rather dirty little building housing a couple of pit toilets in stalls.

When I got back to the van, I almost immediately locked myself out and had to ask a family in a nearby converted school bus to help. (Read that story here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/03/30/good-samaritan/.)

While waiting for the son to bring tools, I told the father about my conversation with the woman in the office of Estrella Regional Park. He grinned and said there was no self-pay drop box and no one paid a fee to camp at Buckeye Hills. He said the campground is patrolled by sheriffs deputies (especially because of the shooting range on the grounds), and none of them ever collected fees. He said a person might get hassled for camping in the park for more than two weeks, and then in practically in the same breath told me about someone who seemed to be hunkered down in the spot he liked. He also suggested I not camp near the front restrooms, as he’d camped there a couple of nights before and 39 of the four dozen Easter eggs he’d stuffed with quarters and hidden for his kids had been stolen.

After I was reunited with the keys to the van, I drove around the rest of the park. I didn’t see anything that would make me want to pay $12 to spend the night, but for free, it looked ok.


If you are interested in staying at Buckeye Hills Recreation Area, it is located at 26700 W. Buckeye Hills Drive in Buckeye, AZ. Free campsites.net gives the following GPS coordinates: 33.293172, -112.642783. There is no running water or electrical hookups in the camping area.

I took all of the photos in this post.