One of the things we may overlook or take for granted as full time RV'ers is the holiday crowds at campgrounds. As you travel on down the road to your next destination, you get caught up in the moment, the beauty of the here and now and completely forget that a holiday weekend is upon you as you dream of another relaxing, quiet site with beautiful views. Welcome to Easter weekend at Lake Pleasant Regional Park!! Being that this is one of very few lakes near the greater Phoenix area for boating, it is a VERY popular spot with the locals.
Ok, now that I got that out of the way, here comes our review of this park. Unfortunately, not all that pleasant and after seeing two other Maricopa Regional Parks, I think we have a good feel for what the regional parks are like. Well, we hit sort of a dud here at Lake Pleasant. Part of it attributed to the holiday crowd, but even after they all left, we still ended up leaving a day early. We arrived on Good Friday and it immediately dawned on us that it might be a bit busy because of the holiday weekend, but a campground can only be fully booked, right?, so we thought we would hunker down in our campsite and let the weekend play out before we explored the rest of the park.
There are two different campground areas, with 148 sites total. Both are paved roads with a mix of paved and gravel sites. The two are spread out from each other. Desert Tortoise being down near the lake with smaller sites and Roadrunner being up on the hill overlooking the lake. Roadrunner can accommodate larger rigs in some of the sites but some are not level since the campground is on a hill, so it is pretty difficult to really know what you are getting until you get here. Our site was in a little gravel cul de sac off the main campground paved road. It was down a somewhat steep, rocky entrance and all gravel and dirt. There are four sites there and they probably have the most space separating them than the other sites, which are close together, but I guess with a view of the lake, people won't mind if their neighbor is right next door. These sites are certainly closer together than the other regional parks. We were thankful for being down in the cul de sac area as the rest of the campground was full and seemed even more stifling as campers had their Razors and boats with trailers crammed into the campground as well.
The weekend evenings were a time to let the hair down in the campground with sites blasting their music to drown out the site next to them. The rules of the campground didn't seem to really be enforced over the weekend, although there were campground hosts and police presence in the park. The other thing that really gave us a sour taste about this park was the unbelievable amount of trash EVERYWHERE! When I say everywhere, I mean from campsites, to firepits, to the trails, the day use areas, overflowing trash bins and even floating at the shore line. You see, for the holiday weekend it seemed like a free for all. There was addtl dry camping that was opened up on all of the shore line. Even though a good bit of the shore was on a hill incline, we saw large RV's parked there, tents, full size home grills, floating platforms, boats and everything in between, just randomly jammed into any nook and cranny they could get. No sites, spaces or any logic to it. We called it the redneck riviera because it truly was a cluster! And there was quite the Hootenanny going on! (That ones for you Rich and Ginger!!)
On Saturday, the park started to burst at the seams and areas were closed in the park due to capacity limits, however, they never did close the park to newcomers and a quick jaunt to do some laundry in town, resulted in us having to sit in line for a little over 20 minutes to get back in the park, even though we had a pass. Uuugghhhh!
It was very sad to see the after effects on Tuesday when all of those who vacated their weekend party spots, really left a terribly disgusting sight to behold. Trash, including grill remnants, food, pool noodles, bottles, etc. The even sadder part is that we never saw the camp hosts and park staff attending to the park. We did see the trash truck come thru, but that was about it. At the other regional park we stayed at, the camp hosts were out and attending to the sites after campers left, even raking it for the next camper, but here...that never happened. It was just very sad.
Unless you are here to go boating or serious kayaking (with the boat waves) or hike a very strenuous trail, there isn't much to do and trying to relax right next to your neighbor was not our cup of tea, so we decided to leave a day early. That is why our house has wheels, right?!?!
While at the park we did take the kayak out one weekday morning for a short jaunt. As I tried to paddle, it became very clear that I had not been out kayaking post shoulder replacement surgery and I was not in any shape to take on those rotating arm movements against the water. It was still a beautiful view from the water for the short time we were out there and we still remembered how to ready our inflatable Sea Eagle kayak . For anyone considering a kayak, this is a great way to go. It folds down into a large duffel bag with shoulder strap and does not take up the room you would need for a full size kayak. Plus, this one seats two!
While here we also lucked out and were finally able to see a wild burro near one of the day use areas. We have seen signs along the roads and talk of these guys but had never seen one yet. He was a cute little guy and posed for a couple pictures for us.
One saving grace of staying here were some pretty great sunsets. I must say AZ does have some of the prettiest sunsets we have seen so far. We will miss those as we start to move north and east.
To be honest, it is a beautiful lake and I dreaded writing such an unfavourable review, as I am sure others have had a better experience, but we will always be honest in our reviews as they are our experiences. We also don't want to sugarcoat this lifestyle into our readers thinking we always get great campgrounds and sites, because many times you don't. We can honestly say that in almost a year of being full time, this is only the second campground we did not care for. I think that is pretty good!
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