Friday, February 28, 2014

Campground Review: Desert Trails RV Park, Tucson, AZ

We spent the month of February at Desert Trails RV Park. Described as an active "40+" park, Desert Trails offers 230 full hook up sites and lots of activities and amenities in a quirky, rustic venue.

Many years ago this site used to be a water park. It's been an RV park since at least 1998 when the current owner took over. Not your typical RV park, the sites are laid out along the contours of the former water park and the desert landscape. Common area buildings are older and the desert landscaping is mature.

About half the sites are very tight together and nothing but gravel and half back up to lush Sonoran desert vegetation. Some sites are quite spacious, some are placed at unusual angles just to fit in another space, some are very private, others are very public. It's a real mixed bag here. Each site has a picnic table of varying quality.

We were fortunate to be placed in site V6. Located near the entrance to the park and the office, our row was recently upgraded to 50amp power, backs up to vegetation and has reasonable separation from our neighbors. Our picnic table had such old, rough wood, we not only had to cover the top, we also ended up cutting an old table cloth in half to cover the seats too.

Most folks who have desert vegetation at their site put up numerous bird feeders so the bird action throughout the park is fantastic. Great horned owls, hawks, cardinals, pyrrhuloxia, quail, curved bill thrashers, cactus wrens and more are seen daily.

Amenities are numerous and include a heated pool, hot tub, 3 laundry buildings, huge exchange library, wifi (it's slow), 4 pool tables, gym, complimentary ice, reverse osmosis water machine, recycling, resident massage therapists. Lots of activities are offered including hiking, biking (road and MTB), crafts, creative writing, several live music events each week, karaoke, potlucks. We went to a few of the live music nights and found them to be of decent quality and high attendance rate; most were free, those that cost $5 included wine!

Our Verizon signal was pretty slow, but usable, during our stay even with our Wilson Sleek 4GV booster.

One of my favorite things about this park is the miles of desert trails accessible right from the park. The park backs up to Tucson Mountain Park so you can hike and bike for miles without having to drive anywhere. If you just want to take a short stroll, there are even a few plastic chairs strategically placed for relaxation in the desert right behind the park.

Last year we stayed next door at Justin's Diamond J RV Park (Justin used to own the water park) for a month. At Justin's the sites were larger but every time we walked through Desert Trails we just felt the vibe was friendlier. After spending a month at Desert Trails we can confirm that the folks are friendly and outgoing and love being involved with their park. Many folks have been spending the season here for many years. We are in our early 50's and were definitely at the young end of the age spectrum...which is typical for most private RV parks in Arizona.

We were fortunate to get a nice site; we may not have felt as good about our stay if we'd been assigned one of the really tight, gravel only sites. We reserved our stay several months in advance and requested, but were not guaranteed, a 50amp site. Perhaps our early reservation got us the nice site...I am not sure.

This park is on the far West side of Tucson. To do any shopping you have to drive at least 8 miles, or much further, for the full range of shopping options. For us, the proximity of desert trails overruled the distance to town stuff.

Site V6

Looking down the row behind our rig.
This path was very lightly used, only by those camped along it.

This path leads to the office; the vegetation here was full of birds!

A common sight in the park.

Office and mail center.
Owls and hawks battled over a nest in the eucalyptus trees.

View toward the Tucson Mountains from the observation deck (formerly the top of the water park).

View North West across the RV park.

One of many public buildings on the property.

Miles of beautiful trails behind the RV park.

A fabulous sunset from the observation deck.


  1. Thanks for the photo review of the park. It really helped.

  2. Another great park review. Safe travels! I can't believe it's supposed to rain the day you leave!

  3. We got one of those tight spots you spoke of really ruinedour hopes of staying here for a month we are staying,g one night then moving on to something nicer and more kept up. Good review thanks