Arizona Parks: State Parks vs. RV Parks

The first sign we saw in the Arizona Welcome area

We figured that while in the southwest, we should try staying at a state park. We were advised it can be a cheaper option, and with such beautiful scenery around, we wanted to fully enjoy the area. We found out while driving through the state of Arizona, there is beautiful scenery in nearly every direction you look. So it didn't matter where we stayed, the landscape is pretty breathtaking.

Mike at Standin' on the Corner park - the only draw for Winslow, AZ

Mike wanted to check out Winslow, AZ with it’s Standin’ on the Corner park – from the Eagles song, “Take it Easy.” We found Homolovi State park at $25/night, with only water & electric, no sewer, but an accessible dump station.

Our first evening in Homolovi State Park.

We originally paid for 7 days, which might have been a bit too long; most campers there stayed one or two nights, but we had a few long-term campers around us too. Unfortunately the roads in and out of the park left something to be desired with big cracks in the road every 10 feet. Between the Visitor Center and the campground there were huge, deep gashes in the road; the speed limit was 30 mph, but we both had to travel at 10 mph so as not to break the axles of the car and the RV, or rattle the teeth out of our skulls. We had to make a few adjustments to not having a sewer connection and to avoid pulling out constantly to dump our gray tank. We took showers in their public bathrooms, I poured out dish water in surrounding sand, we used paper plates/bowls and plastic forks, and we were unable to do any laundry, but our washer/dryer was on the fritz so it was a no-go anyways.

With no WIFI and no cable, we worked on a few projects, Mike’s gotten into leather work lately and he’s getting pretty good

There was no WIFI and the closest Starbucks was in Flagstaff (an hour away) so we used a lot of our data while staying there. While the location was over two hours from the Grand Canyon, it was convenient to travel to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert, which were amazing to drive through. We also got to Sunset Crater Volcano, which had incredible views of the San Francisco mountains and solidified lava flows - awesome!!

While it was an experience to stay at a state park, it was not my favorite and perhaps that has more to do with the place itself than anything else, but I’d have to do a lot more research before staying at another one.

Originally, we planned to drive up on the east side of the Grand Canyon to Cameron and stay at the Cameron Trading Post, but after finding that nothing but the Trading Post is in the town of Cameron, we made other plans. We decided to stay on the highways with our RV and drove south of the Canyon. Flagstaff was rather expensive for us, so we opted for Williams, AZ – the Gateway to the Grand Canyon. The park we found is Grand Canyon Railway Park, which offered the Passport America discount so amazingly we got our 11 nights at half off $25/night. It was the same as the state park, but had full hookups, cable, great WIFI (we could even stream Netflix!) and tons of amenities.

As guests of the RV Park, we were welcome to the amenities of the hotel – fitness room, pool & hot tub, and even a Wild West show, which we totally made use of at the park. The Grand Canyon Railway train left a bit early for us and was kind of expensive, but we could see the allure. Another big plus about this park was their policy for recycling – a big single-stream bin to dispose of all our built-up recycling.

The only qualms we had with the place was our RV’s location next to the train tracks, and trains went by daily, even at 3 a.m. The noise didn’t bother us as much, but it scared the kitties, who scrambled under the couch whenever they heard the whistle blowing. The other problem we had were the high winds, obviously this is not the park’s fault, but it must be the season for them – the RV was shaking nearly every night and we had to bring in our slide several times worried the awning over it would tear.

As for the sights around town, Williams is an absolutely adorable little town, but a total ‘tourist trap’ with various references to Route 66 at local stores and restaurants. The close proximity of Williams to the Grand Canyon (1-hour drive) made us able to visit the canyon three days there out of the 11 we stayed there. We walked the South Rim trail on the first day from the Visitor Center to the Bright Angel Lodge, a long 3 mile walk mostly because I had a cold. The second day, I was over my cold, so we toured the Hermit’s Rest trail, the western part of the park. We traveled mostly by bus, but we did do some walking. We were told by the several tour guides the best view is at Pima Point, and they were right. The final day there we visited Desert View, the eastern point of the park. We parked ourselves on a bench next to the Watchtower with a fantastic view. We drove along the northern road, stopping at various viewpoints. We also got out to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, which was kick-ass, but Mike will talk about that in a later post.

Thank goodness Mike can fix almost anything!

We were so glad to keep the discount going at the park - we were going to stay for just a week, but , as I mentioned, we stayed for 11 days at the discounted price. With the extra time there, Mike managed to fix our washer/dryer by installing a new pump and plug. The Grand Canyon Railway RV Park was a fantastic place to stay, considering the price and location, it is one of the best RV parks we’ve ever stayed at during our travels. We loved the facilities offered by the hotel and the town, in the end we really did not want to leave.

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