First Time at Usery Mountain Regional Park

I am pretty sure that we had our shortest travel day ever as we only had to drive 13 miles from Lost Dutchman State Park to Usery Mountain Regional Park.  Even though they cost the same and the basic terrain is the same, the two parks have a very different vibe.  Lost Dutchman has better views and it’s extremely clean and orderly, but Usery has a more natural landscape, the sites are bigger and more spaced out, and the vibe is much more relaxed.  Because there were more openings at Usery we were able to get campsites all in a row and despite different departure times we all rolled in around the same time.  The park is water and electric only, so we visited the dump station right when we arrived and met a very nice couple from Connecticut who had just retired and purchased their first ever small travel trailer.  The husband was dumping for the first time and since he was only using what the dealer gave him in the way of hose, seemed at a bit of a loss.  The etiquette is to never offer assistance unless it’s requested, but when the gentleman was honest about how he wasn’t sure what to do Lee spent some time walking him through it.  Lots of people helped us when we first started out, so we always like to pay it forward, but again, only if someone asks.

After we got them squared away we emptied our own tanks, and then headed to our site, and it was a beauty.  The angle was a bit odd, so it took a few tries for Lee to put the rig right where he wanted it, but once we were settled I was really happy with the surroundings.  Deb did walk over and say they saw a pretty big snake when they pulled in to their site, so I was very careful about where I walked during setup.  In the entire time we’ve been on the road I have never seen a snake of any kind in the wild, which is fine with me because while I appreciate their purpose, I’m not a huge fan.

Our site, taken from the very back end. In the next picture you see can the picnic table in the distance, that should give you an idea how roomy these sites are.

Our rig

Deb and Steve on one side

Cori and Greg on the other

Cori made ribs for everyone for dinner in the Instant Pot and I paid close attention to how she did it.  She uses hers all the time with great success, and although I like mine I am not nearly as advanced as she is.  Once the ribs were finished, Greg crisped them up on the grill and added the sauce and everyone loved them.  They were fall off the bone tender and really flavorful.  I am definitely adding the recipe to my next cookbook, once I try it myself to make sure I can duplicate her efforts.  She also made Macaroni and cheese in the Instant Pot and cole slaw, and Deb made strawberry shortcake!!  Then we all settled in for a nice fire and enjoyed the night.  Unfortunately, one of those fast desert storms came up with wind, lightning, and rain and we all had to go inside, but it was a great way to break in a new campground since none of us had been here before.

Deb added lemon flavored olive oil which made this desert extra yummy

The next morning I got up pretty early (Lee and I are still trying to get readjusted back to our pre-gate guarding sleep schedule) and decided to take a walk and get some pictures.  Right across from Deb’s campsite is a 1/2 mile nature trail, which has signs showing the different plants and is a paved path.  You can walk through the desert here, but I was nervous about it so felt much better staying on the path.  I saw lots of birds, several chipmunks (couldn’t get a pic) and enjoyed the flowers in bloom.  There isn’t as much color here as there was in Lost Dutchman, but I actually saw more animals on the walk.

This beautiful house is on a hill behind the campground. Nice pad. (Update: We learned later this is Stevie Nicks’ house)

People sometimes have the misconception that the desert is barren, and certainly some desert we have seen is, but in the area near Tuscon and Phoenix it is full of stuff and has it’s own beauty. It is also teeming with wildlife.  We have seen doves, quail, roadrunners, and hawks along with lizards and chipmunks.  Most everything is a brown or grey color to blend in so you have to look harder, but it’s all there.  I came back from the walk and got our laundry together because Cori, Deb, and I all went to a local laundromat.  We didn’t absolutely need to go, but it’s best to stay on top of it when you are on partial hookups plus it was a chance to hang out with the girls. On the way I saw my very first snake. Thankfully I was in the truck and it was stretched out on the black top covering about half the road but on the other side from where I was driving.  I slowed down to get a look, and it had the coloring of a rattlesnake, but to be honest I am not totally sure if that’s what it was.  It wasn’t that scary since I was sitting in my big truck, and I wish I would have taken my camera with me.  I swear that happens every time I leave it behind.

After that bit of exictement I followed Cori and Deb to the laundromat and unfortunately for me it was not the greatest.  I must be spoiled by the excellent one in Dilley, TX, but this one was crowded, had no restroom, and very limited seating.  But as Cori said, it served it’s purpose, I was just happy to get back to the peaceful campground.  Plus Kat and Bert were coming in today and I wanted to greet them.  We met Kat and Bert at the 2016 RV-Dreams rally and liked them right away.  We met tons of great people at that rally, but they are the first to be in the same area we are.  Bert reads the blog and reached out when she saw our paths would cross, and she ended up booking a spot in the same campground. I wanted to make them dinner since it was their travel day, and we all met for happy hour and I made chimichangas.  Cooking for 8 can be a little challenging with limited kitchen space, but Deb loaned me her stove and with some careful coordination we made it work.  Deb made beans and Cori made rice so we had a full meal which I was pretty happy with.

From left: Kat, Bert, Steve, Lee, a mountain top, Cori, Greg, Deb, and me, and a cactus.

My pretty chimis and they tasted good too.  I also served Kelly’s Queso dip as an appetizer. Made a double batch, Kelly, and it was almost all gone at the end.

After dinner we had a campfire and stayed up until 10pm telling stories and exchanging experiences.  It was really nice getting to know them better, and they were very patient listening to our stories. The next morning we all wanted to go kayaking, but the wind was too strong, so six of us went to the Superstitioun Mountain museum and Goldfield, and old gold mine town.  Both were free and a little touristy, but we did have some opportunity for some great pics. (The gift shop and outside area of the museum was free, but the interior museum required admission. – Lee) 

The museum

Some movies were shot here and I liked the cowboy boot prints

Who knew there were this many kinds of rattlesnakes??? Yikes!!

Giant stamping machine used in the 1800s to pulverize ore. It was moved here and restored, and they operate it on weekends for visitors.

Yes I have to always sit on the thing and take the pic!

Everyone’s favorite was this giant, outdoor train with tons of detail really neat

This little guy was my favorite. The sign was pointing to the Lost Dutchman Mine

(I took lots and lots of pictures of the model railroad, because I think they’re incredibly cool. Tracy says it’s not a good idea to put too many pictures in one post. I don’t work and play well with others. If you don’t like super awesome pictures of model railroads, go ahead and scroll past the next 20 pictures. But if you’re one of the cool kids, and also like pie, welcome to the club. Enjoy. – Lee) 

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I wasn’t supposed to put this one in because it’s the same one she put in above, but hers didn’t include the bear. 

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OK, back to the regular post.

The gold mine was right down the road mainly shops, but had a neat vibe. We went straight to lunch at this Saloon

Hats and boots on the ceiling

Our waitress was the only one wearing a costume.

Service was slow, portions were small, and on the pricey side, but the company was awesome!!

We went straight from the restaurant to a geocache hotel

Lee and Cori figuring it out

It was heavy!

The black and white tube was a huge log you could write on

The “sheet” to sign

Steve talking Cori and Lee through how to handle trackables

Cool cowboy church

I really liked the bordello

This was by far the best shop. All handmade.

Touristy, but a neat place to stop

Had to take some black and white

After we ate and shopped we came back and dropped off our extra books in the little free book area of the campground and then Kat and Bert treated us to Spaghetti Bolognese and bruschetta with homemade flatbread.  So, so good, and Steve broke out some nice red wine he brought from their personal collection in California.  Another nice campfire and then off to bed.  Tomorrow is the Boyd Thompson Arboretum.


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15 thoughts on “First Time at Usery Mountain Regional Park

  1. Hi guys! Excited to hear you are coming to Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Sorry we won’t be working to meet you. We have volunteered here since December. It is just a beautiful place. It’s good for your soul 🌵🌸

  2. While you are there, please go see Tortilla Flats and go see the wild horses on Bush Highway. You can’t always find them but give it a try. They are amazing. Also a great place to eat is Organ Stop Pizza. It is very touristy but everyone has to go there once while in Mesa. The organ man and the organ is amazing. San Tan Flats restaurant (for steaks) Woochi ( Chinese) on signal Butte is also a great place to eat and you have to go the Olive Mill on Ironwood., where you can take a tour on how they make Olive Oil. Take a day trip to see the top of Phoenix at South Mountain Park. A trip to Globe to see the ruins, Besh Ba Gowan. Also a day trip to Roosevelt lake to go see the caverns and caves. It is about a mile hike, easy, but worth it. We love Apache Junction, that is where we winter. We met you in Quartzsite and are friends of Ellen and Mario Bendanna.

    • Also, if you want stop shopping, you have to visit the Mesa Swap meet just of signal butte and baseline. You will think you were in Mexico again. All new stuff, but its free to look. May take several hours to see everything. Only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They even have a live band and some fast food places (hot dogs and stuff)

  3. Lee all the photos are great. You know me it’s all about the pictures, each one say a thousand words. So you said it all. Also Tracy I love the black and white photos so cool! Rick

  4. Wonderful post and what a fun time all of you had. Lee, we like pie and loved your photos of the miniature railroad. If someone hadn’t read and just scrolled through you wouldn’t realize they were miniatures…well, except for the one with the white plastic steer;o))

    Keep having fun………

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