Today we took a short trip to nearby park were very pleasantly surprised. Another camper told us about the hiking at White Tanks Mountain Regional Park, we checked it out on-line, and since it looked good we drove over with a picnic lunch. It is about 9 miles from the campground and it is great.
First of all, we did not realize that if we went into the nearby hills that we would find saguaro cactus! There are none in and around Phoenix, except for those that were obviously transplanted. Saguaro are the state symbol of Arizona. Once we got off the floor of the Gila River Valley, there were lots of them everywhere.
The park is a county park, and there are about 10 parks scattered around the edges of Maricopa County. White Tanks Mountain Regional Park is 30,000 acres of open desert starting from the valley floor stretching into the hills and the White Tank Mountains. The eastern half of the park is developed for recreation with roads, picnic areas, and hiking trails. The rest has been left natural.
We made an easy 3 mile hike up to a waterfall and back, enjoying the desert flora all the way. It's been dry so there's no waterfall except for a trickle.