If you like rock scrambling there is plenty of that at the White Tank Mountain Regional Park. Staying here you will find that hiking is your major focus as typical desert style camping is made special by the excitement of the trails around you.
The family campground is not one of the largest campgrounds you will find in this region but it fair sized. Spaces are large and spread out making it a great fit for tent campers or RV campers.
When I visited I stayed in campsite 29, on the top of the far side of the loop on the one way drive in. I was a few hundred yards from the restroom facility on a back in space which outlooked toward the desert entirely. The outer ring of the loop, you can literally hike right out of your campsite and be in the middle of everything. I will say however that had I have known a bit more about the area before visiting I probably would have selected sites 19 or 20 which are literally on the hiking loop for Ironwood.
My campsite was pretty typical with a rocky flat area to set up my tent, a grill and picnic table. My site had no shade which was ok when I visited in early spring but would have been way to hot to have stayed here during late spring or summer. This was considered to be a developed site which was $32 a night but I managed to somehow get it for a semi-developed price of $22, still not sure how that happened. LUCKY ME!!
While out here it was truly all about the hiking!! There were over 10 trails which circled and wound around ranging in intensity and distance for any skill level. I tackled the moderate ironwood trail which runs into the Ford Trail, one of the longest trails at the park. I didn't do the entire Ford Trail and instead cut over to another trail at an intersection which looped back into camp. From there I ended up driving to another trailhead, Mule Deer, and moving on from there because it hiked by the nature center.
The nature center here was very cool and I always recommend stopping in if there is one available, if nothing else to get a better idea of what kind of wildlife to watch out for in the area you are visiting.
Bring lots of water. Though there are fresh water stations around, the water seemed to have an odd taste to me, I would recommend bringing water especially if you are sensitive to tastes.
Check out the Ford Canyon or Goat Camp trails if you are really into a challenge. These have a lot of rock scrambling and some of the highest heights in the park. If you want an easy hike with a great view check out the Waterfall Canyon Trail.
This area is best for its hiking and photo ops, in my humble opinion. As with most desert campgrounds in Arizona, there is not much privacy between the sites but take advantage of the beauty. The waterfall trail is an easy hike and very doable with kids. You can only bring a stroller so far unless it's an off-roading stroller but the hike is worth it (especially if there's water flowing). There's a playground across from the trailhead in case all else fails and someone stays behind with he little ones. Restrooms are thoughtfully placed here. DO watch for rattle snakes on this trail and all for that matter. Also, bring a lot of water and then some. Stop at the Visitor Center and library on your way in. You're not far removed from civilization so anything you need is just a brief drive away.
If you like the natural dessert, you’ll love this place. Large camp sites welll spaces.
County Park located just west of Phoenix metroplex, in White Tanks Mountains. Roomy sites, with a mixture of gravel and sand. Had a picnic table and grill. This was a shakedown for our new travel trailer, so we wanted to be near town in case something went wrong. Lots of nearby hiking trails, and restrooms and showers were clean. Campsites are behind a rise, so you see stars, not city lights.
Fantastic park for seeing the stars and getting away from Phoenix city lights. Lots of well marked trails and access to water and facilities as well as access to a county library and education center at the entrance.
I just camped in this park last night in space 17 - the family camping is about 35 sites in a big loop with a central restroom and marked pathways from each campsite to the facilities. Some sites are pull-in/back-in, and others are pull-through along the road. The lowest and highest numbered sites are closest to the staff "residences" with their RVs. Each site has a fire ring, grill, concrete picnic table and water/electric posts. I think site 18 is my favorite, and sites 17-21 are closest to the family campground trail leg that leads to the Ironwood Trail for hiking access.
I've also joined two ranger-led hikes here (Black Rock Loop for sunrise hikes) as well as a county-sponsored astronomy night with access to multiple large telescopes and an astronomy presentation. Check the park website for their activities calendar as there's a good chance you can take advantage of some organized education during your visit.
Located at about 203rd Avenue, on the westside of Phoenix, in Waddell Arizona is a tiny little Campground with phenomenal views. There is also a large group campground and a very primitive "camp ground" available, but primitive desert camping requires a LOT of preparation and packing in/out. There are numerous horseback, hiking and biking trails. Family campground has electric and water hookups with a very clean centrally located restroom, that hosts a shower and flushing toilets.
Views are amazing. Maricopa county operates the campground and has made significant improvements with ramada, gathering areas, grills, fire rings, monthly hikes, educational presentations, a huge public library…every bit in caliber with state and federal campgrounds.