Chenery K.
Reviewed Oct. 20, 2017

Fantastic hiking! Camping. . . not so much.

Skyline Regional Park, Buckeye AZ and camping page 

This is a brand new park in the city of Buckeye, AZ at the south end of the White Tank Mountains and is located about 20 miles from White Tanks Regional Park in the Maricopa County Parks district (see my review). The park itself is very pretty, all of the amenities are new and fresh, and several of the trails are under active construction. 

This is a very popular and BUSY park for mountain bikers - I was surprised to see the trailhead parking lot nearly full (almost 2 dozen cars) on a Thursday late afternoon/evening, and as people came back to the lot to leave nearly all of them were mountain bikers, with a few hikers mixed in.

The good - 

It’s neat and clean, nice new restrooms with flush toilets and sinks that also have motion lights to conserve energy - they stay dark at night, so there are fewer bugs swarming around the entrances, although the restrooms are marked with bee warnings.

The campsites are level, evenly spaced away from each other on a long loop, and have big sturdy concrete picnic tables along with a fire ring and standing grill. The parking spaces are easy to back into and help to block the view of some of the campsite from the road.

I stayed in site D, which is at the top of the low hill that composes a loop of 7 sites (A-G) but sites E and F would be my choice next time, as they are terraced into the hill as it comes down from the peak sites of C and D - each of the sites E and F have an erosion wall that makes nice seating (see photo)

Site G is currently under construction, and was not available for reservation as of my stay in the middle of October, but will be the site closest to the restroom and trail head when it’s available. Not a big issue, as each site is only a few dozen yards from each other.

The trail head has a nice map of the available trails, covered ramadas with recycle containers along with trash receptacles, and even a shaded horse hitching post area with an automatic horse waterer. There is no potable water for people to drink in this park.

The sites are cleared of brush/cacti and have a nice wide gravel path to the restroom - I carried a UV light but didn’t see any scorpions anywhere near the road or my camp, which is certainly not the case just up the road in White Tanks Regional part, where the campsites are more desert/less groomed (but have water&electric).

The less than good - 

It’s pretty boring. There are 7 sites that are basically identical with the same view of the trailhead parking lot - it’s nice that the restroom is close, but there’s not much privacy for any of the sites. No trees of any significant size, so none of the sites have appreciable shade available.

I’m not sure who these sites were designed for - they are deep enough for RVs to back in, but there is no electric or water, and they recommend driving 5 miles away to a truck stop as the closest RV dump site and pay showers, so that can’t be very convenient for non-tent campers. 

The campsites have a nice flat area for a tent, but it’s next to the “driveway” rather than at the back of the site so your tent has NO privacy from the road/trailhead parking lot, and the entire camping loop is located on a very uninteresting section of terrain. 

The park is far enough from the freeway (2 miles) that it’s quiet, and tucked into the foothills enough to block the city lights from Phoenix, so stargazing is quite nice. However, it’s under a flight path from Phoenix to San Diego/Los Angeles, so every few minutes a jet blinks through your sky space. It’s also apparently under a flight path for Luke Air Force Base, and I had several noisy jets pass overhead just as I was settling in for the night. I live in the area so those jets are a constant background noise in my life and they were no big deal to me, but might be unsettling for someone who was really looking for a “peace and quiet” camping experience.

There was a fire ban in effect during my stay and they don’t announce them on their website - you have to remember to call and ask before you get there. However, even during a fire ban you can use your fire pit and grill, so it’s really not a big deal unless you were planning to set up camp way out in the desert somewhere.

My least favorite -

The mountain bikers take these trails seriously and are out on the trails with head lamps and bike lights until LATE at night, and their voices carry all over the park so this is NOT a quiet place to camp. 

The signage all says that the trails are open from sunup until sundown, and that the park gates close at 10pm. The reality is that the hikers and mountain bikers wear lights and stay out on the trails until far after sundown because even though my campsite reservation said I would need to use a gate code to leave the park after 10pm, that is not the case. The gate leaving the park has an auto-opening feature, so you can drive up to it in the middle of the night and it will be triggered to open and let you out. Day-use park visitors can and do stay until very late, as there is no consequence for being in the park after the trails “close” or even after 10pm, since they don’t risk being locked in. I didn’t see any park employees driving around to enforce the park closing time, and I did become a little concerned (as I was the only camper that night, and alone with my dogs) when someone drove up to use the restroom at the trailhead at 11:30pm (car headlights shining directly into my camp of course) - again, not much privacy.

All in all - I’d come back to this park to hike any day of the week. The trails are wide and new and well maintained, and it’s a new area to explore. As far as camping goes, there are plenty of nice parks not far from here, so I’d probably recommend driving an extra half hour to one of the Maricopa county parks at Estrella Mountain or White Tanks to take advantage of the same or better mountain views with more amenities.

  • Ramada at the trail head has solar lighting in the shade structure, seating, trash and recycle receptacles.
  • campsite D from the road - nothing fancy, and all the campsites look basically the same with a similar layout
  • Campsite D from a small rise behind the site - looking west towards the sunset view.
  • Next to the ramada is a gravel area with a similar shade structure, equine hitching posts and an automatic waterer for horses to get a drink.  There is no potable water for humans in the park.
  • Trails in Skyline Park are mostly loops, and pretty much all of them originate at the parking lot that is very close to all 7 campsites (see inset on map)
  • Welcome sign and rules for the park - even though the trails close at sunset, many mountain bikers stay out on the trails after dark with headlamps and return to the parking lot late into the evenings.
  • Campsite E - both E and F are terraced into the hill leading down to the restroom and trailhead parking lot, so they have erosion walls that would make nice seating around the fire pits.
  • Restroom at the trailhead - close to all the campsites and has motion lights and running water.
  • Bridge to the trailhead as seen from campsite D.  Everything is pretty compact, which makes for a quick trip to the restroom, but a noisy campsite near the parking lot for a very busy trailhead.
  • campsite D - grill, table, firepit and a level area for a tent.  There is no electric or water for campers in this park.

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