One night in Waddell, AZ–Tucson for Christmas trip

We visited Waddell in December 2023 as part of our Tucson for Christmas trip.

sunset airstream at our campsite in White Tank park
our sweet campsite

If you’re here for info on Waddell, a small town 20 miles northwest of Phoenix, sorry but I don’t know anything about it. I can, however, tell you about Waddell’s wonderful White Tank Mountain Regional Park.

morning on the trail in White Tank

White Tank Mountain Regional Park is a 4.5-hour drive from Las Vegas, plus a time zone change half the year (Arizona doesn’t do daylight savings, so in spring and summer they’re on Pacific time, as is Vegas). It’s a scenic drive that includes the 74-mile Joshua Tree Parkway loaded with the charmingly goofball trees.

Christmas cactus

The park is in the White Tank Mountains, named for the natural water basins scoured out of the white granite, providing water sources in the otherwise dry mountains. Hohokam villages existed in the mountains from around 500 to 1000 CE and visitors to the park can easily spot petroglyphs from ancient inhabitants.

Campground

Bugsy at our picnic table at White Tank Mountain Regional Park
Bugsy enjoying our picnic table

White Tank has a couple options for RV camping, all reservable online. If you’re smaller than 16′ and you don’t need hookups, you can park your camper in Willow Campground. We’re 28′, so we camped in the Family Campground, where you can be as big as 45′ in some sites. Those sites have power and water hookups, a picnic table, a grill, a fire ring, and views of mountains and cacti.

the Airstream and a saguaro at our campsite
camping next to a saguaro!

In our opinion, the best sites in the Family Campground loop are 1, 16, 20, 21, and 18; we had site #1.

Hiking

hiking to the waterfall on the Waterfall Trail
hiking the Waterfall Trail

The trails in White Tank are dog-friendly, and we picked one on the easier side since we were taking old lady Bugsy with us. Our hike combined the most-popular Waterfall Trail with the Black Rock loop for about 3.4 miles.

a white tank but no waterfall on the waterfall trail
this is where the waterfall would be

The falls had no water despite recent rains, but the cliffs were beautiful. The entire hike was very pretty, flat, and well-marked.

As usual, start early if you’re hiking on a weekend or holiday and you want to miss the crowds! The parking lot was full at 9:15 on a Saturday morning when we finished our hike.

sunset from the Airstream at our campsite in White Tank Regional Park
sunset from the Airstream

The park is gorgeous! We loved the camping situation there and would definitely return.

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