Usery Mountain Regional Park is a staggeringly beautiful place. It’s as “Arizona” as it gets. You will love the view of Scarface Mountain and all of the giant Saguaros. The park is named after a character named “King” Usery who was a famous horse thief.
In the spring there are the Arizona wildflowers but you will discover there is so much more!
There are some amazing hikes in a Saguaro Forest. Like the Merkel trail or the Wind Cave trail where you can see a cave like hollow in the light rock.
Maybe you like the sport of archery and want to try out your Rambo skills in a spectacular desert environment. Or camp under the stars. Or pack your horses and go for a nature ride. Or just picnic in the peaceful Arizona desert. It’s all here and you will find this is a jewel right in the backyard of Phoenix next to Mesa.
In the springtime and early summer after a wet winter you can see all sorts of Arizona desert wildflowers. You can hike on the trails and see the fragile spring flowers until the hot weather dries them up.
Then when it gets warmer the flowers on the various cacti bloom with intense colors!
First stop is the visitor center so you can investigate what the park has to offer you. A helpful volunteer can answer your questions like what to see and where to go. There are pictures of flowers with their names. There are maps of the many trails that you can hike. There are directions to all the various kinds of campgrounds.
And there are lots of things to look at. They have glass cases with a native rattler snake, gopher snake, tarantula, and scorpion for example.
Then there are lots of books and free information to help you understand the beauty of the desert and appreciate what an amazing park this is.
You can find out what to be cautious around, remember this is the wild desert. Things to be aware of are heat and dehydration, violent weather, snakes, bugs and bees. So be alert.
This is a fee area and the time we went the cost was $6 dollars a carload for the day. You can also get a year pass if you visit very often which is good for all the Maricopa parks that are fee areas.
The volunteers are helpful. You can ask for the latest info on things like flowers or snakes or bugs.
There were lots of cool things to buy too. Like scorpion flashlights. I asked the volunteer if the thing worked and he said “check this out.” We walked over to a glass critter case. All you could see is a big rock and a twig in the back.
Where was the hidden scorpion? It had to be in there someplace! (It was hiding under the dark rock and was totally invisible in the shade.) Then the volunteer waved the scorpion flashlight at the critter cage and all of a sudden the big scorpion appeared like blue magic! Wow! Ask for a demo because it’s really cool to see.
Anyway, the visitor center had scorpion flashlights made by Scorpion Master in Chandler Arizona. The light is easy to use and very portable. Sure beats walking around with the old style UV lights with big heavy batteries or an ac cord.
There is even a ranger led hike at night where you can go out for a scorpion hunt! Bring your scorpion flashlights and good shoes!
The park rangers give a lot of walks and talks about the desert. Here’s where to find the upcoming events at the Usery Mountain Regional Park:
A nice easy self-guided hike is the Merkle trail around the base of the Merkle Hills. A hike over the top of the Merkle Hills (too rocky for bicycles) will give you a view of Scarface Mountain also known as Pass Mountain.
The hikes have an occasional sign so you can understand the flowers, animals and geography.
For example, the scar in Scarface Mountain is the result of giant volcanic explosions millions of years ago. The light colored material that makes up the scar is volcanic tuff. Tuff is the name for the layers of lava and ash with lots of quartz that were compressed in this scar-like formation. The whole area used to be a volcanic caldera that blew up. Above the scar is a darker layer of volcanic basalt.
There are 73 individual places to camp. You can find places for giant bus-sized RV’s. Or if you like things more primitive, you can find a campground for tents. There are showers and bathrooms, and out-houses next to the primitive campgrounds. The campgrounds are mostly first-come, first-serve. Call ahead for group camping.
Then there is a 2D and 3D course up the mountain that is awe inspiring. Stay on the paths too because there are snakes in the neighborhood and they are easier to spot on a trail. Here’s a picture of a target at the 3D course, see if you can spot the deer under the peak in the middle of the picture:
The people are cordial too. I didn’t know what to expect and was walking around the 3D course and met a friendly local couple that were coming back down the mountain. They even asked if I needed any water!
The Usery Mountain Regional Park is about 10 minutes north on Ellsworth exit north of the Superstition Freeway. Hours and fees can change so here is the number to check for the latest info: Ph: 480-984-0032.
Here is a detailed pdf map with roads, trails, etc.
This is the main link for the park for more details:
- 365 days a year
Usery Mountain Regional Park
3939 N. Usery Pass Road
Mesa, AZ 85207