January 2018 – One of our favorite things in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is the places where the arid prickly land embraces water. The city of Phoenix was first settled by the ancient Hohokam people who used the rivers to irrigate their crops. The city was named “Phoenix” because the new modern community rose from the ashes of that ancient city like the mythical phoenix bird. Those same rivers still flow today and in places they have been dammed to become lakes.
Lake Pleasant is on the northwest side of Phoenix, and it is big enough to house a marina, several boat launches, a few campgrounds and an RV park.
The air glistens with a special light at dawn and dusk, and we made a point to get out at sunrise and sunset to see what we could see.
There is something about the stately saguaro cactus standing watch over a beautiful calm lake in pink and blue light that stirs my soul.
Sunset steals over the water gradually, changing the sky and water from shades of peach to orange to pink.
The campgrounds at Lake Pleasant are lovely and offer campsites of all kinds, from up on a hill with a view of the whole lake to down on the shores of a narrow cove. Like all the public campgrounds in Arizona, reservations are highly recommended in the peak winter season.
One day the skies turned threatening, and heavy clouds dripping with moisture reached down to the desert floor.
The only caveat about camping at Lake Pleasant is that when the wind picks up it really howls. One night our trailer shook and rattled and bounced on its wheels all night long as the lake seethed with whitecaps and wind-whipped waves. It felt like we were back in the Sea of Cortez on our sailboat where the infamous Corumuel winds catch sailors off guard every year!!
After we had been camping at Lake Pleasant for a while, we packed up and moved to Canyon Lake on the other side of Phoenix.
Of course, nowadays “we” means not just the two of us but our new furry companion, Buddy, too.
Canyon Lake is one of several man-made lakes on the Salt River. Gorgeous Roosevelt Lake is another lake on the Salt River that we have enjoyed most winters we’ve been in Arizona in our RV. This was our first time camping on Canyon Lake, however.
Down on the shores of the lake Buddy discovered a few new duck friends.
One of the ducks was so curious about us he climbed out of the water and waddled up to say hello.
There is a lot of bird life along the Salt River, from snowy egrets to bald eagles. At Canyon Lake there was a resident flock of coots that spent their days wandering between the grassy shore and the water.
Early one morning Buddy ran down to the shore to admire the sunrise.
Mark and I followed, cameras and tripods in hand. As Mark set up his shot, Buddy gave him pointers on composition and camera settings.
Buddy checked the back of the camera and gave his approval.
We walked along the water until the sun was all the way up. Down by the water’s edge there were some fabulous gnarly trees, and Mark paused on a lower branch for a cuddle and portrait with the pup.
Buddy seems to weasel his way into most of our pics these days. We just can’t help it!
Whether he’s patiently sitting outside waiting to be let in.
Or patiently sitting inside waiting be let out!
If you are visiting Arizona with your RV this winter and looking for a different view of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, try camping at one of the many beautiful lakes!
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More info about RV camping at Lake Pleasant and Canyon Lake:
- Lake Pleasant Regional Park – Located on the southwest side of the lake
- Pleasant Harbor at Lake Pleasant – Located on the southeast side of the lake
- Canyon Lake Marina and RV Park – There’s a senior weekly rate
- Locations of Lake Pleasant Regional Park & Marina and Canyon Lake – Interactive Google Maps
Other blog posts from places we’ve visited where the Desert and Water meet:
- Bighorn Canyon – A River Runs Through It in Montana!
- Waterfront Dining in Arizona – Scorpion Bay & River’s Edge Cantina
- Dolly Steamboat – Gliding Through the Arizona Desert on Canyon Lake
- Fall Colors and Wildlife on the Sonoran Desert Rivers in Arizona
- Sand Hollow State Park, Utah – An Oasis in the Desert!
- Bryce Canyon National Park – “Mossy Cave” – Mystery Waterfall!
- Fall Color in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert near Roosevelt Lake
- Roosevelt Lake – Lakeside Camping in AZ
- Phoenix on the Wing – Waterbirds of Arizona!
- Rivers of Phoenix – Oases in the Desert!
- Roosevelt Lake, AZ – Desert Oasis
Our most recent posts:
- Granite Dells at Watson Lake near Prescott AZ – SPECTACULAR! 05/25/23
- Lynx Lake, Arizona – Great RV Camping Near Prescott! 05/17/23
- How to Fix a Car or Truck Key Fob in Minutes! 05/04/23
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The dog! Oh the dog! I fast forwarded till I found him and read intently after that. What a gem he is.
Oh goodness!! How funny!! He is truly adorable. He’s patiently waiting for his morning walk right now, curled up and watching our every move!
I can tell. Someone is very smitten with Buddy! Great addition to your family (pack) and blog. 😘
Smitten is definitely the word!! He is a great addition to our lives.
We are currently camped in the Sam Houston National Forest northeast of Houston. Verizon coverage is very limited. Do you have a cell phone booster? We just got one but so far not much improvement.
Funny that you say that. We just tried out the WeBoost Drive 4G-X-RV yesterday. You can read our notes about it here in the middle of our post on internet access. We found no improvement just as we found no improvement with an older Wilson Electronics product four years ago. We just live with slow signals and it’s generally okay.
I knew it was only a matter of time before Puppy Chow took over the blog. You realize you need to start the Puppy Chow fan club, complete with shirts, hats, mugs, etc., don’t you? 🙂
LOL!!! I’ll be relying on you to do the graphics!!! 🙂
I can’t get enough of your Buddy photos! The lake and surrounding landscapes are gorgeous, but he steals the show. 🙂
Too funny, Emily! He is stealing the show here all day long and we love it!!!
Love your photography, no matter the subject, but Buddy is stealing the show! Give us more of Buddy and how he is developing.
We are currently at “your” Kierland Resort for our annual trip to Scottsdale. Think of you each time we arrive!
Buddy is making us smile hour after hour, and he’s becoming a very well documented dog as we take a gazillion photos of him every day!!
Thank you for thinking of us at Kierland Commons. Our anniversary is coming up on Valentine’s Day and we have such great memories of our special day at Kierland!
Hey, didn’t you notice that Buddy is “on point” with those 4 ducks! I’m sure he’s part Brittany Spaniel with enough terrier to give him those prick ears. Yes, the whole world loves a dog (except maybe W.C. Fields). Buddy sure is a lucky dog (and so is Mark) – seems to be a mutual admiration society. SK, DVM, retired
Thank you for your knowledgeable opinion, Steward. How nice to hear from a veterinarian! We have noticed Buddy pointing but didn’t know that was attributed to particular breeds. As you say, he must have some Brittany Spaniel in him and a little terrier too — a nice healthy mix! I was looking at an old photo I took of a coyote the other day, and the ears, nose and face were really similar too, much more-so than many dog breeds!!!
New commenter here! I have been following your blog for almost two years as my husband and I begin serious planning for our upcoming retirement years and life in an RV. We so appreciate your technical articles! We acquired a Brittany pup in November of 2016 and he has changed our lives! I, too, think Buddy has many Brittany traits. We chose a Brittany for their size, energy, cleanliness, and how well they get along with people and other animals, knowing we would be leaving our sticks and bricks and traveling around the country. I’m so happy Buddy found you!
We are so happy too, Lisa. For the past few days we have been involved in a project that involves a lot of people and a lot of commotion, and Buddy has been an incredible little trooper. The Brittany seems to be a wonderful breed, and I’m sure your dog will love your travels — as you will!! Have fun planning for your adventure and downsizing into your new RV, and enjoy every minute on the road. It makes us both feel really good that we could play some small part in helping you make your retirement travel dreams come true!
What brand tripod or type of tripod head is Mark using to vertically position the camera like that? Thanks
We use the Sunwayfoto L-brackets on our cameras. This is the one for the Nikon D810. We have several tripos and tripod heads and have a review of one set here. We also have a detailed page describing all of our photography gear and the tools we used to learn photography and to process our photos here.
Clearly you’ve developed a lot of love for your new companion, and he for you two! Your wide smiles when you’re engaging with Buddy reminds me of the endless smiles we have for our dog, who is also an awesome camper. They have a way of warming our hearts, and being worth every bit of trade-off. Enjoy, enjoy!! And, thanks so much for your wonderful blog – we enjoy every single publication!
Thank you so much, Gigi! It is going to be easy and fun to share our stories about Buddy. He is continuing to amaze us every day. We went for a wonderful early morning hike this morning, and after he got most of his wiggles out he trotted along right behind us on the trail without his leash without dashing away to explore the millions of distractions. Incredible! Now he’s crashed on the daybed recharging his little battery. Enjoy your happy camper dog, and thank you for appreciating our various online articles here!
Nice! He was meant to be your dog. If you ever get to Prescott, drop an email, would love to meet you and Buddy: email@example.com.
Thank you, Gigi! We are definitely a lucky trio and are grateful the stars aligned for us. Thanks for your info too!
Gorgeous lakeside sunrise/sunset pics…and now you are a three-some adventuring !
It’s a very special and fun new twist to have Buddy along for the ride — and our beautiful photos will keep on coming!!!
Wow! Those lakes are so beautiful in the desert. This past December, Rob and I went to Scottsdale and did some hiking in the neighboring areas. It too was lovely but, not near as pretty as the lakes. Guess next time we’re out there we will have to check out the lakes. We continue to enjoy watching your travels. As always, thanks for sharing.
Hi Rose & Rob — Thanks so much for following our adventures after all these years! The Sonoran Desert lakes are truly beautiful, and each one is a little bit different. I hope you check them out and do a few shore side hikes on your next trip to AZ!!