Two Terrific Arizona State Parks

For years we have considered Oregon State Parks to be the gold standard of state parks.  We learned last winter that Arizona parks are also stellar.  This month we visited two more terrific Arizona state parks.

Our first was Picacho Peak State Park, near Casa Grande. There is a whole Civil War battle aspect to the park that we just didn’t get to. We were too busy socializing and getting our new satellite dish to work.

fullsizeoutput_4396We spent about three hours trying to get our new system up and working. The manual doesn’t match the current receiver interface and our “lesson” with the installer went awry when he couldn’t get the joey to work.   Many thanks to our friend Dave in Yuma who answered lots of phone calls when our installer Charlie wouldn’t.  We would intermittently get TV but the satellites wouldn’t lock in.  It was a good thing Randy had sold our portable satellite at the park in Yuma or we might have gone back to it!

In frustration we turned it off, had dinner, decided to try again, and everything worked. We now believe that all we have to do is point the dish at the satellites (with the help of our phone apps) verify that the receiver is getting input and watch tv. This receiver doesn’t seem to go through all of the gyrations that our previous one did.

fullsizeoutput_4397It was good to be done with the satellite system because we had socializing to do! We met Jean and Jess while volunteering at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park in May and this was the second time we’ve seen them since.

Over the next few days we were able to spend time with Beth and Art, Rick and Diana, and Ron and Iris. These are all friends we’ve met since we went on the road in June 2014. We’ve know Beth for 3 years but everyone else we met this last year. We heard that living on the road can be this social but this was the first time we really experienced it. Of course, everyone being in Arizona for the winter helps!

fullsizeoutput_439cIt was nice to be in the Arizona desert again and I hiked around a bit at ground level.


fullsizeoutput_439dRandy hiked to the top of Picacho Peak – of course he did!

fullsizeoutput_439eAnd then we had another visitor! Boise friend Mike, now from Bullhead City, met us at Picacho Peak on his way to Tucson to pick up his new motorhome! The next day we were to meet him again at Kartchner Caverns State Park near Benson.

fullsizeoutput_43a2But first we had to set the satellite back up again. Because we were now willing to have the system work without our full understanding, it only took 30 minutes. That’s better!

Mike arrived and we got to check out the new rig! Randy spent some time going through systems with Mike and helping him with a shopping list. fullsizeoutput_43a7The next morning Mike headed home and we started exploring.

fullsizeoutput_43b3We went to Gammon’s Gulch, a movie set near Benson.  The builder and owner, Jay, has quite a history in the film industry. He acted as an extra at age five and grew up in the industry because of his father’s work. Now 70+, he has a 10 acre set that he mostly built himself.


Every western town needs a jail.


And a mine.


Jay and his wife will fine tune the shelves in the store based on the year the movie is set in.

They charge $500 a day for full access to Gammon’s Gulch compared to $3000 a day at Old Tucson.  They have hosted many movies, TV shows and music videos since 1988.

Tours are $8 per person and by appointment only.  Jay gives the tours personally and has a story for every building, every prop, and every actor he’s ever worked with.


fullsizeoutput_43acThis chandelier was from the 1995 Sharon Stone movie (whom he likes very much)  “The Quick and the Dead.”

fullsizeoutput_43b4The saloon, one of the few buildings Jay didn’t build, was created and left by a movie crew . It is movable.  We enjoyed our Gammon’s Gulch visit a lot.

We also enjoyed our visit to the park namesake Kartchner Cavern but I’m going to save that for the next blog post. Suffice it to say that it may be the best cave, with the best story, we’ve ever had the pleasure to be in – and we’ve been in quite a few.


About Serene

Former full time RVers, transitioned to homeowners and travelers. We've still got a map to finish! Home is the Phoenix area desert and a small cabin in the White Mountains of Arizona.
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2 Responses to Two Terrific Arizona State Parks

  1. Mark McClelland says:

    Gammon’s Gulch looks like a great find! We’ve spent time in that area and really enjoyed it.

    We stayed Kartchner Caverns during first year of retirement and loved it. It was in May and the Snowbirds had all left, so it was very quiet (and warm!). Looking forward to reading about your time there.

  2. Teri McClelland says:

    Well, I was going to say the same thing Mark did! We blogged it – May 9, 2010, If you’re interested. We saw some beautiful lizards.

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