Arizona’s First Impression: Camelback Mountain and Saguaros

The first thing we did when we arrived in Arizona was go for a little mountain bike ride in Kingman. And by little, I mean 7.5 miles gaining 550 feet and honestly, it was not very fun. The views were pretty great and we got to see lots of cattle up close but the riding itself was super rocky and more technical than either of us suspected. However, as I reminded myself with every bump of every rock: no matter how unpleasant, every ride will make me a better mountain biker in the long run. So, I got that going for me which is nice. 

mountain biking kingman

On December 2, we rolled into Phoenix and hiked Camelback Mountain. It was only four miles so we thought it’d be a walk in the park. Turns out the elevation gain was about 1,540 feet, though that wouldn’t have stopped us anyhow. The hike was a bit of a quad burner but the views at the summit were awesome. As an added surprise, Santa was up top! With his tree, candy canes, charcoal and all! 

camelback mountain

Camelback mountain

Turns out, after Thanksgiving, Camelback Santa hikes himself (and his tree) up Camelback Mountain every single weekend to take pictures with strangers. If you’re good, you get the candy cane. If you’re not, well, it’s charcoal for you. I don’t think I need to explain who got what up there…

After our brief interlude with Santa, we adios’d out of Phoenix and made our way toward Tucson. That night, we stayed at one of the most remote and cool campsites in our history of van living. This is where our love of saguaro cacti truly began. 

Following our newfound love, we made our way to Saguaro National Park and Tucson. We never anticipated staying in Arizona for four weeks, but that’s the great thing with van living – if you like somewhere, you stay. If you don’t, you don’t. Little did we know Tucson would knock our socks off, but that’s for another blog. 

Author: Lisa

Over one year in van life and loving it. Hiker, rock climber, novice mountain biker, and professional napper. Official “documenter” of our time with Vaniel. Favorite podcast: Stuff You Should Know.

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