Maricopa County's Parks and Recreation Department now features the nation's largest county park system, with 10 regional parks totaling more than 120,000 acres.
The park system began in 1954 to preserve the mountain areas for future generations to enjoy. A federal act in the 1970 called the Recreation and Public Purposes Act allowed Maricopa County to acquire thousands of acres of parkland from the Bureau of Land Management at $2.50 an acre. A combination of leased and purchased land has allowed this department to develop a regional park system that preserves open space and will forever provide the residents of Maricopa County with an opportunity to visit "Natural Arizona."
In 1992 Maricopa County entered a 50-year management agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation to manage the newly enlarged Lake Pleasant. At 10,000 surface acres Lake Pleasant is the second largest lake entirely within the state and far and away the largest lake within easy driving distance from central Phoenix.
Today, more than 1.2 million park visitors each year enjoy affordable recreation available year-round.
Each county park has its own unique characteristics offering recreation to Valley residents and visitors alike. Some parks offer boating, picnicking, golf, archery and shooting ranges. Others have camping and recreational vehicle camping facilities. Most offer hiking, picnicking and mountain biking.
Welcome to McDowell Mountain Regional Park. Nestled in the lower Verde River basin, the 21,099-acre park is a desert jewel in the northeast Valley. Elevations in the park rise to 3,000 feet along the western boundary at the base of the McDowell Mountains. Visitors enjoy a full program schedule, over 50 miles of multi-use trails, and spectacular views of the surrounding mountain ranges. A stroll through the park will allow visitors to likely see deer, javelina, birds, and coyotes.