Are you visiting or you’re planning a visit to Estrella Mountain Regional Park? Here are 5 tips before visiting Estrella Mountain Regional Park.
Maricopa County is bursting with beautiful regional parks, fun outdoor activities, and stimulating educational programming. In fact, there’s so much to do in Maricopa that it can be hard to decide where to spend the day or long weekend. However, if you’re looking for a spot that will offer something for everyone in the family, look no further than Estrella Mountain Regional Park.
Read on to learn about what Estrella Mountain Regional Park is known for, the must-see spots, available hiking trails, entrance fees and opening hours, camping information, and nearby accommodations.
1. What is Estrella Mountain Is Known For
Located southwest of Phoenix, Estrella Mountain Regional Park was declared the first regional park in the Maricopa County Park System way back in 1954. Today, the park continues to offer roughly 20,000 acres of beautiful mountain land to thousands of visitors every year. While a vast majority of the park is desert, seasonal wetlands allow for a change of scenery during certain times of the year.
Estrella Mountain is best known for the park’s numerous available amenities. Like we said, there’s something for every member of the family! Visitors can spend their time exploring scenic trails, enjoying picnic areas and baseball fields, fishing in the Gila River, or even spending the day on Tres Rios golf course.
Horseback Riding, Biking, and Hiking Trails
Every year, locals and travelers flock to Estrella Mountain Regional Park to spend their day or weekend fishing along the banks of the Gila River that runs through the park. This river is home to many native and non-native fish species. Fishers of every experience level are welcome. However, a general fishing license is required.
There are two fully functional recreational baseball fields within the park. Both Estrella Park fields have lights available for evening play, as well as bleachers, backstops, restrooms, and large parking lots. Not to mention, you’ll have an incredible mountain view as the backdrop to your game!
Estrella Mountain Regional Park offers the only grass picnic area in the Maricopa County Park System. On the 65-acre picnic grounds, the park also offers 8 ramada areas that are available first-come-first-serve unless rented for a large group event. Each ramada contains lights, electricity, large grills, and nearby parking.
Planning a picnic event? Make a day out of it by planning around the park’s guided star-gazing schedule.
Tres Rios Golf Course is located inside of Estrella Mountain Park. This course’s layout is abundant with shade, mountain views, and natural wildlife. Tres Rios provides quality enjoyment for golfers of every level. For more information regarding fees, maps, and events, visit the Tres Rios Golf Course website.
2. Top Spots to See in Estrella Mountain
With so much to do at Estrella Mountain Regional Park, you want to make sure you catch all of the must-see spots! Whether visiting for an afternoon or a full weekend, we recommend catching a glimpse of the mountains, Gila River, and the park’s nature center.
Sierra Estrella Mountains
If you’re inside Estrella Mountain Regional Park, these are pretty hard to miss. Considering the Sierra Estrella Mountains are the most prominent mountain range south of Phoenix, the surrounding area is known for its incredible scenery. While much of the mountain range is protected reservation land, and therefore closed to the public, Estrella Mountain park’s hiking trails still offer incredible views of the Sierra Estrella Mountains, and they are certainly a must-see!
Even though the portion of the Gila River that runs through Estrella Mountain park is dry for certain parts of the year, it is always worth checking out. Natural wildlife tend to gather here and beginner-level hiking trails along the bank are perfect for dogs.
Estrella Mountain Regional Park boasts Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department’s first green-friendly nature center. This state-of-the-art building was designed to be sustainable and energy-efficient while blending in with the area’s natural landscape. In addition to its fascinating “green” features — like a garden roof system full of native plants — the center also contains interesting exhibits on the surrounding land and rentable classroom facilities. You can also find park rangers who are willing and able to assist you with any inquiries and needs here.
3. Hiking/Trails Information
Visitors will be pleased to find over a dozen hiking trails within Estrella Mountain Regional Park. These trails range from 2.3 miles to 8.8 miles and are intended to accommodate hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders unless otherwise marked. Estrella Mountain’s trails range from easy to strenuous. Here are our favorites from each level:
- Baseline Trail: an easy 2.4-mile loop with a steep elevation gain but grand views to make it worthwhile!
- Rainbow Valley Loop: a moderate 4-mile loop beginning at the park’s nature center. The Rainbow Valley loop is a wonderful way for visitors to get an overview of the whole valley.
- Pederson Trail: astrenuous 8.7-mile hike through the southern area of Estrella Mountain park that will take most of your day.
All Estrella Mountain hiking and riding trailheads are easily accessible and can be found in the park’s arena and amphitheater. If you would like to chat about various routes or difficulty levels, swing by the park office to speak with a park ranger before setting out. Click here for a copy of the park’s trail map. Don’t forget that the southern Arizona sun can be intense even on the easiest of trails. Be sure to bring more than enough water and sun protection no matter what!
4. Park and Camping Information
Park Hours and Entrance Fees
Estrella Mountain Regional Park is open year-round from 6:00 am – 8:00 pm Sundays through Thursdays, and 6:00 am – 10:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Visit the park website for entrance fee information.
If you’re looking to spend a night or long weekend at Estrella Mountain Regional Park, you should consider camping inside the park! Estrella Mountain offers seven RV sites, each with large parking areas that include water and electrical hook-ups, picnic tables, barbecues, and fire pits. You can make a reservation for one or more campsites at a time, and for up to 14 nights. 6 months in advance.
In the near future, Estrella Mountain will begin to offer primitive camping sites as well as large group camping sites as part of their Park Master Plan. Until then, primitive campers and large group campers are encouraged to check out the nearby Lake Pleasant Regional Park for those camping opportunities.
5. Where To Stay
Planning to make a pitstop at Estrella Mountain park but know you’ll be lacking proper camping gear? There’s plenty of affordable accommodation options close by. The closest town to Estrella Mountain park is Goodyear, Arizona. Here, you will be able to find a number of hotel and restaurant options to choose from. If your group is looking for something a little homier, Airbnb offers a wide array of lodging options near the park as well.
Whether you’re a golfer, fisher, hiker, biker, equestrian, or just simply looking to enjoy a family picnic with stunning mountain views in the background, Estrella Mountain Regional Park is a perfect spot. So, next time you’re struggling to decide which Maricopa County park to spend your day or weekend visiting, be sure to consider Estrella Mountain!