Maricopa County Parks and Recreation

About Us


Welcome to the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department!

Maricopa County is home to one of the largest regional parks systems in the nation with over 120,000 acres of open space parks that include hundreds of miles of trails, campgrounds, nature centers and the Desert Outdoor Environmental Learning Center at Lake Pleasant.

Currently, there are 10 regional parks in the system which we're happy to report were visited by over 2.1 million people In 2013. Whether you're planning on hiking along a barrier-free trail, enjoying the scenic Sonoran Desert views on horseback, or peddling rigorously up a trail on a mountain bike, the parks offer a variety of opportunities for all types of users, ages and comfort levels. Best of all, Maricopa County's regional parks are all within a 45-minute drive from downtown Phoenix! Our pristine Sonoran Desert park system includes the following parks:

  • Adobe Dam Regional Park
  • Buckeye Hills Regional Park
  • Cave Creek Regional Park
  • Desert Outdoor Center 
  • Estrella Mountain Regional Park
  • Lake Pleasant Regional Park
  • McDowell Mountain Regional Park
  • San Tan Mountain Regional Park
  • Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area
  • Usery Mountain Regional Park
  • White Tank Mountain Regional Park

The department is staffed by a team that is passionate about what they do and dedicated to our mission and vision which are:

Vision: Our vision is to connect people with nature through regional parks, trails and programs, inspire an appreciation for the Sonoran desert beauty and natural open spaces, and create life-long positive memories.

Mission: Our mission, through responsible stewardship, is to provide the quality parks, trails, programs, services and experiences that energize visitors and create life-long users and advocates.

While the park system itself is vast, we operate with a lean crew of 79 full-time employees and utilize a multitude of park hosts and volunteers in every aspect of our operations to keep operating costs low. This allows us to allocate the funding generated from park entry fees towards capital improvement projects such as our new nature centers and quality programs and services. Our organizational structure is comprised of five divisions:

  • Office of the Director
  • Parks Operations Division
  • Administrative Division
  • Planning and Development Division; and
  • Public Information Office
  • Organizational Chart

The park system continues to evolve as we strive to improve the facilities, programs and services we provide the community and feedback from visitors plays a large role in helping to shape that process. This year, in an effort to understand and appreciate how our operational and visitor spending benefits Maricopa County, the Department, in partnership with Central Arizona Conservation Alliance, sponsored Arizona State University to perform an economic impact analysis on eight of our 10 parks. Below are the results of the study:

If you have a question, compliment or concern, please don't hesitate to contact us at

Thank you for your patronage!

R.J. Cardin, Director
Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department

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