By Shawn Byrne
When the 1,045-acre Vulture Mountain Recreation Area gets up and running with all the promised amenities by Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department, there will be plenty of excitement to go around.
The project that was born in 2006 has a few more years to go before it reaches completion. Maricopa County Parks Operations Manager Jenn Waller told the Wickenburg Leadership Institute on Oct. 1 the parks department is hoping for 2024-2025.
“Fingers crossed,” Waller said. “We have to stay in front of the Board of Supervisors on this. That’s what we do.”
The operations manager is not going to let Vulture Mountain Recreation Area fall to the wayside.
“I’ve worked on this project for a very long time,” Waller said. “You cannot give up, and you cannot stop and say it’s not going to happen. I was literally in tears on some days.”
The act of actual moving dirt is getting closer to happening after the signing of the Recreation and Public Purposes (R&PP) lease between Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and Bureau of Land Management in March.
“To have the board with another agency, a federal agency, to want a formality of the signing – that was a big deal,” Waller said. “In my lifetime of working for the county for 20-some odd years, I had not seen that.”
Phase I of the four-phase project is expected to start in fall 2020. This phase of work concerns making roads and installing the park’s utility infrastructure.
“We have to do the park infrastructure first as the roads are going in so we don’t have to dig the roads up twice,” Waller said. “We can put in pipes, lines, and APS for power. At that time, we’ll be asking the Board of Supervisors for funding.”
Part of Phase I will be rerouting Vulture Mine Road where the big “S” curve, or “Deadman’s Curve” as some are want to call it, is currently and straightening that part of the road.
Phase Two will be in the North Lease Area and include day-use structures such as a nature center that will have a learning environment for children, places for classes and weddings, an amphitheater, and a nature playground.
Phase Three will include construction for the Vulture Peak Campground, tent camping, and an equestrian and group camp area. The campground is expected to have 80 sites.
Phase Four, the final phase and in the South Lease Area, will be constructed for a formalized access road, group camping, picnicking, training and staging areas for off-highway vehicles and host sites.
“We have a contractor on board that is doing the designs, and they are 95 percent complete with that,” Waller said. “We hope to have final construction documents so we can hire a contractor and start building.”