Best Camping in Arizona: Top 10 Places to Go
The best seasons for camping in Arizona for high-country lakes and creeks are summer and fall. Also, winter camping in the desert is unbeatable. The state is filled with beautiful adventures for people who hunger for such joys, including deserts, forests, streams and lakes, exotic creatures, and many other amazing sceneries and natural wonders.
Camping in Arizona will take you through deserts covered in cacti, canyons, and mountain peaks. Arizona is a short trip from neighboring states California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; it has a mix of each state's terrain, and certain unique sights found only in Arizona.
Arizona has everything for every camper, including sites with breathtaking views, access to numerous hiking and bike trails, and lakes begging to be paddled. Some campgrounds are less than an hour's drive from the closest metropolis and don't need any forethought or preparation. Perfect for the impromptu wilderness vacation that we all occasionally need. We'll go through the top 10 camping in Arizona and give some advices on how to prepare your camping essentials.
Top 10 Places to Camp in Arizona
Arizona is a beautiful state, especially when it comes to the outdoors. State parks in America contain some of the country's oldest and most stunning natural landmarks. One of the most diverse states in the country is Arizona.
You can camp in Arizona in various locations, including the desert, the mountains, the forests, next to lakes and rivers, and more. From the top campsites to remote camping, we'll explore all of Arizona's best camping options. Check out the list below to see why Arizona is one of the US's most beautiful states.
1. Grand Canyon National Park
Location: PO Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
Website: Grand Canyon National Park
When to Visit: Spring
Best Campsites: South Rim, Mather Campground
Activities: Lodging, camping, hiking, biking, ranger program
The Colorado River and surrounding uplands are included in the 278 miles (447-km) of Grand Canyon National Park in Northern Arizona. One of the most extraordinary examples of erosion in the entire world is the Grand Canyon, situated in the traditional homeland of 11 Associated Tribes. The Grand Canyon should be seen by everyone at least once in their lifetime, and local businesses and outfitters make it possible for everyone to do so.
Even if you don't have much time or prefer to observe the breathtaking vistas from paved vantage points, simply visiting the Grand Canyon leaves people with lifelong memories. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park is the most well-liked tourist destination. There are many places to dine, shop, and camp nearby. Find numerous methods to thoroughly immerse yourself in this natural wonder of the globe if your party tends to be more daring. Any of the access locations' trailheads lead to the canyon's steep switchbacks, where visitors can enter. Grand Canyon National Park is a well-liked national park attraction because it offers a rim to rim hikes, mules rides, and whitewater rafting.
“What an experience! Much more than I expected. I thought that I would be like Chevy Chase in Vacation, but the vistas are so beautiful and intriguing. ”
2. Lost Dutchman State Park
Location: 6109 N Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119
Website: Lost Dutchman State Park
When to Visit: Spring, Fall, Winter
Best Campsites: Phoenix Area, Desert Camping
Activities: Camping, hiking, sightseeing, RV camping, birding, stargazing
The Lost Dutchman State Park, another of Arizona's top camping destinations, is situated in the Superstition Mountains and is the site of a gold mining tale from the 1800s. Just 40 miles outside of Phoenix, Lost Dutchman State Park is a stunning natural retreat with a name derived from a gold mine that may or may not exist. Some people travel there in search of gold, while others enjoy the serene hiking and bike paths or take in the expansive sky near their tent.
An intriguing site unique to this state region is The Lost Dutchman State Park. This region of Arizona is terrific due to the presence of mountains, saguaros, cacti, and what can only be characterized as a green desert. Lost Dutchman State Park is one of the most excellent places to camp nearby Phoenix during the cooler months. A few of our favorite Superstition routes, such as Siphon Draw Trail and Treasure Loop Trail, are accessible from the Park, which hugs the base of the Superstition Mountains. The Park is busy yet well-kept, with roughly 140 campsites, half of which have electric and water hookups. Picnic tables, fire pits, and grill grates are all on the well-kept sites.
“The most beautiful and well-managed/maintained State park ever!! Just stayed four nights, and it was heaven. The abundance of staff was always busy cleaning, clearing brush from trails, checking camping sites, etc.”
3. Lake Havasu State Park
Location: 699 London Bridge Rd, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403
Website: Lake Havasu State Park
When to Visit: Summer
Best Campsites: Havasupai Campground, Lake Havasu Vintage Trailer Rally
Activities: Hiking, camping, bicycling, picnicking, water sports
Lake Havasu State Park offers vast expanses of grassy space and beaches with fine, white sand on the lake's shoreline. The Park provides expansive views of the surrounding mountains and lake. This location is ideal for a day at the beach with picnic tables, grills, and shade structures. You can also remain and set up camp for a while. Group picnic spots are also available for family reunions or other special events. The Park has the Mohave Sunset Trail, a brief but beautiful 1.75-mile hike, and the Arroyo-Camino Interpretive Garden, which is home to various plants and animals.
Pitch your tent on the energetic Lake Havasu shoreline if you want to take advantage of nature without listening to people's bullshit about "peace." Under the front of a lovely stretch of soft sand beach, the campground at Lake Havasu State Park offers campsites tucked away in the shade of a few tiny trees. The breathtaking views over the lake's gorgeous blue waters and the far, lonely hills. Before parking it at one of the nearby campsites for the night, each of which comes with a fire pit, a picnic table, and a shade ramada, spend your days floating with friends or jumping from boat to boat.
“We came to paddle board and picnic. I liked the large restrooms where you can easily change. There were plenty of covered picnic tables with sidewalks leading right up to them, making it easy to access with wheeled coolers!”
4. Patagonia Lake State Park
Location: 400 Patagonia Lake Rd, Nogales, AZ 85621
Website: Patagonia Lake State Park
When to Visit: Summer, Mid-Autumn
Best Campsites: Patagonia Lake Campground
Activities: Hiking, camping, fishing, bicycling, sightseeing, boating
A secret treasure is tucked away in the gently sloping hills of southeast Arizona. Whitetail deer can be seen roaming the mountains in Patagonia Lake State Park, which opened as a state park in 1975. Great blue herons can also be seen on the coastline. The Park features a marina, boat ramps, a creek trail, ramadas, tables, grills, and a campground and beach. Crappie, bass, bluegill, and catfish are abundant in this 265-acre artificial lake. Between October and March, plenty of trout is available, so you can keep coming back for more! See if you can find birds like the canyon towhee, Inca dove, vermilion flycatcher, black vulture, and hummingbirds as you stroll along the creek walk.
Patagonia Lake State Park is well-liked for various recreational pursuits, including water skiing, fishing, camping, picnicking, and hiking. It is 2.5 miles long and has 250 surface acres. The Park is a fantastic location for camping in addition to being great for fishing and bird watching. Thanks to the beach, picnic area, ramadas, tables, grills, boat ramps, marina, and Lakeside Market, you may have a lot of relaxing fun here. With a picnic table, a fire ring or grill, and space for two cars, there are 72 prepared campsites. Some locations also have ramadas. Prices are calculated per vehicle per night. Camp spots frequently fill up in the late hours from May through November. First come, first served applies to campsites.
“We were there on the weekend after school started, and it was still pretty busy. Easy access for shore fishing. The beach area was nice too!”
5. Oak Creek Canyon
Location: 9922 Front StreetHighway M-72, Empire, MI 49630
Website: Sleeping Bear Dunes
When to Visit: Summer
Best Campsites: Manzanita Campground, Pine Flat Campground
Activities: Camping, hiking, biking, backpacking, climbing, diving
Get your camera ready, and bring your hiking boots, swimsuit, and fishing gear. Arizona State Route 89A drops a stunning sequence of switchbacks into a beautiful, lesser relative of the Grand Canyon just south of Flagstaff. Oak Creek Canyon is renowned all over the world for its breathtaking landscape and is known for its multicolored rocks and distinctive formations. It would be best if you halted at Oak Creek Canyon Vista before entering the canyon. You can see what's in store for you in the distance from this point.
It is a great spot to take in the breathtaking splendor of Northern Arizona as you gaze out over the canyon. After leaving the vista, the road descends steeply around several twists before changing to a thicket of oak, sycamore, and walnut trees growing alongside the road. Oak Creek, which runs beside the road for most of the trip, is protected by imposing sandstone cliffs. One of the most well-liked camping areas in the area is Pine Flat Campground, beside the picturesque Oak Creek Canyon.
The sweeping picturesque views that surround campers are unrivaled anyplace else. Various recreational camping opportunities include swimming, hiking, and bird watching. Ponderosa pines around campsites and several are situated right on the banks of Oak Creek.
“A nice drive if you're leaving Phoenix and heading North. It was our first glimpse of the rock formations and the red dirt. Places to pull off and enjoy the scenery. A couple of trails to hike.”
6. Catalina State Park
Location: 11570 N Oracle Rd, Tucson, AZ 85737
Website: Catalina State Park
When to Visit: October to May
Best Campsites: Catalina State Park Campground
Activities: Camping, picnicking, hiking, birding, photography
At the foot of the magnificent Santa Catalina Mountains is Catalina State Park. Nearly 5,000 saguaros and other desert flora and animals can be seen in the Park. Camping, picnics, and bird watching are all welcome in the Park's 5,500 acres of foothills, canyons, and streams, home to more than 150 bird species. At elevations close to 3,000 feet, the Park offers miles of equestrian, birding, hiking, and bike paths that snake through the Park and into the Coronado National Forest. The Tucson urban area can be reached quickly from the Park. This beautiful desert park also has horseback riding paths, and the equestrian center provides a large staging area with trailer parking.
A beautiful camping area with 120 designated spots is available in Catalina State Park. Each location has a BBQ grill, picnic tables, and access to water and electricity. The campground has paved parking areas, access roads to all sites, hot showers, and flush toilets. If you decide to camp there, there is no restriction on the size of your RV, and there are RV dump stations available at the Park. Hiking, bird watching, and shooting stunning pictures of Arizona's natural beauty are all things you may do while there. The campground is open all year round, although stays are only permitted for fourteen days.
“Nice choice of hiking trails - the views change from the bottom going up in the canyon. Moderately steep but not very rocky. Binoculars would help.”
7. River Island State Park
Location: 5200 AZ-95, Parker, AZ 85344
Website: River Island State Park
When to Visit: Summer, Winter
Best Campsites: #30 to 37 River Island’s Campsites
Activities: Camping, hiking, backpacking, birding, swimming, boating
River Island State Park, which is ideal for campers and has a lot of amenities to make your stay memorable, is situated right on the Colorado River. You'll be pulled to the stunning river and mountain vistas thanks to the ramada, sandy beach, cove, and boat launch area, and you might even feel encouraged to remain for a while. This lovely leisure area borders the Colorado River and has paths that lead to the close-by Buckskin Mountain State Park. Both parks are located along the Colorado River and offer breathtaking views of the Sonoran Desert and Buckskin Mountains.
Tent campers will find River Island State Park the perfect place for a picturesque retreat, a desert getaway, or an exciting aquatic experience. There is a hiking trail in the Park and access to backcountry off-road vehicle roads. The park unit is exceptionally well-liked in the summer for boating, fishing, jet skiing, swimming, and camping against a stunning mountain backdrop. Visitors take advantage of the pleasant winter weather and enjoy camping and fishing.
“Spent two nights at Buckskin SP, then moved to River Island. Smaller Park with nice size lots, small trees. Clean restrooms and showers.”
8. Hawley Lake
Location: Hawley Lake, PO Box 550, McNary, AZ 85930
Website: Hawley Lake
When to Visit: Spring to Summer
Best Campsites: Hawley Lake Campground Area
Activities: Hiking, camping, lodging, water activities, fishing, kayaking
Hawley Lake, located on the White Mountain Apache Tribal Lands, is a paradise for adventurers. Sailing, canoeing, kayaking, and camping are among the most popular outdoor activities throughout the breezy spring and cool summer. On the White Mountains Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona's White Mountains, close to Pinetop Lakeside, sits this 260-acre lake. Its high elevation of 8,200 feet and mild, refreshing weather in the late spring, summer, and early fall make it a popular getaway location for desert inhabitants in the Phoenix and Scottsdale area.
Hawley Lake offers a variety of water sports for people of different interests and abilities, from sailing and fishing to more challenging sports like kayaking and canoeing. Your Apache Tribal fishing license can be obtained at the lake shore. Great camping spots are available right adjacent to the lake at the Hawley Lake campground. There are a lot of campsites that are first-come, first-serve. The camps have picnic tables, barbecues, fire rings, and bathrooms. Numerous cabins can be rented from mid-May to the end of September, including campgrounds and an RV park.
“It is quite large. I saw Bald Eagles, Blue Heron, and Canadian Geese flying around the lake. The best view of the Bald Eagles is going around the lake, past the dam, onto dirt road until it curves around the lake.”
9. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Location: PO Box 1507, Page, AZ 86040
Website: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
When to Visit: Autumn
Best Campsites: Beehive Campground, Lees Ferry Campground
Activities: Camping, hiking, flying, kayaking, fishing, boating, biking
With its 1.25 million acres of land, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area provides unrivaled options for backcountry and water-based recreation. The "Grand Circle" of Southwest national parks' epicenter, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, offers travelers unique and rejuvenating experiences. The second-largest manufactured lake in the United States and one of the top boating attractions in the world, Lake Powell, is located within the recreation area.
One of the most well-known lakes in Arizona is located at Lake Powell, which is surrounded by the deep gorges, rocky outcrops, and breathtaking landscape of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The most well-known feature of Glen Canyon is Lake Powell, one of the best places in Arizona for fishing and is home to many game fish that thrive in its crystal-clear waters. For the novice and seasoned fishermen, Lake Powell fishing offers a ton of enjoyment, including bass, crappie, walleye, and catfish. Spend the day on the water or exploring Glen Canyon's numerous side canyons and passageways. Many short to medium-length treks provide breathtaking views of well-known locations like Horseshoe Bend and the Dam Overlook.
“A must-do in the area great addition if you are doing a Lower Antelope tour. Fantastic views and rock hiking. The path is marked by rocks, which is quite impressive. An easy dirt road and Park at the campground.”
10. Slide Rock State Park
Location: 6871 AZ-89A, Sedona, AZ 86336
Website: Slide Rock State Park
When to Visit: Summer and Fall
Best Campsites: Canyon Wren Cabins, Manzanita Campground
Activities: Hiking, biking, camping, swimming, sliding, apple picking
The 43-acre historic apple farm known as Slide Rock State Park, formerly the Pendley Homestead, is situated in Oak Creek Canyon. After moving to the canyon in 1907, Frank L. Pendley formally bought the land under the Homestead Act in 1910. He established a unique watering system that the Park still uses today thanks to his ingenuity, while others failed. As a result, Pendley developed his first apple orchard in 1912, starting the pattern of agricultural expansion that has dominated the area ever since.
Slide Rock, State Park grounds, is dotted with more than 300 apple trees. Frank L. Pendley pioneered an innovative irrigation system for his 43-acre apple orchard, which was first planted in 1912. Float downstream in an inner tube to locate a swimming hole. More than 140 bird species in the fall migrate through the Park on their route to warmer regions. For gatherings, there are picnic spots, charcoal barbecues, and two sizable ramadas with power outlets.
“Swimming was fun, but I was surprised at all the great scenery at this park. The rock formations have red and classic gray hues which, combined with the lush greenery of Oak Creek Canyon, make for great landscapes.”
Camping in Arizona Essentials
The landscapes and places of geological significance in Arizona are incredibly diverse. If you want to learn how to camp, it could not be easy to know where to begin, and even if you're an experienced camper, you've probably found yourself in a tight spot because you forgot to bring something important. With a thorough camping checklist, we rely on memory or experience to pack for a trip, which could result in favorable circumstances. There are some camping must-haves that we usually pack as well as a list of essentials for the best camping in Arizona.
- Campsite Essentials: tent, sleeping bag, table & chair, flashlight, firewood;
- Portable Power Generator: Jackery Solar Generator 1500, Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Pro
- Camp Cooking Essentials: cooking grill, stove, knife, cutting board, coffee maker, food, fridge
- Camping Clothes: water-proof jacket, hiking pants, boots, gloves
- Cleaning Essentials: hand sanitizer, toothbrush, shower kit, suncream, towel
- First Aid Kit: personal medication, bandages, finger splints, eye drops
>> Download Camping Essentials Checklist PDF
A portable solar generator is a necessary tool to pack when going camping. A portable solar generator is a great way to guarantee power wherever you need it, even if there is no nearby power grid. If you're camping or off the grid, the Jackery portable solar generator can keep your electronic devices running for hours or even days.
The Jackery Solar Generator 1500 is an excellent solution for outdoor activities like camping and fishing. Its packages contain 4 SolarSaga 100s (simplified versions of 2 SolarSaga 100X) and 1 SolarSaga 100. Whether you're camping for a weekend or a more extended period, the bundle, which was created especially for these activities, is perfect. 1800 operating watts and a big 1534Wh capacity are features of the Explorer 1500. (3600 peak watts). Three AC Pure Sine Wave outlets, one PD 60W USB-C port, one Quick Charge 3.0 port, one USB-A port, and one 12V car port are also included. It can power up to 85% of the appliances and other significant power consumers in your RV, including microwaves, refrigerators, lights, power tools, and home appliances.
Another option is the Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Pro if you're outside. Because it features an updated solar panel and battery, it is perfect for people who seek the best solar generator. A full charge may be completed in 1.8 hours thanks to four revolutionary SolarSaga 200W solar panels, three times faster than Solar Generator 1000. With a quick and straightforward 60-second setup, you can enjoy infinite green power wherever you go. An entire wall charge may be completed in approximately 1.8 hours. Its USB-C and 100W PD ports provide dependable power for requirements like phones, iPad, PCs, and drones. It has many interfaces, including a DC vehicle port, two USB A ports, and three 1000W AC output connectors.
Input & Output Ports
Jackery Solar Generator 1500
Explorer 1500 + SolarSaga 100W
3*AC Pure Sine Wave AC outlets, 1*PD 60W USB-C Port, 1*Quick Charge 3.0 Port, 1*USB-A Port, 1*12V car port
14"L x 10.4"W x 12.7"H
Mini Cooler(60W) 21H, Ice Shaver (700W) 120Mins, Toaster(650W) 130Mins, Microwave Oven(1000W) 68Mins, Electrical Grill(900W) 75Mins, Blender(500W) 130Mins, Coffee Maker(500W) 130Mins, Pressure Cooker(1000W) 90Mins
Jackery Solar Generator 1000 Pro
Explorer 1000 Pro + SolarSaga 80W/200W
2* USB-C, 2* 100W PD ports, 3* 1000W AC output ports, 2* USB A, 1* DC car port
12.5"L x 6.1"W x 9.2"H
Refrigerator(520W) 1.6H, CPAP(10W) 80Times, Coffee Maker(550W) 1.5H, Microwave Oven(700W) 1.2H, TV(60W) 13H, Tower Fan(45W) 17H, Laptop(65W) 9Times, Electric Blanket(55W) 14H, Kettle(850W) 1H
Camping in Arizona Tips
Arizona is a popular camping destination with its pleasant winters, and a few of our cities even claim to be the "RV Capital of the World." Arizona has a wide variety of RV parks for you to choose from. Here are some recommendations for the best camping in Arizona.
- State parks might not provide full wilderness camping, but according to the webpage for state parks maintained by the Arizonan government, "showers are accessible at all parks with campsites." It is thus somewhat off the grid and has a few facilities.
- Keep camp in a national forest area outside city limits or too close to water sources used by wildlife.
- Do not set up "residence" in the forests. A 28-day term is only allowed for 14 days of wild camping. After that, you can change camp if you stay outside a 25-mile radius of your previous campsite.
- Verify any limits on campfires in the region where you intend to set camp. Backcountry campfires can have a long-lasting effect. Moreover, never leave it unattended.
- It severely ruins the landscape to camp in or drives through vast meadowlands.
Arizona is a great place to go camping since there are so many world-class locations, breathtaking landscapes, and outdoor activities galore. There must be a campsite in Arizona that can meet your needs whether you're camping in a tent, car, RV, or trailer. Activities, including hiking, fishing, and boating, are also provided at several campgrounds. Here are the top ten best camping in Arizona, along with some advice or preparations.
When camping in Arizona, a portable generator can enable you to live more comfortably outside. The Jackery portable solar generator converts solar energy into electrical power and then stores it for later use. As a backup power source in case your electricity goes out for RVs and campers. A solar generator offers a dependable and eco-friendly power supply for your Arizona camping trip.