Best Camping In Arizona: 11 Spots To Savor

From cozy nooks in serviced state and national parks to lonelier outposts deep in the desert, our guide to the best camping in Arizona contains a little bit of something for all kinds of camper.

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Written by: | Reviewed by: Kieran James Cunningham
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Are you searching for the ideal spot in Arizona for your next camping adventure? With vast expanses of saguaro-peppered desert and home to geological marvels including the Grand Canyon,  it can be tricky to decide where to pitch up for your next camping adventure.

Whether you prefer camping under canvas, the convenience of a trailer, or the comfort of a fully equipped RV, Arizona’s camping grounds offer well-maintained facilities and ideal locations for immersing yourself in the breathtaking natural beauty of this state.

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Where Are The Best Arizona Camping Spots?

Here, we present eleven of the best camping spots in Arizona.

  1. The Grand Canyon
  2. Lynx Campground, Prescott
  3. Lake Powell, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
  4. Lost Dutchman State Park
  5. Lake Havasu State Park, Mohave County
  6. Campgrounds A and B, Catalina State Park
  7. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Sonoran Desert
  8. Bonita Canyon Campground, Chiricahua National Monument
  9. Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson
  10. Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona
  11. Spillway Campground, Payson
Grand Canyon Arizona

1. The Grand Canyon

If you want to see the Grand Canyon up-close and personal without contending with the daily crowds, camping on or under the rim is undoubtedly the way to go. The Grand Canyon offers several campgrounds with varying levels of amenities.

A few developed campgrounds are found along the rim of the north and south sides of the canyon. The south rim is the more developed and has one campsite, Mather Campground, which is open year-round. The north side of the canyon is higher and, therefore, colder. Its North Rim Campground, therefore, is only open from May 15th through October 31st. 

If you camp at Mather Campground, near Grand Canyon Village, you’ll have excellent, convenient access to many of the most impressive sites in the park and some fabulous hiking trails. Sometimes, it can get hectic here, but there is dispersed camping available to the south of the entrance in the Kaibab National Forest, which is free of charge.

You can, of course, also camp inside the Canyon itself, but for this you’ll need to make a reservation and book a permit.

Camping near one of the US’ most popular tourist attractions does mean you’ll rarely be without company, but there are plenty of hiking trails on which you can get a real-deal feel for desert solitude.

RELATED READING: The Best Hikes in Arizona for all experience levels

lynx lake Arizona

2. Lynx Campground, Prescott

Lynx Lake Campground is located just outside the town of Prescott, situated on the beautiful Lynx Lake.

The lake offers plenty of recreational opportunities for visitors, and Ponderosa pines shade the nicely laid out, immaculately maintained campground. All the camping sites are well-spaced and relatively quiet and private, and at just a ten-minute drive from Prescott, the site is super-convenient for supply runs too.

Here, you and your family can enjoy excellent fishing, fabulous bird-watching, and many hiking and mountain biking trails all within easy reach. The campground is located in a quiet area at an elevation of 5,600 feet, so the days are pleasantly warm and sunny without being overpoweringly hot, and the nights are refreshingly cool.

Just in case the thermometer does drop, however, every site is equipped with a fire ring to keep you cozy.

There are seven loops to the campground, housing 35 campsites. Not surprisingly, given its convenient and scenic location, the sites get booked up pretty quickly during the peak season, which typically runs from late spring to early fall.

lake powell, glen canyon national recreational area Arizona

3. Lake Powell, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Lake Powell is situated in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, north of the city of Page.

Dispersed camping here is delightful! You can park or pitch your tent right on the shoreline of glassy Lake Powell and enjoy stunning vistas across the water toward the sandstone towers framing the lake. If you own your own canoe, kayak, or boat, you can bring it right up to your campsite on the lake’s edge.

A spacious and flat campground, so you can pick a perfect spot without feeling cramped or crowded. Although there’s a fee to enter the National Recreation Area, camping here is free of charge.

4. Lost Dutchman State Park

Just a short drive from Phoenix, Lost Dutchman State Park offers a perfect getaway for those in the city who don’t have time to venture further afield. 

The Lost Dutchman State Park campground has 134 campsites, half of which come with electric and water hookups. It is also open year round and welcomes pets.

While this park is conveniently located in close proximity to the city, it’s also a short drive from the Superstition Mountains, Tonto National Forest, and the trailheads for dozens of scenic hiking trails.

lake havasu, Arizona

5. Lake Havasu State Park, Mohave County

Lake Havasu State Park in Mohave County provides the unusual opportunity of camping beside white, sandy beaches in Arizona!

The campgrounds offer visitors the opportunity to camp right among small shade-giving trees directly in front of a gorgeous, white beach of soft sand. You can sit and contemplate the spectacular views out over the glittering waters of the lake to the distant hills beyond. Arizona lake camping at its best! 

The park does get very busy with boaters during high season, and this location is not for those who want somewhere quiet to chill-out and unwind. However, if you and your family want a lively, action-packed holiday, this site could be just what you’re looking for. 

All the park camping sites are equipped with water and 50-amp electricity, enabling you to run an air-con unit in your setup if you need to.

Looking for a quieter lake camping experience? Check out Patagonia Lake State Park campground near Nogales, a chilled place to camp and ideal for lovers of kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. And if you fancy something a little less quiet then Lake Havasu City is but a stone’s throw away.

Catalina State Park, Arizona

6. Campgrounds A And B, Catalina State Park

Not everyone prefers a remote camping vacation, so if you’re looking for a well-equipped campground conveniently located near Tucson, campgrounds A and B at Catalina State Park might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Both campgrounds (affectionately named ‘A’ and ‘B’) in Catalina State Park offer expansive sites with paved parking areas in a spacious, flat area. The tent and RV sites have modern conveniences, including showers and toilets.

Despite its semi-urban location, there are some incredible mountain views to be enjoyed and wildlife to see, including prairie dogs, white-tailed deer, and even bobcats. There are many different species of birds to look out for too, and at night the air is filled with the hooting of owls and the yipping of coyotes.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Park, Arizona

7. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Sonoran Desert

In the far south of the state, near the border with Mexico, the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is the ideal place to camp under the stars, free from any light pollution that might spoil your view of the universe in all its glory!

The organ pipe cactus for which the area is named is what attracts most people here, although the landscape makes this one of the most beautiful places to camp in Arizona. It’s a green desert here, a land of saguaros, mountains, and, of course, the organ pipe cactus. The horseback riding, hiking and biking trails around the area are pretty awesome too. 

Campgrounds here are very natural, surrounded by the desert landscape and spectacular views of the distant mountains. There are 208 sites on the grounds, divided into peaceful, generator-free areas for tents and another for RV camping. Thanks to the remoteness of the location, the campground very rarely fills to capacity.

In some parts of the campground, the only sound you’ll hear is the crooning of the wind and birdsong. That said, a reasonable degree of comfort is provided in the form of flush toilets and showers. If you’re likely to arrive too late to pitch your tent, check out the town of Ajo some 20 minutes away, where you’ll find accommodation to suit most budgets.

Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona

8. Bonita Canyon Campground, Chiricahua National Monument

Bonita Canyon Campground in Chiricahua National Monument is situated in the southern part of the state, near the Mexican border.

The Chiricahua National Monument guards a small mountain range called a “sky island” that sits apart from the other mountains in the area. The Chiricahua is a dramatic, rugged collection of natural rock formations comprising massive pinnacles, hoodoos, rock steps, and balancing rocks, all of which make it one of Arizona’s most unique camping locations

Visitors come here to enjoy the many hiking trails that meander up and down the hillsides, winding in and out of the spectacular stone towers, which, to our mind, merit a place on any list of the state’s most impressive natural wonders. Other fun things to do here include wildlife viewing, horseback riding, and stargazing. 

Camping here is especially popular during the warmer months of the year, from late spring through fall. Here, you can escape the oppressive desert heat, as the campground is well over 5,000 feet, meaning that temperatures are generally lower, especially at night.

The wooded area where the campground sits in a shaded grove of pine trees, and the campsites are nicely spaced, providing campers with peace and privacy. You can reserve your site before you come if you want to. Otherwise, the campground operates on a first-come, first-served basis.

Tucson Mountain Park, Arizona

9. Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson

In Tucson Mountain Park, Pima County, lies Gilbert Ray Campground offering a wilderness experience just 15 minutes from the bustling town of Tucson. With 130 well-spaced sites providing privacy, water, and electricity, this campground provides a perfect balance between natural surroundings and close proximity to urban amenities.

This pretty campground is well away from noisy roads and has some beautiful views to the west across plains dotted with saguaros and prickly pear cactus, and to the Santa Catalina Mountains and Rincon Mountains in the east. Arizona desert camping at its best!

From the campground, you can also easily reach the Old Tucson Movie Studios, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and the Saguaro National Park. The hiking from here is terrific too, and the Valley View Overlook trail is just minutes away.

Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona

10. Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona

Oak Creek Canyon, a red-rock river gorge near Sedona, stands out as one of the finest camping destinations in northern Arizona. Resembling a smaller Grand Canyon without the crowds, it caters to campers of all types.

Here, you’ll find places for picnicking, hiking, fishing, and there’s even a swimming hole with a natural waterslide for those who want to cool off after a long day in the sun. 

There are three delightful campgrounds in Oak Creek Canyon. Cave Springs and Manzanita Campground are the most convenient if you want to visit nearby Sedona. There are just 18 sites at Manzanita, and finding a pitch can be tricky.

The campground at Cave Springs is about 20 minutes to the north of Sedona and gives you easy access to the stunning beauty of Oak Creek Canyon without the hassle of Sedona’s heavy traffic. 

There are 89 sites on the campground, and it’s located well away from Highway 89A, set within a peaceful, shaded valley filled with towering deciduous trees that provide visitors with plenty of welcome shade on hot days. This is one of the most popular campgrounds in northern Arizona, so be sure to book well in advance.

The sites are well-spaced and grassy, with some of the western plots providing glorious views of the canyon’s vertical walls. The sites on the eastern side of the campground give onto the lively, rushing waters of Oak Creek. Close by is Slide Rock State Park, and there are also some of the very best hikes in Sedona and Coconino National Forest within easy reach.

Apache Sitgreaves National Park, Arizona

11. Spillway Campground, Payson

The enchanting and cozy Spillway Campground, Payson, is nestled near the shores of Woods Canyon Lake, high up on the Mogollon Rim at an elevation of 7,500 feet in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Approximately an hour’s drive from Phoenix, it serves as an ideal camping retreat for those seeking refuge from the city’s heat and hustle.

Outdoorsy folks come to the Apache Sitgreaves National Park to enjoy a wide variety of activities, including fishing, swimming, boating, and canoeing, as well as for the beautiful hiking trails in the surrounding forests. 

Most of the campsites are just a short walk from the trout-stocked lake, and there are a few located right on the lakefront. The sites are well-spaced and private, and shade is provided by the towering Ponderosa pines and other smaller trees. 

There are only 25 sites here, and all get booked up pretty early. However, there are alternatives at the nearby Rim and Aspen campgrounds. 

All the campgrounds in the area open in late spring, as the climate up there is cool. But if you want to come a little earlier, you could check out the campgrounds at lower elevations around Payson.

Where Are The Best Places To Camp in Arizona?

Much more than a desert wilderness, the best Arizona camping boasts spectacular mountain vistas, trout-filled lakes, rugged rocky landscapes, and surprisingly a pristine sandy beach nestled in the heart of the desert!

We’ve picked out our top eleven places to go camping in Arizona, all of which are spread out right across this beautiful state of surprises. Why not rent an RV, take a summer road camping trip to the Grand Canyon State, checking out the best of our camping recommendations along the way?

How did you like our list of our favorite camping places in AZ? If you have any comments or questions about Arizona campsites, please feel free to leave them in the comments box below. And if you’d like to share this post with your friends, share away!

Last update on 2024-02-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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BrianBioAvatar

Brian has been an avid hiker and backpacker since he was a small kid, often being taken out into the wilderness on trips with his father. His dad knew everything about nature and the wilderness (or at least that's how it seemed to a ten year old Brian).

After high school, he went to university to read for both a BS and MS in Geology (primarily so he could spend his time outside rather than in a classroom). He's now hiked, camped, skied, backpacked or mapped on five continents (still need to bag Antarctica) & 30 of the US states.

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