Arizona boasts itself as the gateway to the Grand Canyon. And, it’s true: There’s no better place to set off into the red- and orange-painted cliffs, winding canyons, and rippling rivers of this wild and grand desert landscape. But, camping in Arizona doesn’t stop at The Big Ditch. From Flagstaff to Sedona, and beyond, you’ll find some of the best desert camping in the U.S. right in this state.
The Colorado River carved through 277 miles of ancient sandstone and limestone to form the Grand Canyon. Stop along the edges of this natural wonder for some of the most famous and scenic camping in Arizona. Go straight to Grand Canyon Village and camp at the Mather campground on the South Rim to experience the best pit stops and catch jaw-dropping canyon views on the Bright Angel Trail. Or, opt for areas less saturated with people and head to Desert View Campground on the South Rim. Hike to Coconino Overlook to sample views of the massive canyon or put your boots on the Arizona Trail, one of the country’s National Scenic Trails.
For those interested in venturing into other parts of Arizona, head to Sedona for more red rock desert camping. There’s a variety of things to do in Sedona, and camping, of course, is one of the best. From red rock canyons to rock formations fabled as energy vortexes, you’ll find views and adventures in Sedona unlike any other. Camp at Pine Flat Campground, where tall ponderosas brush up against red rock walls. Get up to hike for sunrise or start out at sunset to see the best colors amidst the desert. Or, bring your bike along for the ride to experience world-class mountain biking trails right in Sedona.
Whether it’s hiking, biking, or just sleeping beneath the desert sky when camping in Arizona, the state is truly an outdoor-lover’s desert mecca. So grab your tent and head to the edges of the Grand Canyon or into the quiet nooks of Sedona and discover a land of red-rock beauty.
My boyfriend and I spent a weekend at this spot which was a bit out of the way, but fairly easy to access. Exactly what we were looking for with much appreciated privacy and no one else around. Fires were allowed and there was a peaceful spring nearby. We didn’t find the waterhole we’d heard about but had a great time regardless! We even were lucky enough to fall asleep to a light rainstorm. Definitely a spot to revisit 💯
The tent campground is fairly basic, but they have a picnic table and fire ring, nice restrooms and a beautiful view of Lake Powell. There are also showers and laundry machines at the registration building. I would definitely stay there again!
Just bought my camper so this was the close place to test it and it is wonderful. No cell reception but free WiFi is a bonus! Bathrooms were very clean and new. Half of the camping spots were pull throughs which are nice if you are still practicing to back in. Trailer spots are next to the tent spots. Can walk down to the water a little ways where there is a small place to eat. Very dark at night and great to see stars!
Weekend adventures at the lake are always fun especially at Lake Pleasant. When camping here, be prepared for plenty of company as camping fills up quick. If you are ok with the sound of generators then you love the amazing views, easy access to the water and convenience of not leaving town!
Larson Ridge is easily becoming one of my new favorite campgrounds. The sites are within a 1/4 mile of the highway (close enough to see the vehicle lights at night) but there is no highway noise. The numbering on the sites is odd because I can't find 60+ sites but that's how they are numbered. You do need to camp in the designated spots and the forestry service does come through and kick you out if you aren't.
The bathroom is very simple. One men's and one women's. There is a sign that the bathroom is maintained by volunteers. I've always seen it stocked with toilet paper but the floor is normally dirty and the trash is half full. So far even in the cold weather the campground has been very busy so I imagine during the summer getting a spot could be tricky. From what I can tell most sites could be reached by a car and had room for smaller trailers or tents. The fire pits are just rock rings so be prepared to need to work on it a little
This is a VERY easy campground to get to. It's all paved and the sites are easily accessible. We got a site on the end of a loop so we had a little privacy but overall the spaces are kind of close together so plan to hear your neighbors. You can get campsites within 100 feet of the water's edge (and they have cabins for rent too). The pits were well kept and had the built in BBQ grate.
The bathrooms were clean and had hot showers. There was a nice loop around the lake you could walk/hike or in our case ride with the bikes. We didn't try fishing but there were a lot of people fishing from the pier. I don't think you can do much shoreline fishing just because of the grass/weeds.
They have a visitor center/gift shop that you should check out. it sounds like they do special activities occasionally also.
The are had very active raccoon presence so be sure to lock up your goodies when you aren't in camp.
Catalina State Park was beautiful in a very unique way. The campground sits at the base of the Catalina mountains and it made for gorgeous views. The landscape is pretty standard desert. There was a lot of plant life but not a lot of green. There are a ton of ants and other desert crawlies (just be prepared). Most of the spots are not well shaded so I don't think this is a very good summertime campground unless you are in an air conditioned camper of some sort. Some of the sites do have electric and water which is a nice perk. The campground is literally right on the edge of town. The road you take to get into the park is at a stop light intersection with a shopping plaza on the other side. Even with the close proximity tot he highway and town I didn't notice any unwanted noise.
The bathrooms were really well kept and had showers that even in the cold of November were putting out hot water. There are a ton of neat little hiking trails through the park (and quite a few geocaches). I could totally see this being a fun place to take pictures just because of the views. If you are looking for a large group event they had some facilities that could accommodate. My biggest dislike about this campground is they do not allow wood fires at all. It makes sense because EVERYTHING there is super dry but with the cool night temperatures (even when it was hot mid day) you couldn't warm up with a roaring fire. As a workaround you can use the fake logs in the BBQ pit (but they didn't seem to put off enough heat for us) and it looked pretty silly having 5 people standing around a BBQ pit trying to warm up!
We brought our pop up camper and stayed at the lower burnt coral shoreline over the week days. I heard from other campers who were more regular that it gets busy on the weekends and tends to fill up, but we did not have that problem. We ended up having plenty of room and privacy.
There was plenty of shade and restrooms, although some of them were pretty nasty(that was our only complaint but hey it’s camping).
We were told by the ranger there that Tonto passes are valid, although sights are posted that state otherwise.
There were also spots with pads and water spigots. Benches at every site.
This instantly became a favorite spot with nearly every spot located right on the water.
The campsite itself is simple, clean and quiet. Due its location, its easily accessible and the sunsets and sunrises are wonderful. If astronomy is your thing, the view of the night sky is spectacular. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable. As I stated earlier, this campsite is simple, no frills, but as a tent camper with a dog, this location was great.
Nice quiet area, short drive to Williams, Az & Flagstaff. Restrooms are available but no showers at the location I was at. The grounds were extremely clean. Fire pits available, two large concrete picnic tables were on the site. We had 3 cars there and plenty of room at this site. I’d stay here again if I could.
May, 2019 we visited Saguaro National Park near Tucson AZ. We had planned to hike into the park at one of their few campgrounds but the office informed us that there was a controlled burn and recommended we not stay in the park and suggested Gilbert Ray as a good option. Gilbert Ray Campground is a great location for visiting the National Park. We arrived to find the office closed for the summer, so self serve option was available, at 10.00 per night for tent camping you can’t beat the price. The bathrooms were clean and as an added plus they have a dishwashing station. We stayed in the A loop. There are no showers and the campsite it all gravel making it next to impossible to put a tent stake in. The sites are fairly close together, for example, I could hear our neighbor unzip his tent. All sites have picnic tables. Cell service is good.
There are tons of in camp activities for the children to do like playing in the park or go karting. Hamocks are not allowed on trees and fires were also banned due to the wind. Facilities are clean and nice. There is a game room in the laundry room and the pool was indoors.
This park was such a wonderful respite for us as we journeyed thru SW. Price is amazing at $25 for full hookup- and with Good Sam it was even cheaper. Bathroom/showers/laundry facilities are beautiful. Beautiful patio with comfy chairs and little patio fireplaces. Ping pong table and direct tv and WiFi that works at campsite. I really can’t say enough. We plan on staying a second night after going to see Grand Canyon.
Other than being close to the highway, we love this campground. It is in a heavily wooded forest next to Oak Creek. It has multiple bathrooms and accessible drinking water. A decent distance from other campers and a large camping area. Staff is friendly, and close to all that Sedona, Arizona has to offer. Highly recommend!
We LOVE Houston Mesa! This is our second time staying here, and we had an even better time this time then last time (and we had an amazing time last time, so that was hard to beat).
Located just 1.5 hours from Phoenix, this is a super easy getaway from The Valley. Houston Mesa Campground is also right off the main highway of town, so if you forgot something (or just want McDonalds instead of hot dogs) you can find civilization about 2 minutes away.
This time we went up with friends and stayed at sites Black Bear 4 and 5. These sites were PERFECT to book together, since they made one huge space when connected. We had 3 families, each with large tents, and had plenty of space. We will stay at these same sites next time. The bathroom is also right next to site 3, so it was easy to walk to.
Bathrooms are clean and have flush toilets. There are showers available at a central shower building, but we did not use those.
Each site comes with a picnic table and a fire pit (complete with BBQ grill topper). I also found the sites to be freshly racked on arrival, so that was nice.
There is also a great nature walk at the park that you can do with young kids. Every few feet is a sign describing local animals and plants.
A short 15 minute drive away is the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park -- a must see in the area! Beautiful and easy hike to see a absolutely gorgeous natural wonder.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - at Houston Mesa I was testing the GrubStick Deluxe Kit.
Wow. Wow. WOW. This set is a GAME CHANGER for campfire cooking. We have been using dinky little forks forever and having to buy new ones every few trips because they get bent out of shape or burned up. This kit will last you FOREVER. They are so well made!
This kit includes two grippy telescoping handles, and then a ton of accessories (2 fork toppers, a cage for whole S’mores, a cage for burgers, a small metal rod to make bacon cups, and a large metal rod to cook dough). There are also 4 other accessories, like hot pags and cage openers that are thoughtful additions. AND they come in their own mini duffel bag!
My friends were seriously blown away when they saw our set and were asking so many questions about it. My favorite part was the dough rod, because we made delicious campfire cinnamon-sugar crescent roll cylinders!!
5 Stars for GrubStick, can’t wait to try out new recipes!
Check out my video review here: https://youtu.be/JPNznJ7wApE
In the middle of the desert, there is an excellent oasis of lush trees and a cold creek. The hike to the creek can be long and hot, so plan accordingly. (It's Arizona. Please always have water with you.) There are parking lots giving better access, but they fill up quickly.
The campsites contain little more than a fire ring; our site did not have a table or any kind. I personally prefer this, but realize many people don't know proper waste disposal. Speaking of waste… no trash service is available and there are few toilets. Basically: Pack it in, pack it out.
Our kids had an awesome time, especially when they found the rope-swing… total freedom.
We took SR 260 from Camp Verde and had no trouble navigating the dirt road in my Subaru, but it hadn't rained recently. I imagine the dirt road becomes quite a bit rougher after rains.
You must have a permit now to camp: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=75356
I use the north entrance off Bush highway. I've camped here 5 or 6 times. No water or bathrooms. Leave no trace. You need a permit and gate code. Most ATVers but not loud during the week. Ive had wild horses walk by. Love it there.
This place has it all. River access, 2 lagoon areas, horseback riding (not affiliated with park), hiking, a playground with a zip line, fishing and Cottonwood is 1 mile away! There are full hook up sites and tent camping plus cabins. I love this state park- camp hosts are helpful.
This campground is found between the town's of Superior and Miami, Arizona, so if you are not am experienced camper, you could always drive to town in a pinch if you needed something or forgot something.
Some of the campground is along a wash, with a small pond on the west side. The official campground site is relatively small and has more established sites, but remote camping is found further down the road. Oak Flats Road provides a few miles of rougher trails (some might call them Jeep trails, but someone who knows what they are doing could get through most of it in a car) and would be great for a short overland type camping experience.
There are some great views with just a short hike and can make for a rewarding one day camp, or camp for a couple days.
There are is a bathroom within the small, more established campground, but no other facilities (including trash) so you must pack in and pack out whatever you are going to use.
Stayed at a FHU PT for the night, on my way to the Petrified Forest. The sites are gravel, but not well maintained compared to other campgrounds that are all gravel. There was a lot of machinery and work equipment laying around. The staff was very friendly and the shop was very well stocked. A little overpriced imo.
I stayed 5 nights here, back in with FHU. The staff was very friendly and the proximity to downtown is great! I was all the way at the front near the bathroom/office, but also near the street. A lot of foot traffic throughout the night being in an urban setting. Next time, I'll request to be a little further back into the park itself.
I stayed for a week in a pull-thru with full hookups. The park is all concrete and gated, which I appreciated in an urban setting. There's a grocery store across the street and only a 5 min drive to downtown Tucson.
GRAND PRIZE $150 to AfterShokz
4 RUNNERS UP WIN $50 to Grub Stick