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.
This place is huge! It is a KOA, but still very nice. It is a “resort” so it’s a little pricey, but we were just there for one night to visit Saguaro National Park. The sites are a little close together, but we were on the end, so we were not crowded. And, there was a grapefruit tree, with ripe fruit, next to our site. Orange and lemon trees were scattered around the park. There is a large dog play area that was nice for traveling canine companions. There is also a very good restaurant, BBQLIFE, right in the campground, that delivers!
This BLM property, right off the Ajo highway near Tucson, is extremely convenient for a short or extended stay. Anyone can stay up to 14 nights, free of charge. Greeted people here from all walks of life -- from those living out of the back of truck to brand new 45 foot motorhomes.
Like many high-impact BLM areas, the entrance roads are not well-maintained so some are quite rough. We arrived in the dark, which we do not recommend as it was difficult to see where the entrances were and how rough the roads were ahead of us. The parking/camping spaces are not designated, but heavy use has carved out lots of opportunities.
There are a few places to walk or ride throughout the property, which is actually quite small based on typical BLM property. However, the nearby areas of Saguaro National Park and Tucson Mountain Park, offer plenty of opportunities for both.
No facilities, no water or even a stream…so plan ahead!
The Cave Creek Canyon on the western edge of the Chiricahua Mountains is a spectacular area that will completely take you by surprise. This cute campground tucked into the trees will charm your socks off!
Each site has the standard picnic table, bear locker, fire ring and lots of shade. The bathroom is a vault toilet, kept clean by the volunteer camp host, staying at Sandy Flat. This campground is rather small with just a couple small RV sites and lots of shade. Perfect for tent camping though. Great for warmer months, not so great for solar charging due to the shade, so we moved up the road to Sunny Flat campground. There are two small cabins available for rent near the forest visitor’s center, check with the Coronado National Forest, Douglas District office.
The area is a birder’s paradise and at certain times of year can get very busy. Great opportunities for hiking, biking and wildlife viewing throughout the entire mountain range. All the campgrounds are first-come, first-served.
There's not much in the area for food and gas, so come prepared. There is one small grill/basic grocery store down the mountain, but if you are looking for real groceries, shop before you come.
We came for just a night to see if it was open and spent 3 glorious nights here! The volunteer camphost, Jan, is fantastic! She single-handedly kept this campground open during the government shutdown…and hosted a Christmas potluck brunch at her site.
The Cave Creek Canyon on the western edge of the Chiricahua Mountains is a spectacular area that will completely take you by surprise. And the campground tucked into a wide-open clearing set in a spectacular valley ringed by stunning granite cliffs will also charm your socks off!
Each site has the standard picnic table, bear locker, fire ring, and lots of shade. Campsites which aren’t under the trees have a nice shelter over the table. The bathroom is a vault toilet, kept clean by the volunteer camp host. All the campgrounds are first-come, first-served.
This campground might be better for small RV’s than some of the others in the area because of the size of the sites, though anything bigger than 25 feet might have a tough time getting backed in. The area has some nice sunny spots for those like us who run on solar. There are also two small bunkhouses available for rent near the forest visitor’s center, check with the Coronado National Forest, Douglas District office.
The area is a birder’s paradise and at certain times of year can get very busy. Great opportunities for hiking, biking and wildlife viewing throughout the entire mountain range.
There's not much in the area for food and gas, so come prepared. There is one small grill/basic grocery store down the mountain, but if you are looking for real groceries, shop before you come.
We were here for three months as I was on assignment at the hospital. We had a lot of fun. The staff was friendly and accommodating, the facilities were well kept and clean, and the park brought people in to keep us entertained. The spaces were a little tight for larger rigs, we were in a 36 foot pulled by an F350 quad cab long bed and had room.
Spent the night close to home as my dog had never been camping and I wanted to see if he liked it (he does!).
Booked online about two weeks prior for a Monday night stay and most of the campground was available. When I arrived about 75-80% was full, so good idea to book ahead.
Some of the sites are super close together, especially on the newer loops (sites 75-104 and 106-134). They'd be ok with a trailer, but I'd feel cramped in with my tent. The main part of the campground where I was is a bit more spread out, with vegetation between most of the sites.
My site had a big pad for the tent that was raked, a picnic table, a fire ring/grill, easy access to the hiking trails, and a great view of the mountains.
Beware during the winter as the wind can come up during the night and morning hours, so stake your tent down well. It got up to maybe 15 mph, so not super strong, but typical for the edges of the valley.
Staff was friendly, and the bathroom was clean. I didn't use the shower.
One specific note about my site 36: don't book it if you'll be taking a 5th wheel or really any trailer. The access road is narrow and the parking spot is at a 90° angle so it'd be very difficult to back into. Better to pick one of the pull thru spots. If you have a campervan or are tent camping then it's a great spot.
I'm glad I came here. Can't wait to come back! This would be an epic place during a full moon, or really anytime it's clear to see the stars. Too bad it was cloudy my entire stay.
Really close campsite to the Grand Canyon. Nice clean restrooms. We went in November so it was cold(low 10’s and only up to mid 20’s during day! So be prepared. Sites had table and fire pit. And easy access roads to sides
We stayed here in early summer and were so comfortable in both an RV site and cabin. Wonderful. Staff great and the solar structures above most RV sites were great at keeping us cooler and happier! Best cabins we’ve seen in KOA Places. Nicest pool in a Koa. Super hot tubs and picklevall court. Wow. We’ll be back!
Campground Review: Ill start off by mentioning that this is a backcountry site in the desert and will require some serious hiking to get to. Plan ahead before camping here since you will need to bring in all your water and temperatures fluctuate widely depending on the time of year. Ok now on to why I loved this site!
The Fremont Saddle is located about 2.5 miles in on the Peralta trail and follows a pretty moderate to challenging climb up the mountain. Right at the campground you can see an incredible view of several of the nearby peaks and explore further onto several other branching trails. The campground itself is not well defined since this is a dispersed site though there is a single campfire ring that someone built right off the trail. (I believe fires are discouraged here however) The park rule for camping is that you can set up your tent anywhere that is off the trail (there is a distance specified at the trailhead). Check out my photos of the trailhead signs for more info.
There aren’t any water sources available so make sure to pack in whatever you will need and consider that it can get very dry during the day so you will be drinking a lot. Give yourself enough time at the campground so that you can set up and explore the area since it is incredibly beautiful. One of my favorite things about this site is that you can get 360 views at different points so you could have an amazing sunrise and sunset.
Overall, this is by far the best site I came across while hiking the Peralta Trail and is well worth the challenging trek to get here. Just remember to be prepared and give yourself plenty of time.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to try out new and interesting products at campgrounds I visit. On this trip, I tried out the AfterShokz Trekz Air bone conduction headphones. My takeaways from using the open ear headphones are:
- Hear the world: One of the things that really got me excited about these headphones right off the bat was the ability to her what is going on around you while listening to your music. My wife and I are constantly out doing physical activity including runnings biking, hiking, climbing, and kayaking. For many of these activities hearing your surroundings can be a vital factor and can limit the ability to listen to music. These headphones are game changers and perform incredibly in this role. It often sounds like your music is playing on a speaker while wearing them and it was a shock the first time I tried them out. While wearing the Trekz Airs I was able to have a conversation with my brother hiking next to me and could easily tell when another hiker wanted to pass.
- Comfort: since these heaphones sit on the bones in front of your ear canal you would expect them to put pressure on your head and be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. However, I found than to be even less noticable on my head than my in ear headphones which bother me after an hour or so. They have nice pads which allow them to rest comfortably and the design is amazing how they lightly rest on your ears without squeezing your head.
- Sound quality: A major concern with using bone conduction is that the quality, depth, and volume will be unacceptable. I tested this out on the Airs by playing a variety of different music styles in different environments and while completing different activities. Overall, I was able to achieve rich, quality sound consistently. The one challenge I found was in noisy environments where I wasn't moving and getting the volume up meant feeling the vibrations. However, this is not what they were engineered far and when the volume is up while running I am unable to feel the vibration. Also, they stay in place when you move around so the sound stays consistent throughout your listening.
Overall, I would say these headphones are well worth the value and an amazing addition not only to your camping gear but also perfect for any other high intensity activities. They have a long lasting charge, great sound, and are comfortable to wear for hours on end. I liked the headphones after trying them out that I ended up buying a second pair for my wife. I can’t recommend these headphones enough.
Alaskan RV Park is conveniently located off of I-10 at Exit 366 near Bowie. The park features affordable RV sites at $20/night. The sites are all spacious pull-throughs. There is a dump station on site($10), and water refill available (based on tank size, but not more than $20). The park is handicap accessible and pet friendly. No breed restrictions. Tenting is also available. There are showers and laundry available. Alaskan RV Park is Bowie's best kept secret as it was the site of the Sideman Jamboree each year and featured music from country stars. The park hopes to bring music back to the stage in the future.
The Peralta Canyon Campground is located in the Superstition Mountains and includes a 5.1 miles out and back hike to Fremont Saddle on the Peralta Trail. From Fremont Saddle you get an amazing view of Weaver's Needle (see photos) and the surrounding valley. The hike up to Fremont Saddle was nearly all up hill and of moderate difficulty. You are allowed to set up camp at various points away from the trail, but if you are willing to wait to get to the top before setting up, it is definitely worth it. There is way more space to make camp and get comfortable. Also the views are much more stunning and then sleeping right off the trail.
It is important to note that there are no water sources, but definitely always will be a heat source… (there is a dried up riverbed which may flow during the rainy season?). The trailhead was very easy to find with our GPS and there is a large parking lot at the beginning with plenty of spaces. Because of the dry climate, you are not allowed to make open fires when camping in this area. There is an alternative route back down the mountain called the Cave Trail (which we did not take) which apparently is very neat, but should be done with people who know the area because that trail is not well marked or obvious.
The landscape and whole area was very beautiful (especially to someone not from the area like me) and I would definitely recommend others check out Peralta!
I was not been happy with the prior pair of hiking boots that I own and I was excited to try something new with the Magna Trail boot. If you have not hiked in shoes that try to emulate walking barefoot (which I hadn't), these definitely will take some time to get used to. At first I felt like I was feeling every rock I stepped on in the heel of my foot. It wasn't painful, but was something I was hyperfocusing on. However, after about an hour of hiking in them, I quickly forgot about that and the bumpy ground and rocks no longer bothered me at all. I also imagine this being even less of an issue if I were hiking in a flatter, less rocky environment like the forest.
One thing I particularly enjoyed about the shoe was how lightweight and breathable they are. The boots didn't weigh me down at all while still offering most of the support of a heavy, sturdy hiking boot. They also allowed my feet to breathe and not get super sweaty. There is a neoprene sleeve that tightens around your ankle which served me two purposes: 1) it provided extra support to my ankle and 2) it kept out annoying rocks and dust from sneaking into my shoes. While I felt sturdy enough, if you are someone who struggles with balance, these may not be perfect for you.
Lastly, a major advantage of all Vivo shoes is how they fold up and can be packed when space is tight. Each of their models bends and and can be folded without harming the shoe at all. I found this very useful on this past trip. See the pictures to see what I mean! Also important to note how stylish and attractive each of the models of shoes Vivo Barefoot offers!
Pros to Magna Trail:
-Weight. Super lightweight and breathable shoe that still offers enough support when hiking
-Size. The ability to fold up and pack in tight spaces is a huge advantage compared most other hiking boots which usually take up a quarter of your bag.
-Comfort. While there is a learning curve, once you get used to the shoe, the feeling of walking barefoot feels more natural
Aesthetics. They sexy af for a hiking shoe.
Cons of the Magna Trail-:
-Comfort. If you not used to walking barefoot or do the majority of your walks in a rocky environment this MAY be an issue. '
-Support. If you are someone who struggles with balance and usually uses a high ankle, heavier boot, these may not be for you.
Overall, I really like the Magna Trail shoes and am excited to hike more in the future with them. They are light, comfortable and stylish to boot! (Get it?!?!) Would definitely recommend!
Be sure to stop at any of the kiosks and get a public use regulation brochure and map. Groups using the refuge will need a free Special Use Permit (SUP). Call for more information (928) 783-7861. Camping is limited to 14 days in any calendar year, no long term. If you want a fire bring wood, it is scares. Wilderness and leave no trace practices are required. Pack-it-in, pack-it-out.
The refuge is more restrictive than the surrounding BLM lands.
This site is not operated by BLM. It is within the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS). Call them at (928) 783-7861. It is dispersed so first come first serve. Road from Hwy 95 is rough and not recommended for small cars. 14 day stay within the calendar year. No long term and no facilities. Oct. thur March is best time. The area is the only location to collect anything on Kofa. No tools allowed, hands only. 10 specimens or ten pounds which ever comes first is the collection limit per calendar year. Get a brochure at the kiosk when you enter the Kofa, it has the public use regulations and a map.
Only keep your limit and pictures and memories. Wilderness values and leave no trace practices are best way to be.
Dispersed Camping was wonderful here. Permits are available at the visitor center. We walked down into the wilderness area behind the painted desert Inn. Beautiful views, an easy hike out, and no one else around
A large campground in the middle of the park. Pine loop is generator free so it was quieter than the rest. There are no quick walks to the rim from the camp but there is a bus system that can take you there. November was a quieter time but still fairly busy.
Give yourself time to explore and enjoy the surroundings.
To get to the campground you must first go through the Saguaro National Park and the drive is just as fun as it is beautiful.
I suggest viewing the aerial map of campsites before hand. I had selected about 9 different sites before arriving and that was good because I ended up at my #6 choice. Which was still a great site.
Very quite and peaceful. However, it's the desert so you should bring an air mattress or cot. Most sites have tables and are close to water and restrooms. The restrooms were very clean and upkeep. Heads up there are no showers at this campground.
I felt very safe there and actually left my campsite unattended for about 10-12 hours and not a thing was out of place.
Tents are $10 a night and RVs are $20. Tents can camp in any RV space but you can't the use power at the campsites (30 amp). You can charge small devices using the power outlets in the restrooms. Also Verizon cell/data service was great out here.
I can't wait to go back next year.
Secluded and very private. Large enough for your every need. Two nearest towns are 15-20 miles away. Sierra Vista has anything anyone would want and Tombstone is a tourist haven. Recommend this site to anyone that wishes to avoid large crowds and loves open skies and spaces.
Checked in to this quiet well kept KOA for very reasonable price with barely anyone in the park for one overnighter. There was a game room, store and DVD rental library. Very surprised to see pool/jacuzzi were clean & warm for nice soak (nice after a long haul in November) Talked to quite a few Alaskans that were passing through morning after at the clubhouse coffee social which was very pleasant while waiting for laundry! Daughter said shower was nice and hot. Not much more you could ask for.
Turn off Hwy 74 between Apache Junction and Florence, Turn East on Cottonwood Canyon Rd. and there is dispersed camping with ZERO amenities starting in about 2 thru 5 miles on both sides of the road.
This is a very popular off road spot for Motocross motorcycles, Jeeps, ATV's, and Side by Sides so be prepared for some dust and some noise from vehicles. There are lots of trails to ride.
This is Arizona State Trust Land so a permit is required but can be purchased and downloaded from their website at a cost of $21.00 and it is valid for 1 year for the family pass.
The location was clean and well cared for buy the people that camp there, and there are rock rings for fires but you will need to bring your own wood to burn as there is little in the desert and nowhere close to purchase any.
We stayed with a group in November and the weather and the sunrise and the sunsets were absolutely amazing to behold. We will definitely be back both for the wide open spaces and the great places to ride.
Campgrounds have clean bathrooms with showers. Most spaces are not too close to your neighbors. If you reserve early enough (up to 6 months in advance) you can get some very premium sites. I recommend the “Ruddy Duck” or “Red Head” loop sites. Kayaks are also available for rent. Most sites are full hookups
At Rose Canyon Lake. Lots of spots. Though the campground was very nearly full, it was quiet. Has several loops separated by shallow ravines. Pit toilets. Very clean and well-cared-for. Friendly, helpful camp hosts.
It was almost deserted when we camped there in October but in the winter months you really need a reservation.
As a KOA this one is at the bottom of my list. I don’t mind the trains, kind of nice to see them. I do however mind that they don’t offer a cable hookup of any kind. Especially in a location that has zero channels to pick up using my antenna. It’s 2018, how hard is it install a satellite and offer the campers something to hook up to.
This place has great reviews and sounds wonderful, but in person it was not what we expected. The roads on the property are full of potholes. There are overhanging branches in most spots that can damage your awning. The layout is disorganized and you may or may not get a nice spot. The bathrooms are very smelly, they smell like vault toilets even though they flush. The grounds are not maintained well. This place must have been gorgeous at one time but it needs a good clean up. This might be a good place if you are a) in a tent or pop up b) right on the creek c) have very young kids who would enjoy the creek. For older kids and adults who want a pleasant experience in nature, this is not the place. It's also a long drive from Sedona and not much to offer in the nearby town.
Great campground with the Homestead trail running through it. You can hike or bike all day or kayak on Lynx Lake. The sites are varying sizes so read the description and look on the map if you're bringing an RV. Bring your own shade as many spots get full fun. This campground is close to town and a great spot for families.