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.
The #1 Camping App
Search 500,000 listings, reviews & tips from anywhere in the US. Our free app is the top-rated camping app on Apple and Android.
We were here for a local event so we were able to do some nearby hiking and drinking at the incredible local Olive Mill across the road.
You can rent airstreams, campers, cabins, and all the glorious camping alternatives. It is a bit pricey but if you are looking for an alternative to tent camping (which you can't really find in Phoenix, this works great!)
Many of the campers come with FULL amenities..including netflix. You can usually fit up to 5 people in the campers so it's not that bad if you are breaking it down by the group for an event. They are retro fitted with fun decor and comfy accommodations. Many come with showers or tubs installed in the trailers too.
This is an AMAZING and easy stopover on the way from Colorado to California. It is within an hour of Hurricane and a little over an hour from Vegas.
It is a perfect water stop on hot days. The camping is only $8 per site. They are open to the elements but on a long drive it is a welcomed sidetrack to be on.
There are semi clean bathrooms, trash, covered picnic tables and water access. It is off the main highway so there is a tiny bit of noise but the landscape more than makes up for it with it's red beauty and lovely water fun! I haven't seen a ranger here in the 4 times i've stayed but the self pay station is self explanatory.
Update: The recreation area is closed for right now due to construction but will reopen soon.
Millions of years ago, volcanic activity in the Southwest create lava rocks and fire agate. Inside the Rockhound area you can walk and collect fire agates right off the surface of the ground. It is the desert equivalent of searching for sea shells at the beach. It makes a fun day trip for families and rock enthusiasts. If rocks aren’t your thing, bring an ATV, 4x4, or dirt bike and enjoy miles of trails and dirt roads.
The Rockhound area can be accessed from the Black Hills Scenic Byway or the main access road. We had no issues finding it using Google Maps. We did take a 4x4 on this trip, but it isn’t necessary. Any vehicle that can handle a few miles of primitive/gravel road should be fine.
If you’re adventurous enough, spend the night in one of the dispersed camping sites. Just be prepared. There are no facilities or water available. The site only has a sign, a log book and a small trash can. The area is very rocky and I don’t recommend tent camping, but it would be feasible with some raking. There were 3 other groups camping while we were there and they were all sleeping in some type of camping vehicle. There aren’t any trees, so we experienced lots of high wind gusts. As a precaution, We took our awning down in the middle of the night, but our roof top tent was fine. Although this area is remote, you can see the lights from Safford,AZ at night. We didn’t have a fire, but they are permitted (as long as there isn’t a fire ban in effect). Some of the sites had camper-made fire rings/pits dug into the ground and surrounded by rocks.
We camped here when we had a permit to fish at nearby Christmas Tree Lake. Christmas Tree Lake is a beautiful little lake nestled in the White Mountains of Arizona on Apache land. It boasts some amazing fishing for the native trout species- the Apache trout. The fish are stocked, so it may not be a true experience for some but most of the access to the native fish in their native habitat is restricted or non existent to protect these beautiful creatures. The lake offers paid access on a day to day basis. A total of 25 permits per day are offered to keep fishing pressure in check. But these permits are non refundable so don't reserve too early.
Permits and information can be found on the website but customer service can be difficult. Camping is available on a first come basis at Hawley Lake which also offers great fishing and beautiful scenery. Be aware that I did experience some free range cattle snooping through the camp at 2am which was a bit unexpected. Also, being in the mountains, it was pretty cold at night.
The area we camped in was open and the roads were well marked. Campsites were situated near fire rings with only the occasional picnic table. There were four pretty well maintained portable toilets near our camp as well. Be sure to review the rules and regulations on the website as some areas are off limits and to make sure you have all the proper permits for fishing and/or camping.(State and local licenses required for fishing)
Hiking Through Saguaro National Park in the late Winter is now my favorite past time. You get the feel of Spring but the look of Summer. Between the higher elevation changes in scenery and the lack of people on trails, this is one of the best spots to hit up if you want to get away but don't have the ability to handle super cold weather.
Douglas Spring is a little over 6 miles from the trailhead and it is super popular usually so reserve your backcountry permit fast! You can have up to 6 people on your permit and there are three sites available at the top. It's only $8 per campsite in the park but there is NO vehicle access, so you will need to hike into any camping you need and ONLY camp in designated areas.
Bring lots of water, there isn't much water available near you, contrary to the name. The trial is also pretty open and not much shade, so early Spring and Fall are your best bets.
This trail is pretty heavily populated by horse riders so wear shoes that you don't mind sidestepping manure in.
This dispersed camping area was incredibly hard to find. I ended up at Pipe Springs National Monument and got specific directions from the ranger there. Here are his words, "5 miles East of Pipe Spring National monument on 389, Torowepe rd. goes south. It's a dirt road. Check the road and count the cattle guards. You can't camp between the 2nd and 3rd cattle guard because it is state trust land but between the 3rd and 4th cattle guard is BLM. Right after the 3rd cattle guard is a fence and there is a large open area to the right. You will need to get off the main road and gets quieter the farther you get off the road."
There is cell phone service but it is spotty. It is a washboard dirt road but passable most of the year.
Once we got out there we didn't see anyone, which was lovely. The main reason for the low rating is the difficulty of finding it. The ground was also very rocky and not many places to park a large RV, just car camping or small campers.
There were also a lot of cars driving down that road and a lot of off roading that happens out there so be prepared to hear motors.
It is really close to Pipe Spring national Monument and Navajo Monument if you want to take some afternoon trips to visit the monuments.
We waited too long to plan our Grand Canyon North Rim trip so this place was the only option for full hooks up on the North Rim. It’s a good back up option If the National Park sites are all booked. The North Rim only receives about 10% of the overall visitors to the GCNP, so its way less crowded and worth the trip. If you’re looking to ride your dirt bike/ATV, this might be the perfect site. We didn’t bring ours, but we wished he had since there are trails near by the site.
On the drive into the park you can see deer (lots at twilight) and bison.
Pros: lots of trees, toilets, sinks and fire pits. Market onsite with essentials. Access to off road trails for ATVs/dirt bikes.
Cons: The sites are very small and cramped. 45 minute drive to the rim. “Jacob Lake” is a pond- set your expectations accordingly. You have to pay for showers.
The sites are first come, first served but we didn’t have any issues finding a spot during the winter. Our site had plenty of space for 2 vehicles, 1x 3-person tent and 3x 1-person tents. The sites are well shaded with trees and each site has a fire pit and bear box.
Lots of hiking trails available. Since it’s a wilderness area, they are all pet friendly. It is the perfect getaway from Tucson.
The Ranger and camp host we meet were super friendly!
My husband, myself and our 2 small dogs live in Tucson, AZ. We recently acquired a roof top tent and we’ve been trying out various campgrounds across the Southwest.
This is still one of our favorite National Parks to stay at. The sites were “pull though” so it’s perfect for our Roof Top Tent set up. Plenty of trees and hiking opportunities. Honestly, it’s worth the trip just to see the coatimundis. They are ADORABLE!
Pros: Coatis! Scenery. Easy to access. Water. Bear boxes.
Cons: As typical in National Parks, the majority of hiking trails are not dog friendly. No showers. no fire pits, just BBQ that can be used for cooking with fire.