The best camping near
Nelson , ARIZONA

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Most Recent Nelson Camping Reviews
Secluded BLM Camping

We stayed here in January 2021 during our visit to Saguaro National Park due to previous good reviews. Classic BLM-style camping, meaning no amenities, dispersed, and pack out all waste.

This campground’s name is quite apt; it is indeed a cactus forest, and a beautiful one at that. However, watch where you step AND where you drive!!!! Some places are hairier than others, but we were very careful for our own safety and for the livelihood of the Saguaros, as young ones are quite tiny and need to be protected. We were traveling with our cat, and we usually let him walk around campsites with us, but decided it was not worth the risk at this campground. I would avise against dogs roaming here as well.

This is a great campground if you are just looking to get away for the weekend or want a quaint, quiet campground amongst incredible Saguaros. However, I personally prefer the BLM Pipeline campground to this one, as it’s more spread out, has less opportunity for cactus stepping, and has a much better proximity to Saguaro NP (especially the East park/Tucson Mountain Park).

The Quintessential BLM Campground

Date of Stay: 1/20/21 Vehicle: Subaru Crosstrek w/ tow-behind popup

I was a bit wary of this campground due to lack of reviews, but after an unsuccessful attempt to camp at another campground close to Saguaro NP East, we decided to give this site a go - and I’m SO glad we did. This is the perfect BLM campground - very dispersed, quiet, and FREE!

We arrived on a Wednesday afternoon with only about two other groups there. Directions from the Dyrt are perfectly accurate, but the turn is a bit tricky to see, as it is a narrow dirt road surrounded by brush. You can actually turn left or right when prompted by directions, but we went right and drove about ¾ of a mile down (you’ll see a sign addressed to campers so you’ll know you’re in the right place). Road is mostly very flat but does have the occasional bump/washout, and there is no shortage of rocks. Had no problem in my vehicle w/ trailer.

I honestly don’t know how many “campsites” are here, as they seem to be scattered pretty randomly around. There are little side roads that branch off the main road as well, we went down one of those and found a quaint little spot with camper-made fire pit that isn’t visible to the main road. Because of this, I would highly recommend arriving to this spot during the day, as we would have never found our great spot had it been dark.

As for the spot itself, it isn’t the prettiest because it’s mostly desert brush and dirt, but the Saguaros most definitely make up for it. Our specific campsite is marked by a towering, twenty-foot high Saguaro that I love waking up to every morning. There is little to no shade, but during the winter, the sun is very welcome. As for wildlife, we’ve seen several coyotes and roadrunners but not much else, at least during the day.

Location of this site is optimal - about five minutes from a local mart with all essentials, and ten from a Speedway and Dollar General. About 35 minutes from Saguaro West/Mountain Park and the same into central Tucson. Overall, I highly recommend this site for any avid BLM camper who is accustomed to no amenities. This may be my favorite BLM site I’ve ever camped.

Great for Car/Van Camping, but not Trailers

We tried to camp here on a Tuesday evening (01/19/21) and all of the spots were full, to our surprise. We brought our small tow-behind popup camper up the winding road until we reached the information pull-off, and decided to unhitch there and continue up the road in search of an empty spot with just our car (Subaru Crosstrek). The road is very bumpy, with lots of potholes and washouts. I would personally not suggest towing anything up this road, unless you’re an experienced tower perhaps with OHV tires/capabilities. This would be a lovely spot, had we been car camping. The foliage is beautiful and the view of Tucson is amazing, I’d love to come back here without a trailer. These spots, although they are more like small side-of-the-road pulloffs than campsites, are definitely better suited for conversion vans or truckbed campers, as every space we saw was very uneven and sandy.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CANCEL!!!

I booked a week stay at this resort. They charged my credit card the usual one night stay, until check in. NO NOT BOOK at this resort IF there is the slightest chance that you MAY HAVE TO CANCEL! Our dates were Jan.13-19. On the 10th, I called and spoke with Ashley, and informed her that we had to cancel does to an emergency. She informed me that she would cancel the reservation and REFUND me the one night charge….AND send me an email for my records. On the next day,the 11th, STILL within the 48 hour cancellation policy, I had received NO EMAIL. I called back and spoke with Diana, informed her about my call to Ashley the day before. Diana said she would cancel the charge and send e an email. NONE. On the 12th, I called THREE times and reached the answering service. I left messages. I called my credit card company, explained what was happening, and opened a FRAUD case. On the 13th, I saw that the Casa Grande Resort, CHARGED MY CREDIT CARD AGAIN on Jan. 12th! I called the credit card company, reported the second charge as FRAUD. I have contacted this resort THREE more times, and my call goes straight to voice mail. They DO NOT call you back as they state. I have RV'd all over America for years, and have NEVER had such a bBAD experience in cancelling a booking. DO NO STAY HERE, if there is any chance that you may have to cancel. Completely NON PROFESSIONAL STAFF at this place!

Group camp is tight, but nice

In general its a lovely state park with good provisions. Ended up in the group site, which appears not be an actual group site, as sites are individually reservable and functions as overflow camping. You are unfortunately….right on top of each other. We had maybe 8 ft between us and the camper van next to us. That said, other campers were quiet and respectful.

Lots of trails!

The campsite was totally packed, lots of kids but a good environment. There are camp supervisors that keep the camp in line. But my favorite part was all the trails!

Excellent for RVer's, ok for tents

I thought the sites were all decent sized. Almost the entire campground is set up for RV's but most of the sites don't have anyone behind them and are spacious, so tents would be fine in those spots if you don't mind an RV a site over. The couple tent spots they have are okay. All 5 of them are right off of the road so they have more noise traffic. I think our spot in B2 was the most private and away from the road. The restrooms are clean. There's also a nice dishwashing sink. The location is ideal for exploring the west side (Tucson Mountain District) of Saguaro National Park. The stars here were great and I love the sound of the coyotes in the night.

Cactus forest indeed

Really cool place tucked away felt like a cactus tunnel and you can't beat free. Cell service was spotty to non existent.

First to Review
Beautiful Saguaros!

Relatively easy access from main road for most any vehicle, just take it slow and watch for ruts, especially after a rain. 

There are many cool places to pull off and camp, but stay on established open spaces, we saw little baby things trying to grow all over the place so don’t squash them. We arrived on a Wednesday, and it was peaceful and quiet and serene until that Friday, when a group of guffawing dude-bros took up camp across the road from us. Voices carry here, especially this type of voice. The ranger drove down Pipeline Rd in a truck to check on things several times, something I always appreciate. 

You can hear road noise the closer you are to the main road (W Avra Valley Rd), especially trucks driving to and from the quarry, which can sound like thunder. Beautiful landscape, saguaros everywhere, beautiful sunrise and sunset, very peaceful despite the truck noise. If we had a rig that could make it in further we would have camped further away from the road to minimize the noise. Pretty regular traffic going in and out on Pipeline Rd, campers and ATVers. 

Free range cattle also in the area. 

Good verizon and AT&T service.

Eclectic!

If you have to stay in an RV park, this is the one to stay in. It is absolutely not your typical RV park that feels like a parking lot with rows of RVs all side by side. This is a combo of an old timey motel, vintage trailers that are rented out on air bnb, a cool hangout area and pool with music playing and they have movies on some nights on the big screen in the pool area, and a couple of FHU(30 amp only) RV spots(for$35/night) Also saw camper vans there too. It’s right off the road so there are road noises, as well as noise from neighboring businesses and trains. 

The owner Toni and her daughter have put so much time and energy into building this place, and their love of all things vintage shows. Toni will tell you the history of the trailers and busses on site, including a 1970’s rock n roll tour bus and a trailer that the Dead are said to have used for travel while on tour. Vintage electric car and a car called Wedge and looks as the name implies. There is one washer and one dryer available for use, as well as a bathtub/shower, kitchen, and a hangout room with TV, music, and a free table arcade game with multiple 80s video games to choose from.

The motel rooms are available for rent as well, though when we stayed there in our RV all the rooms were occupied by a film crew and the artist in residence. We asked about tent sites and the owner seemed willing to work with guests on that, though we didn’t see a good spot where tents would go.

There is also a chicken coop and a small garden! You may get lucky and get some fresh eggs in the morning.