Top Tent Camping near Saguaro National Park

Searching for the perfect place to pitch your tent near Saguaro National Park? The Dyrt can help you find the best tent campsites for your next trip. Each tent site offers quick access to one or more of Saguaro National Park, Arizona's most popular destinations.

Best Tent Sites Near Saguaro National Park, AZ (20)

    Camper-submitted photo from Happy Valley Saddle Campground — Saguaro National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Happy Valley Saddle Campground — Saguaro National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Happy Valley Saddle Campground — Saguaro National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Happy Valley Saddle Campground — Saguaro National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Happy Valley Saddle Campground — Saguaro National Park

    1.

    Happy Valley Saddle Campground — Saguaro National Park

    4 Reviews
    5 Photos
    85 Saves
    Saguaro National Park, Arizona

    The story of Saguaro National Park dates back much farther than its establishment in 1994. Prior to this, the area was designated a national monument in 1933 as a way to preserve the unique Sonoran Desert landscapes of the Tucson and Rincon mountain districts. This saved the area from the ranchers and miners who settled in the area in the 1880s. These followed the Spanish explorers who established a military fort in Tucson in the 1770s, nearly a century after founding a mission in the ares in the 1690s. Petroglyphs and potshards indicate that the Hohokam peoples inhabited the area for more than a millennium prior to the Spanish. Travel back even farther, and there’s a complex geologic history of exactly how the landscape came into being—and why it’s worth preserving.

    Camping in Saguaro is like entering a time machine. With no campgrounds in the park accessible by vehicle, the only way to camp is to hike in to any of the six designated campgrounds. The trails to get to the campgrounds typically start from developed roads and trailheads, but venture deep into the Sonoran backcountry, where only the rocks, plants, and animals tell the story of a landscape that’s changed little—with the exception of who’s occupied it—for the past several thousand years. One of the more popular campsites for those looking to bag 8,482-foot Rincon Peak, is the Happy Valley Saddle, which lies in a grove of scrubby pine and juniper forest, about halfway along the hike to the peak.

    This small campsite is located on the east end of the Rincon Mountain District. The campsite is accessible via a 3.9-mile trail that climbs 2,000 feet from the Miller Creek Trailhead. The road to this trailhead is not maintained, so may not be passable by passenger vehicles, or following inclement weather. The site offers three spaces for pitching tents. The water supply at nearby Miller Creek is seasonal at best, so visitors should plan accordingly. There are no facilities here, so hikers should exercise Leave No Trace and pack-it-in-pack-it-out practices. Camping in the Saguaro Wilderness backcountry requires a park-issued wilderness permit, which can be acquired in person at the park visitor center, or by submitting an application in advance.

    • Fires
    • Reservable
    • Tents
    • Group
    • Standard (Tent/RV)
    • Firewood Available

    $8 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from General Hitchcock Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from General Hitchcock Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from General Hitchcock Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from General Hitchcock Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from General Hitchcock Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from General Hitchcock Campground

    2.

    General Hitchcock Campground

    5 Reviews
    16 Photos
    101 Saves
    Willow Canyon, Arizona

    This small, sheltered campground is tucked away just off the Catalina Highway, along the rocky streambed that forms the floor of upper Bear Canyon. Campsites are nestled under a canopy of ponderosa pines, junipers and oaks. Some sites are located right along Bear Creek among large rocks. The Creek generally only flows during rainy periods or during the Spring snowmelt, but be vigilant of flash floods.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • ADA Access
    • Tents
    • Group
    • Cabins

    $10 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Manning Camp — Saguaro National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Manning Camp — Saguaro National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Manning Camp — Saguaro National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Manning Camp — Saguaro National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Manning Camp — Saguaro National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Manning Camp — Saguaro National Park

    3.

    Manning Camp — Saguaro National Park

    2 Reviews
    6 Photos
    17 Saves
    Saguaro National Park, Arizona

    In 1884, Levi Manning emigrated from Mississippi to Tucson, Arizona, and after some years established L.H. Manning and Company. He later expanded his business interests with ranching and acquired a 160-acre homestead in the Rincon Mountains. There, at an elevation of 8,000 feet, amid pine forest near a perennial spring, he selected a site for what would become his family’s summer home. Manning hired local workers to build an 11-mile wagon road to the site, which was used to transport the tools and materials used to construct his remote, five-room retreat. However, Manning would only enjoy his mountain getaway for a couple summers before his homestead was absorbed into the newly-formed Coronado National Forest in 1907.

    For the next half-century, the Manning Cabin was used mostly by Forest Service fire and trail crews. During this time, it went through various states of disrepair and reconstruction. From the late 1950s until the late 1970s, the cabin was largely abandoned until it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. One again restored and back in operation, the Manning Cabin serves as a base for area research and backcountry rangers. The cabin is not open to the public, but visitors can hike to the cabin and pitch their tents in the nearby Manning Camp. This small campground has six tent sites that can accommodate up to six people each. Camping here requires obtaining a Saguaro National Park backcountry permit, which can be acquired at a park visitor center, or by mailing in a request form in advance.

    There are several hiking trails that can be used to get to Manning Camp. All are long, and all are difficult. The trail from Happy Valley is 9.8 miles (one-way), and gains a total of 4,700 feet of elevation. This trail starts at the Miller Creek trailhead, near the eastern border of the park, and requires driving an unmaintained forest road; 4WD and/or a high-clearance vehicle are recommended. From the Loma Alta trailhead, in the southwest corner of the Rincon Mountain Unit, the route is 13.5 miles (one-way), and gains more than 5,700 feet of elevation. The trails to Manning Camp climb through a mix of desert scrub, oak woodlands and conifer forests. This area is home to black bears and mountain lions; store all food in the camp’s bear-proof lockers. Hikers should follow LNT guidelines, and treat all backcountry water sources.

    • Tents
    • Trash
    • Picnic Table
    • Drinking Water
    Camper-submitted photo from Gordon Hirabayashi Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Gordon Hirabayashi Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Gordon Hirabayashi Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Gordon Hirabayashi Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Gordon Hirabayashi Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Gordon Hirabayashi Campground

    4.

    Gordon Hirabayashi Campground

    3 Reviews
    9 Photos
    34 Saves
    Willow Canyon, Arizona

    The name Prison camp came from the Federal Honor Camp begun in 1937 to house federal prisoners supplying labor to build a road providing access into the Santa Catalina Mountains. Prisoners had been convicted of federal crimes ranging from immigration law violations to tax evasion to bank robbery. During World War II, many of the prisoners were conscientious objectors whose religions prohibited them from serving in the military. Some were Japanese Americans protesting the “Japanese American Relocation,” the largest forced removal and incarceration in U.S. History. After the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, over 100,000 Japanese Americans, many American Citizens, were imprisoned in crowded internment camps for fear they would conduct espionage and sabotage along the west coast. Gordon Hirabayashi was a senior at the University of Washington in 1942. He challenged the constitutionality of internment based on race or ancestry. He turned himself in to the FBI rather than report for relocation. He was convicted and sentenced to serve at the honor camp in the Santa Catalina Mountains. In 1987 Hirabayashi’s case was overturned. A federal commission determined that the internment had been motivated by racial prejudice and wartime hysteria. In 1988 the Civil Liberties Act was signed by President Ronald Reagan, which acknowledged the injustice and apologized for the internment. In 1999 the Coronado National Forest renamed the site in honor of Dr. Hirabayashi and the other resisters of conscience who were imprisoned there. Dr. Hirabayashi and others attended the dedication ceremony.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Tents
    • Trash
    • Picnic Table
    • Toilets
    Camper-submitted photo from Showers Point Group Site
    Camper-submitted photo from Showers Point Group Site
    Camper-submitted photo from Showers Point Group Site
    Camper-submitted photo from Showers Point Group Site
    Camper-submitted photo from Showers Point Group Site
    Camper-submitted photo from Showers Point Group Site

    5.

    Showers Point Group Site

    1 Review
    7 Photos
    11 Saves
    Willow Canyon, Arizona

    Overview

    The cool shade of tall ponderosa pines and an overlook of Palisade Canyon from the campgrounds edge make Showers Point Group Site a popular place for groups to spend a weekend or an afternoon. Visitors can relax in shaded campsites, picnic at nearby Rose Canyon, hike and mountain bike on nearby trails or take a scenic drive on Catalina Highway.

    Recreation

    Within easy walking distance from Showers Point is one of the most scenic overlooks in the Santa Catalinas. From this towering bluff visitors can see the lower slopes of the Santa Catalina Range and the Santa Cruz Valley stretching toward Mexico. Tall, pyramid-shaped Mt. Wrightson of the Santa Rita Mountains stands prominent on the horizon. Visitors enjoy hiking through the Santa Catalina backcountry, via the Palisade Trail that departs near the campground. The trail drops down the southwestern slopes of the mountain range to the popular Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. Fishing is also available at the nearby six-acre Rose Canyon Lake. A day-use fee is applicable at Rose Canyon

    Facilities

    Within easy walking distance from Showers Point is one of the most scenic overlooks in the Santa Catalinas. From this towering bluff visitors can see the lower slopes of the Santa Catalina Range and the Santa Cruz Valley stretching toward Mexico. Tall, pyramid-shaped Mt. Wrightson of the Santa Rita Mountains stands prominent on the horizon. Visitors enjoy hiking through the Santa Catalina backcountry, via the Palisade Trail that departs near the campground. The trail drops down the southwestern slopes of the mountain range to the popular Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. Fishing is also available at the nearby six-acre Rose Canyon Lake. A day-use fee is applicable at Rose Canyon

    Natural Features

    Showers Point Group Campground sits high on the slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains at 7,700 feet. Because of its elevation, it can be much cooler than the lower-elevation campgrounds in the area. The campsites are spacious and spread out among stands of big ponderosa pines and clusters of Gambel oak. The Coronado National Forest covers 1.78 million acres of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Elevations range from 3,000 to 10,720 feet in 12 widely scattered mountain ranges, or "sky islands," that rise dramatically from the desert floor, supporting biologically diverse plant communities.

    Nearby Attractions

    Catalina Highway, also known as General Hitchcock Highway and Sky Island Scenic Byway, is the only paved road that leads to the upper reaches of Mt. Lemmon and the Santa Catalina Range. It is one of the most scenic highways in the southwest and provides a popular day trip. Other notable attractions include Saguaro National Park, Sabino Canyon and Colossal Cave.

    contact_info

    For facility specific information, please call (520) 314-0069.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Tents
    • Group
    • Picnic Table
    • Drinking Water

    $95 - $103 / night

    • No image available

      6.

      Whitetail Group Site

      1 Review
      1 Save
      Willow Canyon, Arizona

      Whitetail Campground offers group campsites in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains of southeastern Arizona, 5 miles south of the town of Summerhaven and the top of Mt. Lemmon. Groups can enjoy picking, hiking, camping and wildlife watching while enjoying a cool respite from hot summer. The facility can accommodate groups for day or overnight use. Hosts live on site. This campground is designed for large groups such as church, corporation, family reunions, etc. Sites are often booked a year in advance through reserveamerica.gov. On occasion a site may not be booked and walk-ins are welcome, however, the cost of the site is the fee. Whitetail Group Campsites have large firepits, large grills, tables, ramadas and bear boxes. Each site has a clean, stocked restroom.Each site has a ramada with picnic tables, a 120 volt outlet to plug in a coffee pot, crockpot, etc.

      • Tents
      • Standard (Tent/RV)
      • Trash
      • Picnic Table
      • Firewood Available
      • Toilets
      • No image available
        • No image available

          8.

          Grass Shack — Saguaro National Park

          Be the first to review!
          Saguaro National Park, Arizona

          Grass Shack is a great campground that offers shade from large sycamores as well as other riparian species.

          • Tents
          • No image available

            9.

            Douglas Spring — Saguaro National Park

            Be the first to review!
            Saguaro National Park, Arizona

            The Douglas Spring Campground is located 6.05 miles from the Douglas Spring Trailhead in Saguaro National Park.

            • Tents
            Camper-submitted photo from Charouleau Gap Trailhead Camp
          Showing results 1-10 of 20 campgrounds

          Recent Tent Reviews In Saguaro National Park

          550 Reviews of 20 Saguaro National Park Campgrounds


            No Reviews Found



          Frequently Asked Questions

          Which is the most popular tent campsite near Saguaro National Park?

          According to TheDyrt.com, the most popular tent campground near Saguaro National Park is Happy Valley Saddle Campground — Saguaro National Park with a 4.8-star rating from 4 reviews.

          What is the best site to find tent camping near Saguaro National Park?

          TheDyrt.com has all 20 tent camping locations near Saguaro National Park, with real photos and reviews from campers.