Many places feel like they are in the middle of nowhere; this one actually is. A 24 mile drive from Stafford AZ, along a bumpy asphalt road brings you to some lovely desert camping with miles of OHV trails and 2 hot thermal pools for soaking. For just $3/day you can camp, soak, or ride in this beautiful desert oasis.
There are only around 14 designated sites, but there are many other tucked away spots where you are welcome to set up camp. Just be careful to stay out of the soft sand, or off the popular OHV trails. We set up just just off the dirt camp road, with a short walk to the pools, and pit toilets, and woke each morning to Gambel Quail and Mourning Doves. We happened to visit during the 2019 spring “super bloom” and desert wildflowers were everywhere. The sand outside outside our trailer revealed that a bobcat had sniffed us out. The desert and the surrounding area is full of life, you just have to look for it.
Come prepared to dry camp as there is no other water source than the thermal pools, but the pit toilets were very clean and well stocked by the friendly camp host. The pools fill each morning once sunlight hits the solar panels which power the pumps. By sunset the pools will begin to drain, so everyday there is a new supply of freshwater in the tubs.
Trail activity was pretty loud and busy during the weekend, but as the workweek began things died down and all was quiet. We cycled on the road rather than the OHV trails because we didn’t bring orange safety flags, or really want to compete with motorized trail traffic. There are endless desert hiking opportunities just outside the OHV area.
Note: Cell service was spotty in the campground, but we were able to make a phone call, but no data.
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.
Riggs Flat Campground is located in the Pinaleño Mountains 40 miles southwest of Safford, AZ. The lake is not all that big, a bit under whelming to be honest after such a great drive, although if your lucky you may be able to catch some trout and bass for dinner (you'll need a valid Arizona fishing license and trout stamp). I don't believe many people come to the lake to specifically "camp", what this location offers is a scenic drive and a base camp for much better nearby activities such as hiking, mountain biking, birding, caving and swimming.
There are no services or first Aid, the nearest would have to be Mt. Graham Community Hospital in Safford, 42 miles away. RV Camping is 22 feet and less. Boats permitted on the lake may be powered by no more than a single electric trolling motor. RV’s up to 22' and vehicles with trailers less than 21' are recommended. Longer vehicles have difficulty negotiating the switchbacks on the road up the mountain (AZ 366). Pack and saddle stock are not permitted in campground. Limit 2 vehicles and 10 persons per site. 14 day stay limit.
The drive up starts out paved and well maintained, but half way turns to a semi-maintained dirt road. You'll climb from 3200 feet to 9000 in a matter of miles, Mt. Graham is known for is amazing diversity from the surrounding desert. You'll climb through many different Biospheres and witness wildlife change from Lizards, Snakes, and desert dwellers to Deer, Endanged Red tree squirrels, and black bear. There are many other camp grounds on the way but if they are all full then this is your… 15th or so choice!
If your a hiker you can find traces of the Anasazi Indians that once inhabited this area.
Keep in mind the cabins you will pass on the way up are PRIVATELY OWNED, and are not for rent.
Within a 30 mins drive from the nearest town, you can leave 112 degree heat, cactus, and sand to find yourself surrounded by large pine, long mountain hikes & 30 degree difference in temperature!
Surrounded by large pine, a cool breeze and a cornucopia of wildlife! Although fire restrictions are always a concern Arcadia campground is the blessing all desert dwellers need!
Fire rings, BBQ, & bathrooms are available at camp sights. There is a $10 day pass or $10 nightly pass required to stay.
Info from the USDA:
When early settlers ventured up Mount Graham, the Arcadia area was usually as far as they got on the first day. A little later in the history of the Pinaleños, Arcadia was the site of one of several Civilian Conservation Corps camps established in the 1930s to provide jobs for workers idled by the Great Depression. Today, Arcadia Campground is the first campground visitors encounter on their way up Mount Graham by way of the Swift Trail (AZ 366), which was built by those Depression-era workers. Arcadia Campground is shaded by stands of tall ponderosa pine interspersed with Gambel oaks and Arizona walnuts. Such a diverse habitat makes this an excellent area for bird watching. Watch for poison ivy.
RV’s up to 22' and vehicles with trailers less than 21' are recommended. Longer vehicles have difficulty negotiating the switchbacks on AZ 366. Pack and saddle stock are not permitted in campground. Limit 2 vehicles and 10 persons per site. 14 day stay limit.
Roper lake state park is a beautifully well kept state park. It's $20 a night for tent camping, $30 a night for full RV hookups. (which is kinda high for this area and amenities offered).
This is my local state park so I visit almost every weekend and kayak the lake. There is a lot of fishing, swimming, and hiking available. There are also some really nice cabins available to rent!
The camp sights are a small size but offer some privacy from other sites. There are fire rings in every site, as well as a Covered pick-nick tables!!!
They also offer some full hookup sites, as well as sewage dump and potable water.
There is a group sized hot tub available for public use that is filled with natural hot springs water as well as a swimming beach and day use area.
This spot is not easy to get to. You need the proper type of vehicle (off road with clearance). It is dry as a bone, but beautiful nonetheless. There are large trees and a perfect river. We saw a wolf, wild hogs, and signs of bears (droppings). If you want to connect with the wild, this is the place for you. As long as you know how to handle wildlife in a respectful way you will have nothing to worry about. The only drawback is that there is charred forest on either side of the campground. Though the campground itself is like a little oasis. Highly recommend visiting here. It gets VERY cold at night during early summer, so make sure to go prepared.
great visit. even though it was semi crowded and the sites are close together, people were quiet. way hot during the summer, but you can swim in the lake. fair warning: dogs are not allowed on the swimming beach, which was kind of a bummer. campground though has been great!
We love Roper Lake. Great sites with full hook ups, no sewer. Group camping and tent camping available. Hot springs hot tub. Great hiking. Very busy in the winter months and during holidays. Early reservations required.
The campground host does everything within his power to make your stay enjoyable. The weather is cooler than Tucson and the views are amazing. My favorite place to camp.
I took the family out here (including the dog), a few months ago. We pushed out there and discovered a lovely little campground in the pines. The site we chose had a fire pit and a picnic table, which was great for us. We had the run of the place.
There was a pit toilet set up, even though the kids didn't want to use it. A series of trails pushing up into the ridge line gets you up to a clearing where lightning has given you a view of the surrounding area. You might be lucky to see deer in the area if you sit still. There are a number of manzanita bushes that were ripe when we popped up there.
Campsite is clean with bathrooms. Easily accessible by 2wd vehicle. Benches and fire pits at each site. Close to willow creek where fishing for gila trout is possible. Creek is a bit shallow and damaged due to erosion and recent flooding however gila trout can be found in larger pools around.
Beautiful site, great lake views, Vista view within walking distance of campsites. Outstanding experience overall.
This State Park is very well cared for and a pleasure to stay in. It has three campgrounds, with sites for tents and RV's, as well as eight camping cabins for rent. The lake has fishing, swimming, and is perfect for kayaks and SUP's … no gas powered motors allowed. The restrooms are nice and clean, with showers. There is also a dump station for RV's to use. There are several miles of walking paths - the wildlife and bird-watching is good. There is also a charming spring-fed natural stone hot tub!
Great camping experience! We were pleased with our camping experience. Good amenities. A couple camping areas/campgrounds to choose from within the park. Camping is designed for Rv's it seems but tent camping is easy to do as well. We had a small 'pavilion' type structure at our site over the picnic table which was a nice feature. Camping cabins were also a nice feature of the park we may utilize on our next trip :) We heard about people having issues with excessive partying/noise, but we were there during the week and didn't have an issue with this. Hot Springs were a nice attraction of the park as well.