View of a tent near a shoreline during sunset at one of the best places to go camping in Arizona

19 Best Places to Go Camping in Arizona (By a Local)

I’m an Arizona native who has spent countless weekends exploring the best places to go camping in Arizona. From the Grand Canyon to the Mexico border, my homeland offers campsites in an array of awe-inspiring landscapes. 

I narrowed down the 19 best Arizona campsites for you to explore, some of which you’ve never heard of. So pack the car and hit the road. It’s time to spend some time in the great outdoors!

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

19 Best Places to Go Camping in Arizona

Edge of the World (East Pocket), Sedona

Watch the sun set over Sedona from your tent

The author's brother taking a photo of the sunset in Coconino National Forest
My brother snapping sunset shots from the edge of our campsite in the Coconino National Forest

🗺️ Distance from Flagstaff: 1 hour 30 minutes | Google Maps | Reservations: first-come, first-serve

Edge of the World is one of my favorite places to go camping in Arizona. It’s located in the Coconino National Forest above Oak Creek Canyon between Sedona and Flagstaff. Both are some of the best places to go in Arizona. Slide Rock State Park is another notable nearby attraction.

This remote spot gives you the best of both worlds – you camp in the pine trees with views of the red rock desert landscape. I recommend setting up a hammock on the edge of the cliffside so you can gently sway in the trees while the electric sunset illuminates Sedona below you.

But note that the road to Edge of the World is rough. Expect to drive over an hour on dirt roads which can be quite treacherous, depending on the rainy season. If you have the right vehicle, though, you’ll have no issues getting there. Mark FR 231 in your GPS so you don’t miss the obscure turnoff after exiting Oak Creek Canyon.

🚙 Need a Vehicle? Check out Discover Cars to compare agencies and rates — and book a 4WD ride! 

Alstrom Point, Lake Powell

The most epic views of any Arizona campsite await

Scenic view of the sunrise in Alstrom Point
This was quite easily the best sunrise I have ever experienced in my life

🗺️ Distance from Page: 1 hour 30 minutes | Google Maps | Reservations: first-come, first-serve

Alstrom Point is the most dazzling campsite I have ever been lucky enough to visit. It’s a bit of a stretch because it’s technically located in Utah, but only about a mile north of the border. And it overlooks the section of Lake Powell in Arizona, so I am counting it as an Arizona campsite! 

It takes solid 4-wheel drive or a strong pair of legs to get here. No matter how you arrive at Alstrom Point, I promise it will be well worth the journey. The views of Lake Powell are unparalleled. 

You’ll likely have the spot to yourself since most people don’t know about it. I slept in a cot on the precipice of the site. Waking up to the sunrise felt like I’d died and gone to heaven. If you have the means for transportation, don’t miss this life-changing campsite.

🦂 Watch Out! Desert critters like scorpions and rattlesnakes are prevalent here during the warmer months. Inspect where you set up your tent!

White Pocket, Vermillion Cliffs

Explore incredible rock formations in an otherworldly landscape

The author's sister-in-law wandering in the scenic area of White Pocket
My sister-in-law exploring the swirling rocks of White Pocket

🗺️ Distance from Page: 2 hours 30 minutes | Google Maps | Website | Reservations: first-come, first-serve

White Pocket is the most out-of-this-world place to camp in Arizona. Located in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, it’s one square mile of incredible sandstone formations. If you’ve ever heard of The Wave, nearby White Pocket has a similar vibe, just with fewer tourists and no fees. Note that you need dependable 4-wheel drive to get here as the path includes several miles of deep-sand roads.

The campsite is just outside of the designated area that is considered White Pocket to further protect the fragile environment. However, it’s just a short walk to the magic. These rock formations are delicate, so be careful as you traverse the swirling domes and ridges. This northern Arizona destination is not well-known, so keep the secret between us.

📸 Attention Photographers: Visit during the Milky Way season (February through October) for the best night photography of your life.

Mount Bigelow, Mount Lemmon

Breathe in the mountain air on this beloved sky island

The author's friend beside their jumbo tent during their camping in Mount Bigelow
My friends and I all squeezed into the jumbo tent this trip

🗺️ Distance from Tucson: 1 hour | Google Maps | Reservations: first-come, first-serve 

Mount Bigelow is my favorite place to camp on Mount Lemmon, which is one of the best things to do in Tucson. While there are many designated campsites with convenient facilities on the mountain, this is the most scenic and private area. Plus, you don’t have to pay for a reservation anywhere along Mount Bigelow Road.

The mountain air is abundantly refreshing, and the greenery is a pleasant change from the desert scenery in Tucson. The only downside to this area is that you might show up ready to camp and not be able to find an open spot. 

There is a way around this, of course, if you make sure to drive up the mountain early before the rest of Tucson wakes up and does the same. It also helps to avoid weekends and holidays.   

🔥 Know Restrictions: Make sure you check when you can and can’t build fires on Mount Lemmon (enforcers are strict and fines are lofty).

Bonita Canyon Campground, Chiricahua National Monument

Take in epic wildlife and hike the most scenic trails in eastern Arizona

The glowing milky way over the Chiricahua National Monument
The Chiricahuas beneath the Milky Way

🗺️ Distance from Tucson: 2 hours | Google Maps | Website | Reservations: first-come, first-serve or online reservations | Amenities: fire pits, flush toilets, picnic tables, food storage boxes, tent pads, grills, pet-friendly

Immerse yourself in an extraordinary environment when you set up camp at Bonita Canyon Campground in the Chiricahua National Monument. This stunning destination is popular among Arizona visitors and natives alike, and it’s no secret why. 

Miles and miles of hoodoos – unique rock columns – make up the Chiricahua Mountains. The wildlife that accompanies these gorgeous rock formations puts the cherry on top of an A+ camping trip.

Bonita Canyon Campground is shaded by gorgeous oak and pine trees. The facilities are basic but make for a more authentic experience compared to fancier campsites. The sound of rushing water makes the experience all the more enjoyable when the nearby rivers are running after the rainy season.

🌡️ When to Visit: The campsite rests at close to 7,000 feet, so it gets cold here in the winter. Visit during the warmer months for more comfortable camping.

Havasupai Garden Campground, Grand Canyon National Park

Explore crystal-blue waterfalls at the most beautiful campsite in the Grand Canyon

View of a waterfalls in Havasupai Garden Campground
Put this Grand Canyon hike at the top of your bucket list!

🗺️ Distance from Flagstaff: 1 hour 30 minutes | Google Maps | Website | Reservations: online reservations | Amenities: drinking water, restrooms, and picnic tables

Havasupai is one of the most sought-after camping and hiking destinations in the United States. This Grand Canyon oasis is so picture-perfect it doesn’t even seem real. 

It’s a 20-mile round trip hike to get there, 10 of which take you straight up to get back out of the Grand Canyon. However, you don’t need to be experienced to make this trip; just be patient and willing to put in the steps on these lengthy hiking trails along the Colorado River.

Note that all reservations at Havasupai Campground need to be made well in advance. And I’m not talking about a few weeks. Sometimes you have to reserve up to a year in advance, depending on demand. So if you’re planning a trip to Arizona in the future, make sure to see what the Havasupai lottery looks like.

Make an account on HavasupaiReservations.com to get full details on Havasupai rules, processes, and laws. It’s a bit of a hassle, but once you’re in line, you’ll feel the exciting anticipation to experience this Arizona gem. 

The trip to Havasupai requires significant planning, so make sure to refer to our Grand Canyon packing list and our checklist of essentials for camping before you go. And remember – always respect the land and take out what you bring into the Grand Canyon.

📄 Take Note: This Grand Canyon destination is the most expensive place to camp on this list. Expect to spend upwards of $100 per person on permits.

Rent A Tent, Monument Valley

Feel like you’re on the set of a movie when you set up camp with a backdrop of these famous rocky buttes

Scenic view of the Monument Valley in Arizona
Imagine waking up to this view…

🗺️ Distance from Page: 2 hours | Google Maps | Website | Reservations: online reservations | Amenities: campfire rings, picnic tables, outhouses, showers (during the summer) 

Monument Valley is one of the most enchanting places to camp in Arizona. Set up your tent with a backdrop of the red rock buttes. The scenery is incredible, and the Native American history of this area is fascinating as well. Make sure to go to the visitor’s center to learn all about why Monument Valley is so special, aside from its striking looks.

Rent A Tent is the best place to camp in Monument Valley if you desire killer views (who wouldn’t?). See the matching mittens, and make sure to take a drive around these amazing formations when you venture out for the day.

🌡️ When to Visit: Any time besides summer is perfect. The heat will otherwise make sleeping outside sweaty and uncomfortable.

Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area

Challenge yourself to a backpacking adventure in this otherworldly landscape

View of a tent with lights at night in Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area
Find true solitude in this remote land

🗺️ Distance from Flagstaff: 1 hour 30 minutes | Google Maps | Website

The Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area is the most adventurous option on this list of places to camp in Arizona. There is no actual campsite, no place to hook up an RV. 

However, if you seek an isolated backpacking trip through one of the most unique landscapes in Arizona, this is free dispersed camping at its finest. Traverse through miles of petrified wood, far from any signs of civilization. Just make sure you’re in the designated wilderness area!

Permits: Backpacking permits are free at either visitor’s center. Get them right before you take off on your adventure.

Brookchar Campground, Big Lake Recreation Area

Cast a line from your tent at this gorgeous lakeside campsite

Colorful sky over the Big Lake during sunset
Watch the sunset reflect on the calm waters of Big Lake

🗺️ Distance from Springerville: 1 hour | Google Maps | Website | Reservations: online reservations | Amenities: flush toilets, boat ramps 

If you want to wake up to the sound of a gentle tide swishing over volcanic rocks, Brookchar Campground is calling your name. Big Lake is one of the best places to go summer camping and fishing in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forests, so you’ll likely be able to catch your dinner each night. 

Plus, who doesn’t love a peaceful lakeside stay? This spot is scenic, quiet, and all-around beautiful. Visit during the springtime to enjoy the sight of electric wildflowers surrounding the lake.

Catalina State Park, Oro Valley

Hike to waterfalls and go horseback riding beside the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains

The author with her family during their hike in Catalina State Park
My family and me hiking in Catalina State Park after the monsoon rains

🗺️ Distance from Tucson: 20 minutes | Google Maps | Website | Reservations: call or go online | Amenities: toilets, showers, RV hookups, grills, picnic tables, dump stations

Located in Oro Valley just north of Tucson, Catalina State Park is one of the best places to camp in Arizona if you’re RV camping. There are tons of spacious spots with well-kept facilities in the park, perfect for big groups and families. 

Catalina State Park is also one of the most beloved Tucson hiking destinations. Whether you take the easy loop around the park or the strenuous trek to Romero Pools, you’ll experience the beauty of the Santa Catalina Mountains and all their glory. 

I highly recommend this Arizona state park to anyone who wants a hassle-free experience in a gorgeous setting with plenty of hiking trails to choose from.

North Rim Campground, Grand Canyon National Park

Warm your hands over a crackling fire overlooking the wooded North Rim of the Grand Canyon

The author smiling for a photo during a cold morning in North Rim Campground
Cot camping next to the Grand Canyon in 35-degree weather… not my best idea

🗺️ Distance from Page: 2 hours 20 minutes | Google Maps | Website | Reservations: online only | Amenities: toilets, showers, RV hookups, laundry facilities, grills 

North Rim Campground offers some of the most scenic views of any Arizona campsite. My preference is to take one of the dirt roads near the campsite to find a more isolated spot like the one pictured above. 

Sometimes the campsite is overcrowded with loud groups, especially during the beautiful summer season. But if you want convenient amenities, I highly recommend North Rim Campground in the Kaibab National Forest.

Don’t miss the Grand Canyon Lodge – North Rim to see some of the most iconic views of the canyon. My favorite thing to do is watch the sunset over this incredible Wonder of the World with a Grand Canyon Brewing beer in hand.

📆 Seasonal Availability: This Grand Canyon campsite is only open from May 15 through October 15.

Cattail Cove State Park, Lake Havasu

A beachfront spot just on the outskirts of the crowds at Lake Havasu State Park

View from Lake Havasu State Park during sunset
Take a sunset dip in the calm waters at Lake Havasu State Park

🗺️ Distance from Lake Havasu City: 20 minutes | Google Maps | Website | Reservations: call or go online | Amenities: toilets, grills, fire pits, boat-in sites

Cattail Cove State Park is the best place to camp near Lake Havasu State Park. The park is located less than 20 miles from Lake Havasu City, so it’s easy to drive into the bustling city when you want to partake in bars, restaurants, and entertainment. Cattail Cove is a great spot for families or couples who want to enjoy quality time in a beautiful setting with the option to venture into the party city nearby.

When I think of camping, I think of peace and quiet. That’s why Cattail Cove – conveniently located on the outskirts of the populated sections of Lake Havasu – is the best spot to camp on the lake. You’ll enjoy the gorgeous scenery without the noise pollution of loud tourists partying on the shores. If you own a boat, you can reserve a boat-in campsite along the shoreline.

Lost Dutchman State Park, Superstition Mountains

A rustic spot with incredible views of the jagged Superstition Mountains

View from the Superstition Mountains at night
Make camp in the shadows of the intriguing Superstition Mountains, home to some of the best hiking trails near Phoenix

🗺️ Distance from Mesa: 30 minutes | Google Maps | Website | Reservations: call or go online | Amenities: toilets, showers, RV camping hookups, grills, tent pads, fire pits

If the name “Lost Dutchman” State Park doesn’t catch your attention, I don’t know what will. This central Arizona landscape sets the scene for an awesome campsite. It’s the perfect getaway along the iconic Apache Trail State Route 88. Set up a solo tent or roll up with the whole family in an RV. Anyone would enjoy a few nights at this picturesque campsite.

The Superstition Mountains make up the most beautiful mountain range near Phoenix. Lost Dutchman State Park is a fantastic place to go hiking in the lush Sonoran Desert environment. And it’s no more than 30 minutes from the outskirts of the capital city!

📚 Related Reading: 32 Best Things to Do in Phoenix (in 2022)

Kehl Springs Campground, Mogollon Rim

Overlook the picturesque Mogollon Rim just north of Payson

A camping tent at the middle of Kehl Springs Campground
Nothing beats a woodland setup beneath the ponderosa pines

🗺️ Distance from Payson: 1 hour | Google Maps | Website | Reservations: first-come, first-serve | Amenities: toilets, picnic tables

Escape the desert heat at Kehl Springs Campground in the Tonto National Forest. This small campsite is located a mere walk from the edge of the Mogollon Rim, one of the most iconic geologic features in Arizona. 

The campsite is surrounded by green ponderosa pines. Grassy meadows abound. The site is extremely well-maintained, and you’ll undoubtedly be comfortable with the accommodations. Wildlife watching is a must!

📍 Nearby: Visit the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park or Woods Canyon Lake, just over 30 minutes from the campsite.

Reef Townsite Campground, Hereford

Sleep under the brilliant stars in this southern Arizona mountain range

A small bonfire to warm the night in Reef Townsite Campground
There’s nothing like a warm fire on a chilly Arizona night. Bring s’mores supplies!

🗺️ Distance from Bisbee: 1 hour | Google Maps | Website | Reservations: first-come, first-serve or online reservations | Amenities: toilets, grills, picnic table 

Just south of Sierra Vista, Reef Townsite Campsite is the southernmost campsite on this list of places to camp in Arizona. This was once a mining town until it was returned to public ownership in 1970. Set up your tent on the foundation of an old cabin. Evidence of the ghost town, including the water tower and dilapidated homes, still remains. 

The beauty of the Huachuca Mountains paired with the history of this site makes Reef Townsite one of the most intriguing campsites in southern Arizona. This is an excellent choice if you seek an isolated stay in the Coronado National Forest with plenty of hiking trails and mountain biking trails nearby.

Upper & Lower Twilight Group Campground, Mount Graham

Enjoy convenient camping with the whole family at this mountain getaway

The author's friend sitting on a tent in Mount Graham
My friend Jojo taking in the fresh mountain air on Mount Graham

🗺️ Distance from Safford: 45 minutes | Google Maps | Website | Reservations: online reservations | Amenities: vault toilets, picnic tables, campfire rings, grills, food storage lockers, trash collection

Upper & Lower Twilight Group Campground is my number one pick for family camping in Arizona. Not only is it an easily accessible spot in a beautiful place, but it also is a safe area for kids and dogs to run around without being in a treacherous environment. The little ones will love this mountain escape, and you’ll be able to relax without worrying too much about their safety in the forest.

There are plenty of picnic tables to set up an outdoor feast at this campsite. You can also go on a multitude of hikes nearby on Mount Graham. Though this site is slightly farther from major Arizona cities, it’s worth the drive to explore this gorgeous section of the Coronado National Forest.

Lower Log of North Fork Campground, Whiteriver

Fall asleep to the sound of the babbling brook beside this woodland campsite

View of the greenery in White Mountains
Summer rains create intense greenery in the White Mountains, one of the best places to go camping in Arizona

🗺️ Distance from Pinetop: 30 minutes | Google Maps | Website | Reservations: first-come, first-serve

Lower Log Campground is located on White Mountain Apache tribal land. This area is renowned by Arizona natives as one of the most beautiful forested lands in the state. Lower Log consists of several tent camping sites right next to the rushing Bull Creek. You can go fishing for rainbow trout here, or simply enjoy the beautiful nature beside the water. 

The dirt section of the way to the campsite can be a bit rough after summer rains, so ensure your vehicle can navigate rocky roads before setting out to this remote spot. Enjoy a secluded reprieve from civilization once you arrive, a much-needed escape from reality.

📍 Nearby: The beautiful mountain towns of Greer and Pinetop are within an hour of Lower Log Campground. 

Willow Campground, Waddell

Inexpensive camping in a secluded desert landscape just outside of the capital city

The author with a friend roasting weenies on a fire in Willow Campground
My friend Hailey and me roasting weenies on the fire

🗺️ Distance from Phoenix: 40 minutes | Google Maps | Website | Reservations: online reservations | Amenities: restrooms, showers, dishwashing station, fire rings, picnic table

Spend a few nights in the Sonoran Desert at Willow Campground, one of the most highly-rated campsites on this list of where to camp in Arizona. Located in White Tank Mountain Regional Park, it’s one of the best Phoenix day trips. This beautiful spot will give you a newfound appreciation for desert scenery.

This desert campsite is truly stunning, with magnificent saguaros, palo verde trees, and prickly pear cacti in every direction. If you visit after the monsoon rains, set up your tent on a blanket of bright green grass. 

Though there are restrictions on vehicle length, you can bring a small camper here if you prefer that to tent camping. Sleep under the glow of the stars and watch the faint Phoenix city lights in the distance.

Patagonia Lake Campground, Patagonia Lake State Park

A family-friendly spot perfect for recreational watersports and relaxing beach time

A camping tent on a grassy spot in Patagonia Lake Campground
Set up camp in a grassy spot right beside the blue waters of Patagonia Lake

🗺️ Distance from Tucson: 1 hour 30 minutes | Google Maps | Website | Reservations: call or go online | Amenities: toilets, showers, grills, fire pits, RV hookups, picnic tables

Patagonia Lake is where Tucsonans go to escape the heat with a day at the beach. This southern Arizona hotspot is set in the gorgeous rolling hills south of Madera Canyon and just north of the Nogales border. The lush, green landscape is breathtaking, and the lake is a welcome change from the desert scenery nearby.

Patagonia Lake Campsite is convenient and cheap, the perfect place to bring the whole family for a stress-free weekend outdoors. The kiddos will love splashing around in the cool water. 

There are also plenty of scenic hiking trails nearby if you want to explore the land surrounding the lake. The only criticism I give this campsite is that, when it gets busy, it can be hard to fall asleep when noise levels rise in the crowded camp.

FAQs About Arizona Camping

Where can you camp for free in Arizona?

You can camp for free at many campsites all over Arizona. Most free sites operate on a first-come, first-served basis, but you can usually find openings depending on what time of year/day you visit. However, if you do pay, most sites require less than $10 per vehicle.

What is the best time to camp in Arizona?

Summer is the best time to camp in Arizona in the mountains, while spring/fall is the best time to camp in the desert regions. The summer heat is too much to bear in the Sonoran Desert, but the summer weather is perfect at higher elevations. And conversely, the winter months are brutal in the high mountains. Opt for a southern scene during the cold seasons.

***

I hope this article gave you a clear vision of the best places to go camping in Arizona. Whether you’re pitching a tent in the Sonoran Desert or the forested mountains, you’ll be sure to have a fantastic experience in the Grand Canyon State with all the camping Arizona offers!

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2 Comments

  1. I agree with Betty getting away from the crowds is the trick from these beautiful places to camp.Great comments and pictures plus great ideas were to go. Keep up the good work Betty.

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