26 Best Places to Camp in Arizona

There’s nothing like sleeping under the stars and cooking breakfast on a campfire after a long night of wilderness exploring. Be it in an RV, tent or building your own fire pit, Arizona offers numerous places to get back to nature (and even some cool amenities). Some of these camping spots are for overnight stays while others offer longer term rentals. Read on to discover the best camping spots and choose your next adventure location:

26 Places to Camp in Arizona

In no particular order. 🙂

best places to camp in arizona

1) Lost Dutchman State Park – Apache Junction, AZ

Experience the rugged beauty of the Superstition Mountains at this expansive state park. Choose from one of two developed campgrounds or venture out into the 1,500-acre wilderness area where you can hike backcountry trails and stay overnight in a rustic cabin (if you’re willing to make a reservation way in advance). Other activities at this state park include horseback riding, biking and stargazing!

2) Lake Havasu & More – Lake Havasu City, AZ

Not only does this city offer the beautiful Lake Havasu (with over 4 million visitors every year), but you can also enjoy other activities in the surrounding area. The city is home to numerous parks where you can go biking, hiking or geocaching, plus there are two golf courses nearby. Of course, Lake Havasu is known for its partying and nightlife so be sure to check out the variety of bars and restaurants in town!

3) Ponderosa State Park – Pine, AZ

This pine forest state park offers visitors over 25 miles of trails perfect for hiking or mountain biking (or horseback riding when it’s not too dry). It’s close proximity to Flagstaff makes it a good stop for those looking to explore Northern Arizona. There are 15 cabins available in which you can rent by the week or day, while there are also campsites available for those looking to enjoy a more rustic stay.

4) Metcalf Motor Vehicle Recreation Area – Tucson, AZ

This state park is known for its numerous trails where you can bike, hike or ride your off-road vehicle! There are over 150 miles of trails made up of grades I through III so there’s something for every skill level. Even the most novice biker will be able to enjoy their time in this scenic desert oasis. To top it off, many of these trails offer gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and rock formations.

5) Catalina State Park – Tucson, AZ

Two words: hot springs! This state park is actually located near the town of Oro Valley and is lined with lush trees. Choose to camp in one of the designated group areas or enjoy a secluded campsite all on your own. The park also offers numerous activities, including hiking trails, bird watching, biking and horseback riding. There are even rock climbing opportunities nearby for those who are adventurously inclined!

6) Dead Horse Ranch State Park – Cottonwood, AZ

This state park offers over 3 miles of trails that wind through cacti-strewn hillsides and swaying grasses. Visitors will enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding Mogollon Rim as well as three artificial lakes where you can take out a boat or fish to your’s content. Enjoy guided tours of the petrified wood forest or tee off on one of the three golf courses nearby. The state park also offers cabin rentals (for an overnight experience) while there are tent campsites available for those looking to sleep under the stars.

7) Lake Pleasant Regional Park – Peoria, AZ

If you’re interested in camping near a lake with a bit more action, then check out this regional park and its over 1 million visitors every year! Located outside of Phoenix, this park is full of activities like boating, fishing and swimming thanks to its popular man-made reservoir. If staying active isn’t really your thing though, there’s always exploring those desert trails on foot or by bike to keep yourself occupied. Overnight stays include campsites and RV hookups while cabins and villas are also available for rent by the day.

8) Kartchner Caverns State Park – Benson, AZ

This state park is home to the “longest limestone cave in Arizona”–how cool! There’s a visitor center on site where you can get an education on these geological formations; only those with valid caving permits (obtained at the visitor center) are allowed to explore beyond this point though. Hikers will love staying in one ofthe five campsites found in the area, while there are private rooms available in a central lodge. Other activities include bird watching, biking and touring the desert landscape via ATV tours or horseback riding.

9) Lake Havasu State Park – Lake Havasu City, AZ

This new state park is located on the southern edge of Lake Havasu and offers stunning views of the famous London Bridge. Hiking enthusiasts won’t be disappointed by any means here thanks to the many trails that wind through 300+ acres of desert landscape. There are eight group campsites available for those looking to explore outdoor living with a group, while there are also 13 standalone tent areas that are perfect for an overnight stay under the stars!

10) Kaibab National Forest – North Rim, AZ

Not only does this national forest offer numerous opportunities to hike its lush trails, but it’s also home to amazing landmarks like the Grand Canyon! The North Rim is the less visited of the two but it’s no less worth visiting. The crowds disappear as you hike through dense forests and wide open canyons, so much so that someone might even mistake it for being deserted! At its higher elevations, snow remains year-round. Only those adept at winter hiking should plan to visit during these harsh months though. If camping isn’t quite your style, there are also cabins available for rent.

11) Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument – Flagstaff, AZ

This national monument protects an extinct volcanic cinder cone located in the Sunset Crater National Park–so cool! A 1.3 mile trail winds through lava fields and other geological formations like lava tubes (a man-made structure that is created by flowing lava). There are also trails that connect to the Wupatki National Monument and Walnut Canyon National Monument for even more hiking. Best of all, the trail leading up to Sunset Crater Volcano’s crater is wheelchair accessible!

12) Saguaro National Park – Tucson, AZ

This national park protects some of the world’s largest cacti in its desert landscape. It contains four wilderness areas within its boundaries too so if you’re one who enjoys a little solitude while enjoying nature then this just might be your dream destination. Hikers can choose from among 80 miles worth of trails or plan a backpacking excursion with some friends. Be sure to pack plenty of water though–it gets hot out there! There are also car camping options available in the park for those who want to spend the night without having to worry about hiking.

13) Petrified Forest National Park – Holbrook, AZ

This national park is home to one of the world’s largest concentrations of petrified wood that spans more than 200,000 acres–amazing! A designated wilderness area where you’ll be able to enjoy year-round camping awaits anyone brave enough to spend a night under the stars surrounded by these famous “fossil trees”. If you’re not into roughing it though, you can stay at any one of three campgrounds located near this Arizona gem; don’t forget your sunscreen and bug spray too because the elements out here can get pretty strong!

14) Canyon de Chelly National Monument – Chinle, AZ

This national monument protects a beautiful canyon that’s home to ruins and rock art left behind by the ancient Puebloans (also known as Anasazi). The White House Ruin Trail is considered to be the most popular option for hiking here. Hikers are rewarded after their strenuous climb with views of Spider Rock, whose name says it all when it comes to describing its distinctive shape. If you think you’ll be up for an overnight stay though, there are also campsites in the area so don’t forget your camping permit!

15) Saguaro National Park East Unit – Tucson, AZ

This unit is home to some of the world’s largest saguaro cacti, which is what the park is named for. There are also trails here that lead to mountains and canyons as well as a desert habitat filled with a variety of wildlife. If you’re looking for a bit more solitude on your outdoor excursion, this unit provides just what you need! Just like the Saguaro National Park mentioned before it, this one offers camping too so don’t forget your camping permit!

16) Tonto National Forest – Phoenix, AZ

Located in the country’s fifth-largest county lies The Tonto National Forest–one of its kind found in Arizona. It contains four designated wilderness areas where visitors can camp at their heart’s content. There are also other forests labeled as “special areas” that contain campsites and hiking trails, but may not be up for overnight stays which means you’ll need to check ahead of time before heading out! Feel free to contact the district ranger’s office if you have any questions about this forest.

17) Red Rock State Park – Sedona, AZ

This state park is located in the thick of red rocks and covers 1250 acres of land filled with canyons and peaks. The Enchantment Lakes Trail leads hikers right through these beautiful surroundings where they’re rewarded after their strenuous climb with a breathtaking view at the top overlooking Oak Creek Canyon… words cannot describe it! If you get hungry, there’s also a restaurant located in the park where you can stop for a bite before starting your hike.

18) Alamo Lake State Park – Wenden, AZ

This state park is located in west-central Arizona and surrounds Alamo Lake which was created when the federal government built the Coolidge Dam back in 1924. The lake provides opportunities for boating, fishing, water skiing, camping, hiking, picnicking and biking too! Since this area of Arizona is extremely hot during most of the year it’s recommended that visitors come between October and April when temperatures are moderate. There are also designated campsites here so don’t forget your camping permit!

19) Chiricahua National Monument – Willcox, AZ

This national monument is home to a unique set of rock formations known as the Chiricahua Mountains and was designated as such back in 1924 after local residents and members of Congress urged for its protection. There’s also an abundance of wildlife here like birds, reptiles and large mammals that can be dangerous if encountered on hiking trails, which is why it’s important to take caution when planning your outdoor excursion. With that said though, there are 38 miles worth of hiking trails you can choose from along with camping sites!

20) Tuzigoot National Monument – Clarkdale, AZ

This national monument consists of the remains of a village built by ancient Pueblo people who once lived here sometime between 1100 and 1450 AD. The Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail is also located nearby and goes right through the Verde Valley. If you’re up for an overnight stay at one of the designated campsites there are also cabins available here that will make your stay more comfortable.

21) Montezuma’s Castle National Monument – Camp Verde, AZ

This monument is located in central Arizona and surrounds a limestone cave. It was designated as such back in 1906 when local residents petitioned for its protection. Hikers can take the Kannally Ranch House Trail to see some of the ancient ruins found here while others can check out Montezuma Well which has water year round–perfect for taking a dip on hot summer days! There are also other trails in this area that are open for hikers, but you’ll need to call the district ranger’s office in advance if you plan on taking them.

22) Dead Horse Ranch State Park – Cottonwood, AZ

This state park is located in the Verde Valley and features a beautiful man-made lake surrounded by lush greenery perfect for hiking and picnicking. There are also opportunities for biking here along with designated campsites that will give you everything you need for an overnight stay!

23) Petrified Forest National Park – Holbrook, AZ

Being one of the nation’s largest national parks outside of Alaska, this gem found in west-central Arizona is full of different kinds of fossils–including petrified wood and dinosaur bones too! There are also trails here that lead all the way through this forest so be sure to wear appropriate clothing when hiking. You can also camp at designated campsites found within the park which is perfect if you’re looking for something more than just a day trip.

24) Fort Verde State Historic Park – Camp Verde, AZ

This state historic park is located in central Arizona and once served as an outpost for soldiers performing reconnaissance during the Apache wars many years ago. It was later used by settlers when they first moved into this area in search of gold before becoming part of the Southwest United States in 1912. There’s also plenty of history to take in while you’re touring these grounds like when it housed Japanese-American internees during the Second World War and even became a relocation center for them after the war ended. There’s also an abundance of wildlife found here like birds and lizards that can be dangerous during mating season so use caution when hiking or camping here.

25) Cholla Cactus Garden – Tucson, AZ

If you’re looking for something colorful to see in this area then make sure to stop by the Desert Survivors Reptile & Amphibian Rescue located on the east side of I-10 between exits 261 and 262 where there are different varieties of cacti that will take your breath away! You’ll need to call (520) 881-9988 if you plan on taking the guided tour which is offered at 10 am daily; reservations are also available although they’re not required.

26) Kartchner Caverns State Park – Benson, AZ

This state park is located in the southeastern part of Arizona and has some of the best examples of limestone caves that can be found anywhere! There are 2 tours here that you can choose from–the Big Room Tour which lasts an hour and takes you through a 750 foot long tunnel while showing you what’s inside this spectacular cave; or there’s the King’s Palace Tour which features over 400 feet worth of tunnels and chambers. You’ll need to make reservations for these tours though so give them a call before visiting if you plan on going!

Eddie Foster

I love camping. I've camped in all 50 states and on six continents. One of my more unique camping experiences came in Tibet, where I joined a yak caravan and slept under the stars with no tent (and some really "large" yaks).

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