A tent in the desert at sunset

41 of the Best Places to Camp in Arizona

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Arizona is a state in the Southwestern region of the United States and is also a member of the Western and Mountain States. Southern Arizona is known for the desert climate with hot summers and mild winters. Northern Arizona is a place in stark contrast from the Southern part of the state, with Pine forests, Douglas firs, and Spruce trees.

Arizona is a place with unique and diverse landscapes that take your breath away. From the world famous depths of the Grand Canyon to the highlands of the San Franciso Peaks, there is something and somewhere for everyone to enjoy.

Best Places to Camp by Water in Arizona

There’s not much better than having a place to cool off from the scorching hot Arizona sunshine. With a large portion of the state in a dry and arid desert climate, having a lake or river to splash around in is priceless. Luckily, there are a number of places to camp on the waterfront, whether it’s lakes or river’s, the water is equally refreshing.

Ashurst Lake Campground

The Ashurst Lake Campground in the Coconino National Forest recreational area has 25 campsites grouped in the scenic surroundings of juniper and pinyon trees with tables, fire rings, and parking. Ashurst Lake has the unique ability to hold high water levels for years in drought conditions, so you can be sure there’s water to play in and around. The rustic gravel roads offer great places to hike or ride bikes and the lake offers excellent fishing and bird-watching.

  • Nightly Rates: $18.00
  • Season Dates: May – October
  • Electrical Hookups: Not available

Cave Springs Campground

Cave Springs Campground is found at the Northern side of Sedona’s Oak Creek Canyon. There are a total of 78 campsites available for reservation and a few more that are rewarded on a first come first serve basis. It’s found in a forested canyon close to Sedona, Arizona and is famous for the stunning red rock cliffs. The scenery is incredible, the stream is fully stocked with trout, and there’s plenty of places to swim, fish, and hike.

  • Nightly Rates: $22.00
  • Season Dates: April 12, 2019 – October 25, 2019 (Peak Season)
  • Electrical Hookups: Not available

Cattail Cove State Park

Cattail Cove State Park is located 15 miles south of Lake Havasu City and is a popular day use and overnight destination. There are 64 campsites in total that offer a wide range of activities along the shores of Lake Havasu. The white sand beach is perfect for relaxing and there are a number of hiking trails to get away from the crowds. If you happen to have access to a boat, there are 32 secluded campsites found along the water’s edge.

  • Nightly Rates: $30.00 – $40.00
  • Season Dates: Open all year
  • Electrical Hookups: Yes

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Often referred to as, “America’s most diverse national recreation area”, Lake Mead National Recreation area spans 1.5 million acres of valleys, canyons, mountains, and 2 enormous lakes. It is the perfect playground for anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors, with boating, hiking, camping, fishing, and cycling at your disposal. It encompasses Lake Mead and Lake Mohave, as well as, reservoirs created by the Hoover and Davis dams.

  • Nightly Rates: $20.00
  • Season Dates: Open all year
  • Electrical Hookups: Yes and No, depends on the campground

Squaw Lake

The Squaw Lake Campground is located directly above the Imperial Dam on the backwaters of the Colorado River and hosts both tent and RV camping spots. The Penninsula the campground sits on sticks out into the lake and all of the campsites are located near the water. There’s a fishing, kayaking, and a small network of hiking trails all within walking distance of the campsites.

  • Nightly Rates: $15.00 per vehicle
  • Season Dates: Open all year
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Jacob Lake National Recreation Area

Jacob Lake National Recreation Area is found in Jacob Lake and the campground is tucked away underneath the shadows of Ponderosa Pine trees of North Kaibab National Forest. The lake is open for both fishing and boating, and the pine-tree lined campsites are spacious sites with standard amenities. It’s also the main access route to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim.

  • Nightly Rates: $20.00 per night
  • Season Dates: May 1 – Oct 15
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Apache Lake

Apache Lake is set next to the Apache Trail and is surrounded by the Superstition Wilderness and the Three Bar Wildlife Area. There are several campgrounds along Apache Lake managed by the USDA Forest Service that include Crabtree Wash, Davis Wash, Burnt Corral, and Three Mile Wash. Apache Lake is 17 miles long and offers hiking, boating, camping, fishing, and is host to a number of different desert wildlife.

  • Nightly Rates: $6.00 per day, however, rates may vary at different campgrounds
  • Season Dates: Open all year
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Lake Havasu State Park

Lake Havasu State Park is set on the unforgettable shoreline of Lake Havasu and offers white sand beaches and panoramic views of the lake and nearby mountains. There are 47 campsites near the water all with electrical hookups and freshwater. There’s also a short scenic hike and the Arroyo-Camino Interpretive Garden, which is home to a variety of plants and wildlife.

  • Nightly Rates: $35.00 – $40.00 for beachfront camping sites
  • Season Dates: Open all year
  • Electrical Hookups: Yes

Patagonia Lake State Park

Patagonia Lake State Park is located 12 miles North of Nogales and sits at an elevation of 3,750 feet in the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area. There are 105 single-family campsites, each with electric hookups, a table, fire ring, and grill. The lake is 265 acres and is stocked with fish, hiking trails, and historic sites.

  • Nightly Rates: $20.00 – $30.00
  • Season Dates: Open all year
  • Electrical Hookups: Yes

Coon Bluff

Coon Bluff is a primitive recreation perched on a bluff above the Salt River in the Tonto National Forest. There are only 5 established campsites, however, camping is generally tolerated anywhere on the bluff. Along the river there are swimming spots, hiking and riding trails, and it’s common to see wild horses wander through the camprgound.

  • Nightly Rates: Free with a Tonto pass
  • Season Dates: Oct 1 – May 1
  • Electrical Hookups: Yes

Saguaro Lake

Saguaro Lake sits in the Sonora Desert and is part of the Tonto National Forest. The lake is lined with tall canyon walls and the shores of the lake are dotted with Saguaro cactus. There is boat access camping at the east end of the lake and there is tent camping available at Bagley Flat (by boat) with tables and grills but no access to water.

  • Nightly Rates: Tonto daily pass ($8.00 per day)
  • Season Dates: All year
  • Electrical Hookups: Yes

Best Places for Tent Camping in Arizona

Arizona has some incredible camping locations spread throughout the state. Tent camping in the desert is a unique experience and a great way to enjoy the natural marvels that the Arizona landscape has to offer.

Lost Dutchman State Park

Named after the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, the Lost Dutchman State Park is 320-acre park found in Central Arizona, close to the Superstition Mountains. The campground has 138 sites, each with a fire pit, picnic table, and adjustable grill gate. Popular for the hiking trails which traverse the Sonoran desert, there are numerous hikes available for every level of hiker.

  • Nightly Rates: Fees range from $15.00 – $25.00
  • Season Dates: Oct 1 – May 1
  • Electrical Hookups: 68 sites have electric

Pine Grove Campground

Located in the lush Coconino National Forest in Northern Arizona, the Pine grove Campground is made up of 46 individual sites. Coconino National Forest is comprised of 1.8 million acres that offer crystal clear lakes, red rock cliffs, towering pine trees, and desert basins. Wildlife is a central focus, with migrating waterfowl, bald eagles, ospreys, elk, and mule deer.

  • Nightly Rates: $24.00
  • Season Dates: Early May – Early October
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Aspen Campground

Aspen Campground rests in a dense pine forest in North Central Arizona at an elevation of 7,500 feet. There are 148 campsites in this large campground and the settings range from marshy meadows to dense pine forests. Wood Canyon Lake is close by, with a hiking trail that works its way around the lake, great fishing, and wildlife that commonly visits the park. Keep in mind, this is one of the most popular campsites in Arizona, so make your plans early.

  • Nightly Rates: $22.00 (non-electrical)
  • Season Dates: May 1 – Oct 1
  • Electrical Hookups: At certain campsites

Cave Springs Campground

Cave Springs Campground is found in the scenic Oak Creek Canyon in the Coconino National Forest. There is a total of 84 campsites with picnic tables, campfire rings, and grills for cooking. There is plenty of hiking nearby, some of the sites are on the banks of Oak Creek, and Sedona is just a short drive away.

  • Nightly Rates: $22.00
  • Season Dates: Early April – Oct 29
  • Electrical Hookups: No

The View Campground in Monument Valley

Monument Valley is comprised of the quintessential southwest landscape with incredible red rock formations, cast desert expanses, and wild horses. The monuments have been featured in a number of films since the 1930’s and are as unique as any National Landmark you can imagine. There are 30 spacious sites at the Monument Valley Campground that offer unobstructed views of Monument Valley.

  • Nightly Rates: $42.00
  • Season Dates: Spring, Summer, Autumn
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Hospital Flat Campground

Hospital Flat Campground sits along Big Creek nestled into a mixed conifer forest, next to a meadow that displays vibrant colors when the wildflowers bloom in August or September. During the 1880s, the area that is now the campground served as a field hospital for soldiers from the nearby Fort Grant. There are 20 total sites in this chill mountain meadow, wonderful hiking, and a secluded environment.

  • Nightly Rates: $10.00
  • Season Dates: Apr 15 – Nov 14
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Lee’s Ferry Campground

Lee’s Ferry was originally a famous river crossing that was used from 1872 to 1928. Today it’s the only location within Glen’s Canyon that you can drive right up to the Colorado River. Lee’s Ferry Campground has a total of 51 campsites that are perched on a bench above the river with no natural shade, so bring your sunscreen!

  • Nightly Rates: $20.00
  • Season Dates: Year around
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Locket Meadow

Found in the Coconino National Forest, the Locket Meadow Campground offers breathtaking views of the Inner Basin and the San Francisco Peaks. This charming campground is made up of 17 sites that each offer unmatched views of the wilderness set in a grassy meadow. Sitting at 7,000 feet, there is hiking access to the highest point of Mt. Humphreys and the Inner Basin.

  • Nightly Rates: $12.00
  • Season Dates: May 3 – Oct 15
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Catalina State Park

The Catalina State Park is nestled in the mountainous beauty of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Covering 5,500 sprawling acres of saguaro cactus-lined hillsides, it offers numerous hiking trails that provide a limitless source of entertainment. There are 120 campsites with electric and water available, as well as, modern restrooms and hot showers.

  • Nightly Rates: $30.00
  • Season Dates: All year
  • Electrical Hookups: Yes

North Rim Campground

The North Rim Campground in the Grand Canyon National Park is famous for the majestic setting of the world famous Grand Canyon. Sitting at 8,200 feet in elevation, the campground is made up of 90 sites sitting in the shade of Ponderosa pines and a spattering of aspen trees. Hiking is the number one reason people visit the park, with the North Kaibab Trail, Bridle Trail, and Transept Trail next door.

  • Nightly Rates: $18.00 – $25.00
  • Season Dates: May 15 – Oct 31
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Best Free Camping in Arizona

The only thing better than camping is free camping. You won’t find any of the modern amenities that you’ll at developed campgrounds, however, you will have solitude and freedom that you simply won’t find at pay campgrounds.

Airplane Flat Campground

Airplane Flat Campground is a dispersed camping area set in the Tonto National Forest. To camp here you need to pack in everything that you need, including water, and pack everything out, including waste (poop). The campground is set among a thick layer of Ponderosa pines, White firs, Douglas firs, and Canyon Creek is just a short walk away.

  • Nightly Rates: Free
  • Season Dates: Apr – Nov
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Alderwood Campground

Alderwood Campground is another dispersed camping area, which means that you need to be completely self-sustained. There are swimming holes in and around the campground and the sites are all well-shaded, giving you a welcomed break from the Arizona sun. Haigler Creek flows directly through the campground and is stocked with trout from April through late August, so pack your fishing pole.

  • Nightly Rates: Free
  • Season Dates: Apr – Nov
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Wolf Creek Road Campground

Wolf Creek Road Campground is a dispersed camping ground found in the Prescott Basin, just outside the town of Prescott. There are 12 large campsites surrounded by trees, each with a fire ring and a post marking each camp site. The Prescott Basin makes up 59,00 acres with plenty of hiking trails nearby and a town nearby for supplies, keep in mind these are very basic campsites off of a road.

  • Nightly Rates: Free
  • Season Dates: May 1 – Oct 31
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Childs Camping Area

Sitting below what remains of the Childs Power Plant on the Verde River, the Childs Dispersed Camping Area has 30 sites on a first come first serve basis. A short hike away are the ruins of the Verde Hot Springs, a once famous luxury resort. The natural hot springs alone are worth the trip and the sites sit on the water, what more could you ask for?

  • Nightly Rates: Free
  • Season Dates: Open all year
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Swansea Ghost Town

The Swansea Historic Ghost Town is found in the middle of nowhere, near Parker, Arizona. The campground sits where abandoned mining town was once full of life. There is a handful of sites available found at the end of a long dirt road, several adobe and brick buildings, and abandoned mine shafts to explore, with caution.

  • Nightly Rates: Free
  • Season Dates: Open all year
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Blue Crossing Campground

The Blue Crossing Campground is nestled within the majestic Blue River Valley, sitting at 6,200 feet. The campground consists of just 4 campsites and is a great place to set up camp to explore the Blue Range Primitive Area through the Tutt Creek Trailhead. There is one vaulted toilet, other than that, you need to pack all your supplies in and all your waste out.

  • Nightly Rates: Free
  • Season Dates: May – Oct
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Saddle Mountain

The Saddle Mountain Camping Area is located in the desert, near the west Phoenix own of Tonopah. The most prominent feature is the Saddle Mountain Ridge that is a short hike from the campground and if your lucky you might find a Saddle Mountain fire agate rock, a rare gem only found in this area of Arizona. There are primitive campsites and places to park an RV available to whoever gets there first.

  • Nightly Rates: Free
  • Season Dates: Spring, Fall, Winter
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Lawrence Crossing

The Lawrence Crossing Campground is found in the Coconino National Forest and features 6 tent only campsites that sit along Wet Beaver Creek. Tucked away in a desert oasis, there is a steep gorge that has been cut into the Colorado Plateau’s southern face. The Wet Beaver Wilderness has places to swim, fish, camp, and hike in a picturesque setting.

  • Nightly Rates: Free
  • Season Dates: Open all year
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Nolan Tank

Nolan Tank is a dispersed camping area down Forest Road 525, close to Sedona with expansive views of the Red Rocks. The boondocking site is along a dirt road that gets a little rough towards the end, however, the secluded location and breathtaking views are well worth the drive. There are hikes up the hill with incredible views and you can see nearly every star in the sky at night. If great views, seclusion, and free camping are your thing, this hidden little gem is perfect for you.

  • Nightly Rates: Free
  • Season Dates: Open all year
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Herb Martyr Campground

The Herb Martyr Campground is a popular access point to Cave Creek Canyon hiking and a bird watchers dream come true. This tent camping only site is divided into 2 locations, 1 is accessible from the upper parking areas and the other is off a loop road near the stream. There are views of a 365 foot Winn Falls waterfall, Snowshed and Crest Trail, as well as, wildlife to enjoy.

  • Nightly Rates: Free
  • Season Dates: Open all year
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Best Backpacking Camping Spots in Arizona

Backpacking camping is a way to explore the outdoors without the large crowds found at normal campsites. The best things in life take work, and these camping spots will give you the chance to disconnect from the “real world” while reconnecting with the natural wonders of mother nature.

Escalante Route at the Grand Canyon

The Escalante Route Trail is a 3 to 5 day, 34.8 mile trail that takes you on an adventure in the Grand Canyon, from rim to river. In order to camp along the way, you need to apply for a backcountry permit to camp in the Grand Canyon. This bucket list trail will give you everything the Grand Canyon has to offer, taking you on an adventure through majestic rock formations, along the banks of the Colorado River, and unparalleled viewpoints of the Grand Canyon.

  • Nightly Rates: Backcountry permit required ($10 + $5 per person/day)
  • Season Dates: Open all year
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Havasu Falls in the Havasupai Reservation

The Havasupai Reservation is a remote destination that sits just outside the Grand Canyon National Park, famous for the turquoise water and powerful waterfall. Even though this is found in an extremely isolated location, camping in the canyon is an extremely popular activity. You need to apply for a permit early in the season, in 2018 the entire seasons permits sold out in the first day and day hiking into the falls is not allowed.

  • Nightly Rates: $100 per person per night Monday-Thursday, and $125/night Friday-Sunday.
  • Season Dates: Spring, Summer, Autumn
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Backpack the Grand Canyon: Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim

The Grand Canyon is one of the most recognizable natural wonders of the world and taking a backpacking trip to experience first hand a once in a lifetime experience. While there is a large network of trails for day hiking, the best way to experience the Grand Canyon in all its beauty is to hike rim-rim-rim and camp along the way.

  • Nightly Rates: $10 per permit plus $8 per person
  • Season Dates: May 15 – Oct 15 are the best times of the year
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Horton Springs

Horton Springs is one of the most amazing hikes in Arizona’s Rim Country and spews cold, crystal clear water all year long. While you can make the 8.5 mile trip a day hike, the best way to really get a chance to enjoy it is to hike in, camp, and explore the springs. There are quite a few campsites once you get close to the springs and you can set up, take in the springs, and then hike out the next day.

  • Nightly Rates: Backcountry permit required ($10 + $5 per person/day)
  • Season Dates: Open all year
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Cabin Loop Trail

The Cabin Loop Trail, on the Mongoloon Rim, takes you into a world that looks nothing like the Arizona desert that first comes to mind. It will take you on a 19 mile journey through lush forests, rickety old cabins, alongside a variety of creeks. Overall, this is a 2 day, 19 mile trail with spots to camp at Aspen Springs and another spot about a half mile past Aspen Springs.

  • Nightly Rates: None
  • Season Dates: Accessible all year
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Campaign Creek Loop

The Campaign Creek Loop is a 30 mile loop that takes you on trails through the eastern Superstition Mountains, which happen to be the highest elevation of the entire range. This 3 day hike includes a historic ranch site and a side trail that takes you to the highest peak in the Superstition Mountains, Mound Mountain. There are primitive camping spots along the creek, with views of the valley below.

  • Nightly Rates: $8.00 per day
  • Season Dates: Best Oct –Nov, April–May
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Hermit Trail

There are plenty of places to hike in the Grand Canyon and the Hermit Trail is one of the more challenging. This 25 mile hike takes you along a portion of the Tonto Trail and you begin by descending through 3 types of Arizona rock; Kaibab Limestone, Toroweap Formation, and Coconino Sandstone. Throughout this hike, you get a bird’s eye view of the Colorado River, a spectacular view of geological formations, and the Bright Angel Trail.

  • Nightly Rates: Backcountry permit required ($10 + $5 per person/day)
  • Season Dates: Best Oct –Nov, April–May
  • Electrical Hookups: No

South Kaibab Trail to Cremation Canyon

Cremation Canyon is a welcomed break for backpackers to get away from the large crowds typically found in the Grand Canyon. A Cremation camping trip gives you the opportunity to experience Phantom Ranch and the Bright Angel Trail. You can set up camp along the cliff’s edge, overlooking the Colorado River, for a million dollar view and there’s a good chance you’ll be the only people there.

  • Nightly Rates: Backcountry permit required ($10 + $5 per person/day)
  • Season Dates: All year
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Reavis Ranch Trail

The Reavis Ranch Trail is an overnight hike that takes you into the Superstition Wilderness. The trail takes you through grassy meadows, groves of alligator juniper, and ponderosa pines. The main attraction is the Reavis Ranch and its historic apple orchard, with a freshwater source, camping, and fresh apples in Fall.

  • Nightly Rates: Free
  • Season Dates: All year
  • Electrical Hookups: No

Charlebois Spring via Bluff Spring & Dutchman Trails

Charlebois Spring, pronounced “Charley Boy” by locals, is found in the Western portion of the Superstition wilderness and has several fresh water sources nearby. There are several overnight backpacking trips in the area, with 3 different route choices. The most popular route takes you takes you around Miners Needle, through the Red Tanks Trail towards Charlebois Spring, with the return route via Bluff Spring.

  1. Nightly Rates: Free
  2. Season Dates: All year
  3. Electrical Hookups: No

Conclusion

Camping in Arizona is so much more than desert, cactus, and scorching hot weather. From the forests of the majestic Superstition Wilderness to backpacking the Grand Canyon rim to rim, there is something for everyone. So get your gear, make a plan, and lets begin your next adventure!

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