Top 10 Best Camping Spots in Arizona to Try This Summer
We love our beautiful state of Arizona. We’re one of the few lucky states who have it all: majestic red rocks, blankets of starry skies, towering forests, snow-capped mountains, and the Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural world wonders.
How does one choose where to park their RV or set their tent up? We’ve scoured review sites, traveler photos, and polled locals to come up with these top 10 best camping sites in Arizona:
Best known for being one of the most famous ‘wild west’ backdrops in Hollywood productions, Monument Valley boasts stunning landscapes you have to see to appreciate. The majestic fragile pinnacles, shifting red sands, and cultural depth will have you spellbound.
Peak season runs April 1 – September 30th with moderate temperatures from the mid 50s to the mid 80s. At only $20 per night, you can experience the untouched lands of the Navajo reservation, and still afford to take one of their acclaimed scenic tours only accessible with a Navajo escort.
Off the 89, just north of Flagstaff, awaits blankets of starry night skies to fall asleep beneath. Now if you just looked at the Google photos, you’d see hardened volcanic lava pouring out of holes. It doesn’t look very appealing. With SP Crater standing about 800 feet high, with no trail, the hike is a little tougher, but absolutely worth the expansive views once you arrive. Make sure to pack plenty of water, warm sleeping bags, trekking poles, and a tent!
Photo by: Kevin Kaminski
Lost Dutchman State Park is located near the Superstition Mountains, about 40 miles from Phoenix. This place was built for visitors, boasting about 134 campsites, completed with picnic tables, firepits, electric and water hookups, shower facilities, dishwashing stations, and even a gift shop!
There are several hiking and bike trails, ranging from mild to intermediate, allowing everyone of all skill levels to enjoy the Superstition wilderness.
Best known for its wondrous walk-through caverns, Kartchner Caverns State Park now offers up cabin stays for the less-adventurous outdoor enthusiast. For about $90 per night, you and up to 5 additional guests can stay in one of their cabins located right outside the park entrance.
Canyon de Chelly is a colorful, ancient place that has been inhabited for over 6,000 years by both Navajo and Anasazi peoples. As you walk through the over 7,000 year-old ruins from the Anasazi, you’re bound to be stunned. There are impressive cliff dwellings visible from the rim that are worth seeing.
The overlook offers up 300 degree views into several cave systems at 1,000 feet above the floor. Spider Rock is a 800 foot tall spire of solid sandstone that is just breathtaking. In the Navajo legend, Mother Spider descended from here and taught the first peoples how to weave.
Because of its sacred and ancient history, hiking and backpacking without a local guide is prohibited except for one area of the canyon maintained by William Storyteller, at Spider Rock Campground.
Make sure to call ahead during busier warmer months!
Horton Springs has been dubbed one of the most spectacular hikes in Arizona’s Rim Country. Located in Payson, the hike is about 7 miles round trip, depending on your urge to explore the waterfall-laden landscape. You’ll find an abundance of waterfalls, wild berries, and springs throughout your hike. The first 1.4 miles are a gentle incline, while the next 3 miles have many ups and downs. You’ll gain about 1,200 feet in elevation as you climb up, but don’t let that stop you. The trails are easy to follow, and you’ll be in awe the entire way.
Right here in our own backyard lies the rocky jungle of Watson Lake. The sunsets are incredible, and the rocky terrain provides a unique scene. The park includes boat launches, showers, playground, picnic areas with grills, as well as boat and kayak rentals.
Crazy scenic views for sunsets and sunrises will take your breath away at Red Rock. You really need a 4WD vehicle due to the treacherous curves and rocky terrain, and keep a wary eye out for the elk!
9. Lockett Meadow
Photo: Kelly Vaughn Kramer
This beautiful campground offers up scenic views of the San Francisco Peaks, with several wilderness residents such as elk, porcupine, and even the occasional black bear. If you love a real mountain camping experience and hiking wilderness trails. This campsite is $16 per night (up to 8 people) and the season opens May 5th!
Of course we couldn’t omit the jaw-dropping beauty of Havasupai Falls. Unlike the other camping spots mentioned earlier, you’ve got to really work to see the majestic falls. This 20 mile will take about 2-3 days to complete, so make sure you have enough food, water, and the proper gear before setting out. Keep in mind that people can book campsites up to 3 months in advance, so make sure you plan now before it gets too crowded!
Have you visited any locations on our list of best camping spots in Arizona? Which ones should have made the list?