There isn’t another state quite like Arizona. That’s especially true if you love camping in some of the most breathtaking locales not only in the United States, but in the world as well. The varied landscape and gorgeous scenery you know and love about Arizona is concentrated in resplendent fashion in the state’s most scenic campgrounds.
The problem with Arizona is the problem of too much – there’s simply too much campground goodness to choose from if you’re looking for an eye-opening campaign adventure. Luckily we’ve decided to do a lot of the legwork for you, paring down dozens upon dozens of camping contenders to give you our definitive list of the 8 Best Places To Camp In Arizona.
1) Mather Campground (Grand Canyon South Rim)
Open all year long as opposed to the much more elevated north side which only allows campers from mid-May to Halloween, the South Rim’s Mather Campground is the perfect entry point to the Grand Canyon’s most beloved affects, trails and historical sites. While it fills up quite quickly during the Memorial Day weekend crush, it’s worth finding a way in for sheer beauty and ease of access.
While the Grand Canyon is flooded with tourist during normal day hours, it’s a completely different experience when camping overnight. The sounds are different, the views are more unobstructed, and the splendor of one of the world’s most undeniable natural wonders is amplified. Mather Campground is the perfect place to experience this while also giving you the opportunity to do all the tourist things you may want to do.
2) Lake Havasu State Park (Lake Havasu)
This one’s a bit off the board for traditional campers. Lake Havasu is far from a serene camping locale. In fact, we don’t recommend camping here unless you want to be part of the vibrant experience with other campers looking to socialize and enjoy themselves. However, it’s a truly unique Arizona camping experience through and through with beautiful campsites situated right along the beach.
You can’t beat the way the lake waters look in the early morning or the stunning hilly backdrop. And if you’re an avid boater looking to hang out with your kind, the summer months at Lake Havasu are the perfect place to fill up your circle of boating friends. Each of the campsites at Lake Havasu State Park come complete with electricity hookups and water, so you won’t be roughing it in the least.
3) Bonita Canyon Campground (Chiricahua National Monument)
If you are near the Arizona/Mexico border and want respite from the long, hot summer days and nights, Bonita Canyon Campground has you covered. Gorgeous views of the massive rock formations of the Chiricahuas are complemented by lower temperatures thanks to the campsites sitting at an elevation of over 5,000 feet. Sweltering heat just doesn’t swelter the same at the Bonita Canyon Campground, and that’s awesome.
Bonita Canyon Campground is simply a hikers’ paradise. The multitude of hiking trails on the mountainside offer so much to look at from towering trees to unique stone formations which are as mesmerizing as they are impressive. The campsites are also divided well by the forest, allowing those looking for an escape to limit social interaction with other campers.
4) Cave Springs Campground (Sedona)
Sedona is a beautiful place to visit with saguaros and gorgeous rock formations dotting the landscape and visually amazing showstoppers like Oak Creek Canyon to be seen and experienced. Camping in Sedona is an absolute must for the true Arizona camping heart and Cave Springs Campground gives you access to the Sedona experience while being far enough away (20 minutes) for a much calmer overall locale.
Situated in a gorgeous valley with stunning trees and an unmatched view of Oak Creek Canyon’s walls on the far western side, Cave Springs Campground offers 89 sites which are generous in size and sit far away from the loudness of the relatively adjacent highway. You can easily get into Sedona itself and see everything one of Arizona’s criminally unsung towns has to offer.
5) Lynx Campground (Prescott)
Lynx Lake is a popular spot for Arizona lake lovers and Lynx Campground is the perfect place for campers to get their recreational fill while also enjoying some needed peace and quiet. Bird watchers will especially love Lynx Campground, as will those looking for a wide swath of mountain biking and hiking trails.
At an elevation of over 5,600 feet, Lynx Campground doesn’t suffer from the stifling heat of some other Arizona campgrounds during the summer months. It’s also just a ten-minute drive away from Prescott, so you’re never that far away from supplies or city amenities if you want a change of pace. The 35 sites at Lynx Campground are spaced so well that privacy is never an issue, but you may have to contend with a full occupancy during the busier touristy months.
6) Gilbert Ray Campground (Tucson)
You won’t believe your eyes when you reach this beautiful campground just 15 minutes outside the hustle and bustle of Tucson. It truly feels like you’ve completely left the city life behind even though you’re just a short drive away. A big part of that comes from the mountain range to the east which blocks view of Tucson and really cements the feeling of being smack dab in the middle of the wilderness.
The hiking near the Gilbert Ray Campground is second to none when it comes to Arizona campsites. You owe it to yourself to hike the Valley View Overlook trail which will result in the widest eyes and hundreds of Instagram-worthy photo opportunities. There’s 130 sites in the campground with abundant water supplies and electricity hookups. Simply put, this is a city-adjacent oasis.
7) Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (Ajo)
The campgrounds adjacent to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument provide the quintessential Arizona camping experience. For those who fell in love with the idea of camping in Arizona thanks to the tropes of sleeping under the stars in an idyllic desert setting, these campgrounds near the Mexican border offer a very close parallel.
The wonderful weird organ pipe cactus are just one of the amazing pieces of desert scenery which makes this a must-camp for the true Arizona wanderer. Simply put, the lushness and greenery is perfectly counterbalanced by the mountains and vastness of the desert. Hiking around the campground is second to none for those looking to expand their minds while expanding their lungs.
8) Bonito Campground (Flagstaff)
Bonito Campground is a beautiful Arizona oddity which trades the normal desert landscape for volcanic rock formations and lush greenery. If you’re looking for a campground with a wealth of unique photo opportunities, you can’t be all of the huge cinder cones and wild rock towers which are just a skip and a hop away from the Bonito Campground.
There’s some amazing historical delving to be done in the area with downtown Flagstaff just a few miles away and the centuries-old Native American settlements of Wupatki within hiking range. Tropical flair mixes with cooler weather thanks to the higher elevation, making Bonito Campground a complete Arizona camping outlier that you’ll be talking about for years to come.
Arizona is for campers, that’s to be sure. The sheer amount of aesthetic marvels in campgrounds around the Grand Canyon State, including the Grand Canyon itself, make it a bucket list state for any serious camping aficionado looking for experiences to remember.
If you can make it to just one of the eight Arizona campgrounds above, your love of camping will likely reach new heights in relation to your surroundings.