Greatest Tenting in Arizona: Good Campgrounds & Spots to Go to Proper Now
Sometimes “nature” is an understatement.
As the world grapples with current reality, nature has become a welcome respite. Cycling is on the rise. RVs became mobile motels for a new breed of travelers. And camping (and clamping) is a popular weekend activity for backcountry enthusiasts and newbies alike. When fall is in full swing, Arizona might be the ideal camping destination.
With its wildly diverse wilderness, the state is a huge playground for campers of all kinds, whether you’re looking for a trip to one of the most famous national parks in the country or one of the most underrated. Here you can discover breathtaking views after a long hike or simply by driving off the road. Here you will find red rock deserts and dense forests, waterfalls and arid pools … and much of it is year round. Whether you’re fleeing Phoenix or want to stop for a while in the middle of a month-long trip, these are the Arizona campsites that you must visit.
Gail Reyes / EyeEm / getty images
This wonderland of rocks is nestled in the Chiricahuas Mountains in southern Arizona, where incredible towering geological formations encompass the unfamiliar landscape around Bonita Campground. There are many accessible hiking trails, caves and rhyolite rocks to discover here. But the incredibly dark sky steals the show, according to Amy C. Oliver, a public affairs officer for the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory and ambassador for the NASA / JPL Solar System.
“When I stepped out of the tent into the darkness in the Chiricahuas, I was sure that I was stepping straight into the night sky,” says Oliver. “The thickness of the stars and the Milky Way was almost palpable. Here the Milky Way and Zodiac lights are known to grace the sky, and it’s one of the few places that remains at the very bottom of the light pollution scale, meaning the darkness that You experience the truest darkness of all. You can’t be much more perfect observing night skies unless you have a rocket. “
MORE: Check out this collection of (inter) stellar star observation points in the USA
Petrified Forest National Park, Homolovi State Park
Want to get away? How really gone This stand-alone backcountry cabin is just outside the boundaries of Petrified Forest National Park – known for its colorful badlands and impressive nighttime stargazing operations – and is as far away as possible. Equipped with just the right amount of amenities, the secluded escape offers an idyllic experience for seasoned backcountry campers looking for some solitude. Getting there is an adventure in itself: the hut can be reached by off-road vehicles or by hiking from the neighboring park.
MORE: Before you reach a national park, check what is actually open
Under canvas / Bailey Made
Leave your camping gear at home: Under Canvas, the Grand Canyon has all the camp-ready amenities you need, including organic bath products and S’Mores items. This glampground is just outside of Arizona’s incredibly scenic Grand Canyon National Park. Located on 160 acres of juniper and piñon forest, it offers a variety of upscale accommodations, including suites with a king-size bed and safari-style tents fitted with wood. burning stoves. The remote location is ideal for night stargazing. And since you’re rested from sleeping on a plush bed, you’ll wake up ready to tackle this edge-to-edge hike.
MORE: What You Should Know Before Visiting The Grand Canyon This Year
Tonto National Forest
When he’s not on the clock, Chef Brett Vibber of Wild Arizona Cuisine can hunt for morels somewhere in the Arizona wilderness or cook around a campfire. Top of his list of favorite campsites: Workman Creek in the Tonto National Forest.
“There are three campsites below the waterfalls on the right-hand side of the road. For those with all-wheel drive, it is possible and very rewarding to drive over the falls, ”says Vibber. “The road continues to Aztec Peak, where you have a 360 ° view of Four Peaks, Roosevelt Lake, the Mogollon Rim and the White Mountains. The summit itself has a number of ancient ruins if you take the time to explore. Here we collect morel mushrooms in spring and grapes, raspberries, blackberries, mint and apples in autumn. “
Arcosanti was designed by the Italian architect Palo Soleroi and began as an experimental project: a kind of model for a utopian sustainable life. That mission of the 1970s is still true today. Arcosanti is located in Arizona’s high desert, about 70 miles north of Phoenix, and serves as a 24/7 municipal laboratory. It plays an important role in the conversation about environmental protection and inspires research and promotes education for cultural change.
Arcosanti’s small resident population practices urban agriculture and arcology (the fusion of architecture and ecology) and offers curious visitors a range of unique workshops and public programs. Pry? Book a campsite at Minds Garden and see for yourself what happens in this urban laboratory. During your stay you have full access to all public areas (hello, pool!) And the opportunity to take part in community events.
MORE: These are the most beautiful places in Arizona
Kyle Ledeboer / Aurora Photos / getty images
Mogollon Edge, Coconino National Forest
“The Mogollon Rim is great for any type of RV,” says ex-Arizona resident Van Lifer and travel blogger Kate Moore. “The road to The Rim is paved and not very winding, so you can easily bring a motorhome upstairs. There is a paved walking path along the edge that offers some fantastic views. It’s relatively flat and easy to walk for anyone. The best thing about it is the weather: due to the geographic location, the breeze is fresh, so it stays pretty cool all year round. And the lack of moisture means there are hardly any insects. “
MORE: Just going camping? Read this before you set off.
Located just minutes from Phoenix by the peach grove of Schnepf Farms, Cozy Peach offers nearby townspeople and hikers the opportunity to get outside and reconnect with nature without leaving behind too many of the conveniences of modern life. The renovated retro Airstreams come with air-conditioning (because, Arizona), plush beds, lovely bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, and everything you need to make morning coffee. Each “campsite” has its own front garden made of real grass, a brick terrace as well as an individual fireplace and a barbecue grill. In addition to the breathtaking panoramic view of the San Tan Mountains, you will find freshly baked goodies just around the corner, such as the best peach cake you will ever have.
MORE: 12 Glamping Experiences That Will Help You Get Comfortably “rough”
HagePhoto / getty images
Jonathan Buford of Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. is a craft beer and conservation advocate and knows the outskirts of Arizona. When asked, Jonathan enthusiastically shared his favorite places to camp in Grand Canyon State, one of which is a short drive from Downtown Phoenix Beer Garden in Arizona Wilderness.
“Take the first waterway in the wilderness of superstition to the Garden Valley,” he says. “Chollas and saguaros are so numerous here and the wildflowers will be dazzling. Remember, Leave No Trace is not a hashtag. It’s a way of life. Be a guest and just watch. It is our duty to protect the wonderful! ”
Would you like to explore the wilderness of superstition without having to forego flushing the toilet and running water? Reserve a campsite at the Lost Dutchman Campground. The developed campsite within the boundaries of Lost Dutchman State Park is car-camping and mobile home-friendly and offers easy access to the most popular network of trails in the region.
MORE: Actually cool things that you can (still) do in Phoenix
Pete Lomchid / Moment / getty images
Monument Valley is basically the image that comes to mind when someone who is not from Arizona thinks of Arizona. It is undoubtedly the picture of the American Southwest. And not only can you visit the legendary sandstone buttons, but you can also camp outside the park boundaries. The View Campground lives up to its name: equipped with RV sites and wilderness campsites, it is located on the cliff side of the park, which undoubtedly results in an impeccable sunrise view to enjoy with your instant camp coffee.
MORE: Go across the border to see what Utah has to offer (hint: it’s beautiful)
Peter Unger / Stein / getty images
Coconino National Forest
Just outside of Flagstaff and just a few minutes from Sunset Crater Volcano is this campsite – named after the Bonito Lava Flow – with cinder cones, lava caves and petrified stone bubbles that give it a seemingly otherworldly appearance. And according to Klaus Brasch, a member of the Coconino Astronomical Society (CAS), the area is also ideal for incredible night stargazing, thanks in large part to Flagstaff’s designation as the first international city for dark skies.
“This means that you can enjoy a spectacular view of the Milky Way with the naked eye, which most large cities cannot see at all these days,” says Brasch. “Telescopically you can see many of the gems of astronomy, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies. You can also enjoy meteor showers and great views of the moon. The area is also an astrophotographer’s paradise, as you can imagine. “
“When you come here, avoid any time near or around the full moon that washes away a lot of other weaker objects,” he adds.
MORE: Here’s a handy guide to stargazing this month
Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona
Sedona’s impressive selection of vantage points, hiking trails and unbeatable year-round landscapes is ideal for a small campfire. Step into Pine Flat, a postcard-perfect campsite in Oak Creek Canyon set against a backdrop of orange, red-hued rocks and towering Ponderosa pines, just 12 miles from Sedona’s city limits. This high-traffic destination is just a stone’s throw from Slide Rock State Park. Here, adventure seekers will find a popular swimming hole and an incredible natural waterslide that offers an exhilarating white knuckle ride that stretches 80 feet over a smooth sandstone surface.
MORE: 12 Incredible Natural Water Slides Through America
Lauren Topor Reichert is a thrillist, avid camper and S’Mores connoisseur who prefers her marshmallow treats that are specially roasted.