Top Camping Spots in Arizona

Katelyn Preston March 25, 2016

A list about camping sites is never—and we mean, never—complete without a mention of the amazing campsites in and around the Grand Canyon. But there’s so much more to our state when it comes to camping hotspots. In fact, we’re home to some of the most spectacular campgrounds in the country. So if you’ve been waiting to enjoy being outdoors in the vast Arizona wilderness, here are a few suggestions for where you can set up camp under the stars.

Lockett Meadow

If you want a real mountain camping experience, this is it. Offering an outstanding view of the San Francisco Peaks and its surrounding wilderness of the Coconino National Forest in Flagstaff, this campsite has a raw and rustic charm, unlike the more “cultivated” ones. Being one of the less-crowded sites, it’s easy to spot wild animals such as porcupines, elk, and an occasional black bear.

The Coconic National Forest has more information about Lockett Meadow.

Woods Canyon Lake

For those looking to camp in cooler temps during the sweltering summer months, Woods Canyon Lake offers the perfect escape. Nestled in a thick forested area on the Mogollon Rim near Payson, this campground is spacious and close to many forest lakes in the area. Hiking isn’t too physically demanding so you can easily explore the various scenic lookouts. Besides, there are plenty of other activities including boating, canoeing, fishing etc. One word of caution: the spots fill up pretty quick, so reserve your spot early! 

KP Cienega Campground

At about 9,000 feet of elevation, this is one of Arizona’s highest campgrounds, which also makes it an ideal summer camping destination. If you’re looking for a spot for those family camping trips where you’re always worried about the kids getting bored yet you want a secluded little piece of camper’s heaven, this is for you!

There’s a beautiful stretch of meadow where kids can play while you soak up the beauty of the landscape full of ferns, pines, and Colorado blue and Engelmann spruces. Plus, there are several hiking trails in the surrounding White Mountains where the campground is located.

The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest website has more info about the KP Cienega Campground.

Fool Hollow Lake Campground

Have you always wanted to enjoy camping yet fear of wild animals or the possibilities of not having shower for a few days kept you from doing it? Well, this may be an ideal place to start your camping adventure. Fool Hollow Lake Campground witnesses a lot of human activity, which is why it’s unlikely you’d run into a wild animal easily. Also, paved roads, flush toilets, showers, potable water, grills, and other nearby amenities make this place a great choice for first-time campers.

Canyon Point Campground

Another great site for beginners, The Canyon Point campground is located in the scenic Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in north central Arizona. Despite having amenities like electricity, restrooms, showers, potable water, etc., the heavily wooded landscape offers a great camping experience. Among other activities, you can enjoy trout fishing, hiking, and boating.

A drive about 35 miles east of Payson via Highway 260 will take you to this campground but remember, you need to make your reservations well ahead of your trip.   

Catalina State Park

If your idea of camping involves deserts and mountainous terrains, it can’t get any better than Catalina State Park. A bunch of hiking trails offer many ways to explore the site while a landscape dotted with saguaro cactus against the backdrop of the enchanting Santa Catalina range is a sight straight out of a travel magazine. Wildlife appears often enough so if you’re fond of into-the-wild sort of camping, we highly recommend this one!

What camping spots in Arizona are your favorite? Of those listed here, where are you most excited to camp? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!