One of the many things that make camping in Arizona so unique is the endless views — and the heat is unforgettable. Though brimming with stunning desert landscapes, Arizona has more than a thousand different iterations of the Saguaro cactus and red rocks.
Because of the landscape’s glory, Arizona is one of the most desirable camping, glamping, and RVing destinations in the United States. Of course, it’s also home to the Grand Canyon, one of the world’s seven natural wonders. The 277-mile-long ravine is a mile deep and 18 miles wide, so don’t get too cocky about gazing that thing in the face. Around 6 million people visit this national park each year, so get ready to get friendly!
Tent Camping in Arizona
Camping underneath the big Arizona sky is truly an experience. Pitching a tent to enjoy the full view of the night sky and waking up to the gold desert stretching as far as the eye can see is a sight to behold.
Tens of thousands of campers come to rough it in the Arizona desert each year, and with a bit of planning and prep work, you can create the camping trip of a lifetime. Plan your trip during late winter and early spring to beat summer and fall crowds.
Several campgrounds near Grand Canyon National Park offer great amenities for tent campers while being close to the park entrance. Experience one of the true natural wonders of the world from either the North or South Rim, at campgrounds with stunning night sky views, clean and modern bathhouses and restrooms, and secluded sites to make you feel as if you’re entirely alone.
What to Bring for Tent Camping in Arizona
Before going tent camping in Arizona, you’ll want to plan accordingly. The weather in the Grand Canyon state shifts dramatically from night to day, so pack plenty of clothes for warm and cool weather. Likewise, pack extra water for the blistering desert heat during the daytime.
Tent campers know nothing beats sitting around a campfire after a long day of outdoor activities, but some places in Arizona don’t allow campfires. Be sure to check with where you are staying about any burn restrictions that may be in place. The Arizona desert gets cold at night, so you’ll want a backup emergency blanket if there’s no fire.
Coyotes, black bears, and javelina call Arizona their home. While making it yours, be sure you have bear-proof storage for your food and medications, as well as bear spray and an air horn. Most of the time, any predators in the area will leave with a simple honk of the horn, but having backup spray is crucial if you’re far from town.
Glamping in Arizona
With so many places built for glamping in Arizona, one would think the state invented the concept! Glamping is a relatively new term for those who want to bring extra comfort and pizazz to traditional tent camping. Many glamping resorts in the state feature amenities like butler service, private decks and firepits, climate-controlled sleeping quarters, and stunning vista views.
You can also find other glamping spots throughout the state that offer a more traditional camping feel with the amenities of a comfy bed and a hot shower. These camping and glamping hybrid stays are becoming more popular for those who want to feel closer to nature without leaving behind too much comfort.
Because glamping is still essentially in a tent, you’ll want to bring bear-proof food storage containers, bear spray, and other predator repellants for your trip. Winter camping in Arizona is a great way to avoid the busy animal seasons and reduce your chances of an encounter.
What to Bring on Your Glamping Trip
Unlike traditional tent camping, most glamping resorts and parks take care of the hard part for you. With fully furnished yurts or cabins, linens, towels, and even electricity, there’s hardly a need to bring anything but clothes and toiletries for your glamping experience.
Like with tent camping, be sure to bring clothes for layering to combat the weather if you plan on adventuring outside. Also, check with your chosen glamp-ground to learn what is not included in your stay.
If you’re planning on bringing any pets along on your trip, check in with your camp host or glamp-ground office. Some places allow pets, while others are not pet-friendly.
Full Hookup RV Camping in Arizona
RV camping is one of the top ways to visit Arizona, and there’s no surprise why! With empty roads stretching for miles, there is a scenic drive perfect for every RV, no matter your rig. Full hookup RV camping features specially designed campsites with water tanks, dump stations, and electrical hookups on your campsite. Full hookup sites mean no waiting in line for hours to dump your black water to get back on the road.
RVing through Arizona on extended road trips is easy, thanks to the sheer volume of available camping space. Need to stop and rest for the night between campsites? Just pull over! Most places throughout the state allow RVs to stay overnight. There are no amenities or electrical hookups when camping this way, so you shouldn’t plan to park too long.
If you don’t already own an RV and are on the fence about getting one, renting an RV is a great way to explore the idea. RV ownership is higher than ever, and many options are available to fit your size and needs.
What to Bring on Your Arizona RV Trip
RVing across Arizona is a great way to experience a large area of the state if you are short on time. However, just like tent camping and glamping, there are a few things you should remember to bring on your next Arizona RV trip.
Clothes for layering again top the list of what to bring while camping in Arizona. Whether you’re RVing, tent camping, or glamping, the weather swings 20–30 degrees from daytime to nighttime. That shift means that 60 degrees can feel extremely cold if you’ve been in the 100-degree heat all day.
Other essential items to bring with you on your Arizona road trip are an emergency kit for your RV, a first aid kit, extra propane for your tank, plenty of excess water, a spare tire, and emergency flares. You’ll also want to perform a routine maintenance check before heading out in your rig.
Things to Do While Camping in Arizona
One thing is sure about the Grand Canyon state: there are plenty of things to do for all ages across Arizona. Hike or bike through winding trails, take an afternoon horseback ride across a river, grab your climbing gear and find a few boulders, or leisurely take in the sights of the surrounding beauty.
Let’s discover a few of the best places for excellent and unique experiences you can have on your next trip camping in Arizona.
Each year, millions of visitors delight in hiking through Arizona’s natural beauty. With 31 state parks and 24 national park sites, Arizona features over 1,500 miles of park trails, perfect for any hiking plans. The trails range from easy to extreme and paved to unpaved, so anyone can experience the beauty of a day hike no matter where you are in the state.
Both expert and novice hikers will find a path for their experience level along the Arizona Scenic National Trail. This 800-mile trail stretches from the US–Mexico border to Utah. The course features many smaller side trails that cater to everyone’s needs. Some are ADA accessible and open to strollers, wheelchairs, and pets on a leash.
Some trails require an entrance fee, especially in and around Grand Canyon National Park. Check with the rangers to learn more about day passes and hiking fees.
Thanks to many days of sunshine and warm weather, Arizona is home to thousands of pristine bike paths that wind through the state. Whether you’re close to city centers or in the middle of nowhere, chances are good that there is a bike path nearby.
For true bike enthusiasts, hit the road to Mt. Lemmon, near Tuscan. This 30-mile ride is grueling but arguably the most scenic in the state. Be sure to layer your clothing for this ride. The temperature drops in the higher altitudes, which makes for cold weather!
If you’re looking for a more leisurely ride, the Arizona Canal Path takes you along 10 miles of cyclist-only trails through the city of Phoenix. The bike trail is highly safe and recommended for biking with small kids.
Arizona is one of the most photographed states in the nation. Take one trip to discover the beauty of the Grand Canyon state, and it’s easy to see why. Stunning vistas, rocks seemingly sprouting from nowhere, and wildlife as far as the eye can see pepper the landscape in Arizona.
Photographers, either professionals or amateurs, can delight in Arizona’s sheer number of photographic opportunities. Spend a day at the Grand Canyon snapping photos of Cape Royal or Point Imperial at sunrise, Walhalla Overlook at sunset, and Hopi Point at high noon for a panoramic masterpiece.
Explore the west as if you were on a cattle drive when you bring your stock to explore the great outdoors. Horseback riding is very popular in Arizona, with many trails and campgrounds catering to their equine guests. In fact, it may be easier to find camping with stables than without.
Popular horseback riding locations in Arizona include Cave Creek Regional Park, Estrella Park, and Grand Canyon National Park. If you don’t plan to bring your stock or don’t own horses, there are many campgrounds and resorts offering horseback riding excursions through many parks and along many trails.
Before you load your horse trailer, check the local and state regulations and your campgrounds’ rules surrounding horses. Many campgrounds and parks have specific equine requirements, such as weed-free feed, current vaccinations, and a recent negative Coggins test.
Rock climbers will delight in how many opportunities there are to set a wedge and experience Arizona from above. Whether you’re a sport or trad climber or you prefer bouldering, Arizona is filled with places to climb. The most popular climbing spot is, of course, the Grand Canyon. The Bright Angel Trail is loaded with places to climb, no matter your experience level. This trail is heavily populated, so early morning or late evening trips are recommended.
If you’re near Flagstaff, check out The Pit and Peaks Crag. The Pit is a steep limestone crag popular with climbers, and Peaks Crag is a massive volcanic structure perfect for climbing.
At 9,000 feet above sea level and dotted with 1,500 climbing locations, Mt. Lemmon is a local favorite for climbers and boulderers. Whether a beginner or a pro climber, there is a spot for everyone to flex their muscles and ropes.
Critical Takeaways for Planning Your Next Arizona Camping Trip
Whether you’re glamping with air conditioning, taking an RV road trip across the state, or sleeping under the starry sky in the desert, there are a few things to remember when planning your next outdoor getaway to Arizona. Here are some pro tips to make your next trip to the Grand Canyon State unforgettable.
Pack clothes for layering. No matter your outdoor style, the weather in Arizona always calls for layering.
Check with the state and national parks about fees for entry, parking, equestrian activities, climbing, or swimming.
Always store food in bear-proof containers. Arizona is home to a large black bear population.
Be prepared for crowds at popular attractions. Between 10 and 12 million visitors explore the state each year, and those Instagram-worthy photo spots at your favorite parks usually have long waiting lines.
Ensure your pet is welcome at your campsite before bringing your best friend. Pets are welcome at most state and national parks, but they must be on a 6 ft leash at all times.
Bring extra water and face coverings if you plan on being in the desert during the daytime. Temperatures can turn deadly if you are not adequately prepared with enough water, and unforeseen dust clouds can trigger allergy attacks.
No matter where or how you choose to see the Arizona outdoors, be sure to pack in, pack out, and leave no trace.
What is the best time of year to camp in Arizona?
Late winter and early spring are the two best seasons for camping in Arizona.
What outdoor activities are there to do in Arizona?
Hiking, rock climbing, and horseback riding are some of the most popular activities to experience in the Grand Canyon State.
How many state and national parks are in Arizona?
There are 24 national park sites and 31 state parks in Arizona.
Can I rock climb in the Grand Canyon?
Yes. There are several designated climbing areas located mainly along the south rim.