Arizona's state parks have so many great places to camp, and you can have your pick of scenery, campground type, and adventure. Are you looking for the best tent camping options, or will you be traveling in an RV? Would you prefer a campground near water, or maybe you prefera campsite with amazing Arizona views? There are great options for weekend activities, road trips from your home base, and plenty of adventure in any of the parks during your camping trip, regardless of season!
In Arizona, there are several distinct camping options in numerous habitat typesacross the state. Summer spots, winter spots, in-between spots too…Each region really puts its best foot forward depending time of year. We have a bunch of great optionsin very different parts of the Grand Canyon State. The next time you decide to go camping in beautiful Arizona, use this resource to help narrow down your choices while picking the Arizona state park that’s right for you!
Best tent and RV camping in Arizona –Northern Region
Wouldn’t it be great if both the best tent and RV camping in northern Arizona could be found in one centralized location? Well…it can, and it's near water to help you cool off, play or catch some dinner! Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood is a great place to call home for a weekend or a week. There are several exciting recreation options as well as full-service tent and RV campgrounds near the water. If you want a different camping experience, try staying in one of the cozy camping cabins. Plan your trip and make your reservations today!
Recreation options –Dead Horse Ranch State Park and beyond
Everyone is different, we get that!With several great recreation options to entertain you, Dead Horse Ranch State Park truly has a chance to make the whole family happy. You just can’t go camping in Arizona without hiking and exploring the beautiful surroundings. There are numerous hiking trails throughout Dead Horse Ranch that showcase the beauty of the Verde Valley! You can enjoya leisurely strollor heavy workout–the best part is that you get to choose your own adventure! Want to hike near the Verde River and experience the dense vegetation, diverse wildlife, and cool, damp breeze? Or hike north into the high desert and experience epic Verde River Valley Views. With numerous trails throughout this park, there really is something for every skill level. Hike or bike your way into adventure within the shared-use trails systems in the park, and leave with lifetime memories of a new experience.
Other recreation options within the park include horseback rides (in season), fishing, and bird/wildlife watching, although your options really increase when you stay longer and visit other nearby parks. Dead Horse Ranch State Park can be used as a central hub while exploring the other nearby parks in Sedona, Camp Verde, and Jerome. Read on to learn more aboutthese north central Arizona parks before planning your trip.
Sedona, Arizona is considered by many to be one of the most scenic locales in the northern hemisphere, and weagree! The red rocks carved out from millions of years’ worth of erosion are a sight to be seen, and can be experienced by visiting either Red Rockor Slide Rock state parks. Each of these Sedona, Ariz. parks creates its own unique experience in a classically beautiful slice of Arizona. Hike the trails at Red Rock either by day or during a moonlight hike. Try spending your morning hiking the crimson trails at Red Rock and then heading up to Oak Creek Canyon to experience the higher elevation scenery of Slide Rock State Park. In fall, you can stroll through the beautiful apple orchards, picnic,or explore the park on one of the three choice trails.
Arizona’s recreation choices take upon many forms, and for some, the historical parks offer a great way tolearn about Arizona's rich history. From Dead Horse Ranch, both Jerome and Fort Verde historicstate parks serve upinteresting (and sometimes creepy)information about Arizona's past. While in Jerome, learn about the rise and fall of a unique little mining town, the Douglas family, and the rough way of life during the heyday of the Little Daisy Mine.
Only about 45 minutes down the road, Fort Verde State Historic Park is the location of an Army outpost that housed troops of military personnel for the protection of settlers from local Native American tribes. Thefirst-hand artifacts, including medical tools, typical furniture,and examples of toys,showcase a different way of life and really help you enjoy what you have now! It’s easy to get lost in the history at Fort Verde.
Best tent and RV camping in Arizona –Southern Region
Southern Arizona boasts campgrounds at parks near water, near mountains, and near world-famous caves! A short trip from Phoenix or Tucson places you in a destination sure to make your weekend getaway something you'll want to do again and again. Starting at Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction and heading all the way to Patagonia Lake State Park at the southern tip of the state, you can choose from seven amazing camping destinations, all with a choice of tent orRV camping. Plus, three parks feature beautiful camping cabins to bring some comfort of the indoors to the outdoors. There's even some great summer camping opportunities in these desert parks, so pick a spot and go...regardless of season!
Recreation Opportunities– Find your park!
No matter what type of activities and scenery you're looking for, southern Arizona has it! Lost Dutchman State Parksits at the base of the impressive Superstition Mountains and offers challenging hikes, gorgeous views, wildlife watching, tent and RV camping, and brand-new camping cabins. Lost Dutchman also offers plenty of events to keep the kids entertained and you enthralled –from nighttime scorpion hunts to star parties and guided hikes. You can spend your days hiking, biking, and exploring before experiencing the park in the glow of the stars. Plus, Lost Dutchman is a short drive from Phoenix, but with the backdrop that will make you feel a million miles from the city!
As you head further south, stay for awhile at Picacho Peak State Park. The iconic mountain offers a sweeping view both north and south– if you can endure a difficult climb (with ropes) to the top. But even if you are looking for a more leisurely hike, Picacho Peak offers it all. There are 85 campsites to choose from, and you can enjoy the park from your tent or your RV. In spring, wildflowers abound at the base of the mountain, making a sweeping orange carpet of poppies.
Once you reach Tucson, you can rest your head at Catalina State Park, right at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Experience the beauty of more than 5,000 saguaros, or test your birdwatching skills with the more than 150 species of birds that call the park home. Catalina offers horseback riding, amazing hiking trails, wildlife viewing, and campgrounds for tents or RVs. There are twice-monthly family-friendly concerts here too.Make Catalina your weekend home and take a day trip to Oracle State Park, just 35 minutes away. Oracle is adesignatedDark Sky Park and has great star parties, and you can explore the historic Kannally Ranch House during the day. Plus, Oracle State Park connects to the renowned Arizona Trailand has a wide-range of multi-use trails for you to explore.
Continue south to Kartchner Caverns State Parkin Benson, where there's more to do than tour the cave! There are plenty of above-ground opportunities for fun at Kartchner, including tent and RV camping, camping cabins, a brand-new trail, and dark sky star parties. Kartchner's desert scrub scenes at the foot of the Whetstone Mountains provide an excellent view from your campsite. Plus, nights are cooling down now and the monsoon rains have eliminated fire restrictions. Roast your marshmallows over the campfire and enjoy a few days at the "Best Arizona Attraction." If you stay longer than a day, you can squeeze in tours of both rooms of the cave!
If you'd like to head east a bit, venture to Roper Lake State Park and Dankworth Pond State Parknear Safford. The 15-acre lake is perfect for fishing, and you can set up camp at lakeside electric (for RVs), tent sites, orin one of eight comfy cabins right on the water. The trails are great way to get ina fun nature walk–but remember your binoculars! Roper Lake and Dankworth Pond both offer perfect fall weather and a wide-range of wildlife to view. If you're lucky, you might even catch your dinner fishing!
At the very bottom of the state, you can camp in one of Arizona's hidden gems, Patagonia Lake State Park. This park, along with its neighbor, Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, has some of the best bird-watching, boating, relaxing and camping in the southern region! Brand-new camping cabins overlook the lake, or you can choose from 105 campsites for tents or RVs, all within walking distance of a beautifulwhite-sand beach. If you travel by water, boat-in campsites are also available.Trails wind through the park and the adjacent natural area, and you can take the opportunity to catch sight of birds, including hummingbirds;white-tail deer; javelina; or other small mammals. Patagonia Lake is a great family park, with lots of entertainment and a special swimming section in the lake. Stay for awhile and venture out to two nearby historic parks– Tubac Presidio and Tombstone Courthouse state historic parks.
Best tent and RV camping in Arizona –Western Region
The "west coast" of Arizona is bordered by the famed Colorado River, and fourparks offer you the chance to relax and enjoy an awesome RV Camping experience. Plus, if you want great fishing, boating, and camping near a lake, Alamo Lake State Park gives you the secluded, relaxing experience you're looking for. Head out west to enjoy camping with Arizona State Parks and Trails!
West Coastopportunities – Colorado River and Alamo Lake
The Colorado River is a popular spot for boating, tubing, and floating your days away, but there are also four great state parks that have camping available so you can get intoriver life mode for a week or a weekend. The most well-known park, Lake Havasu State Park, boasts a white-sand beach, five boat ramps, and plenty of electric hook-up sites for your tent or RV, including beach-front sites. If you want a quieter park, check out Cattail Cove State Park, located just 15 minutes away. This park has 61 campsites, including boat-in campsites, for you to enjoy near the water. Plus, there's a dog-friendly beach so you can enjoy time with your best companion!Boat on the blue waters, sail into quiet coves, or water or jet ski out on the open lake.
Head south along the river to reach the Parker strip and two more beautiful state parks, Buckskin Mountain and River Island. Both parks have gorgeous views of the river, the nearby mountains that line the river on both sides, family-friendly events and activities,and amazing amenities to make your camping trip the best yet. The hardest decision you'll have to make is which park to choose!
For a completely different experience, head east from the riverto Alamo Lake State Park, located near Wendon, Ariz. This is the place to be for bass fishing, expansive views, and quiet solitude. With the nearest city lights nearly 40 miles away, this is also a prime stargazing park. In spring, wildflowers bring bright colors to the gentle rolling hills, and visitors can enjoy camping in tents, RVs, or the park cabinsyear-round. Take your boat out on the lake, or try a canoe or kayak to get the best views. With plenty of group sites, camping spots, and quiet, you'll be able to get away from it all and unwind. This park also offers access to some of the best off-highway vehicle trails in the state!
Camping in Arizona is an incredible experience! Don't miss the opportunity to get outdoors and spend a night under the stars.The state parks campgrounds in Arizona offer diverse landscapes, adventures, and sights.Whether you're after the water, the desert, or the wildlife, there's a campsite for you right inside your state parks!
Donate to Arizona State Parks
Arizona’s state park system does not receive General Fund monies that the state generates through taxes. As a self-sustaining agency, it is vital to receive public support for ongoing costs and upgrades to the park system you enjoy.
How will your donation be used?
- Improvement projects like playgrounds, restrooms, and other infrastructure to improve park experiences
- Repairs to existing buildings and structures within the parks, including historic structures.
- Trail maintenance and construction
- Organized clean-ups throughout Arizona
- Park operational costs, including supplies and equipment to maintain the park.
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Camping is allowed on public lands in Arizona for no more than a period of 14 days within any period of 28 consecutive days, unless otherwise identified.
Is Boondocking Legal in Arizona? Like anywhere, boondocking is legal as long as you find the right places to camp. Most Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land allows dispersed camping for up to 14 days. Unless otherwise noted, it's perfectly legal to camp on this public land for free.
No, Arizona State Parks does not offer a senior discount or a disabled discount for entrance or camping at the state parks. Also, we do not accept the Golden Eagle Pass or the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass for waiving entrance fees into Arizona State Parks.
Arizona might be one of the best states in the United States for dispersed or free camping. In several areas throughout Arizona, you can literally pull off the side of the road and pitch your tent for free. For those looking for a cheap way to travel throughout Arizona, dispersed camping is the way to go.
Passes and Permits – Nearly all BLM land in Arizona is open for camping without permits.