Camping Tips for Arizona National Parks

Last Updated on July 31, 2019 by Jody

Arizona, with its warm winter weather, is a prime destination for campers and we even have a couple towns (Yuma and Quartzite) that claim to be the “RV Capital of the World.” If you want to settle into an RV park for the winter, you’ll have plenty of options in Arizona.

However, I think the real beauty of camping in Arizona is having an overnight experience in our National Parks.

Arizona National parks camping tips

Arizona National Park Camping Tips

Arizona has more national parks and monuments than any other state in the U.S. so there are lots of camping options to choose from.

Learn More: National Park Camping Tips

Grand Canyon Campgrounds

Grand Canyon Desert View

Arizona is called the Grand Canyon State, so we’re pretty proud to be the home of this natural wonder of the world. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Grand Canyon, from backpacking below the rim, to a quick North Rim day trip and best of all, 11 days whitewater rafting in the canyon.

When it comes to camping at the Grand Canyon, there are several campgrounds and loads of backcountry camping opportunities.

I recently visited the South Rim again and my #1 Grand Canyon recommendation is to spend the night at the canyon so you can enjoy it after the tour buses leave for the day.

An added bonus of staying at one of these Grand Canyon campgrounds is that you can use the park shuttle system and not deal with driving during your stay. 

If you are interested in the Grand Canyon campgrounds, you have several options to choose from.

Grand Canyon Mather Campground
  • Mather Campground (South Rim)
    • Season: Open year-round
    • Reservations Required
    • Amenities: generator-free loops, flush toilets, pay showers, pay laundry
  • Desert View Campground (South Rim)
    • Season: mid-April through mid-October
    • Reservations: first-come, first-served only. Usually fills up by noon.
    • Amenities: flush toilets and sinks (no hot water)
  • Trailer Village (South Rim)
    • Season: Open year-round
    • Reservations recommended
    • Amenities: none
  • South Rim Campground Fees & More Information
  • North Rim Campground
    • Season: May 15 – October 31
    • Reservations: 5/15 – 10/15, first-served 10/16-10/31
    • Amenities: General store, coin-op laundry, coin-op showers, amphitheater, park ranger programs, dump station. 
  • North Rim Campground Fees & More Information
  • Backcountry Campgrounds
    • There are three backcountry campgrounds in the Grand Canyon, and dispersed camping along other hiking routes.
    • Access is by permit only, and require that you carry in your supplies.
      • Indian Garden Campground – 4.8 miles from the South Rim
      • Bright Angel Campground – 9.9 miles from the South Rim
      • Cottonwood Campground – 6.8 miles from the North Rim
  • Backcountry Camping Permits & more information
Grand Canyon Backcountry Camping

New to backcountry camping? Start here!

If the campgrounds are full, the nearest services outside of park boundaries are the Kaibab Lodge for the North Rim and Tusayan or Williams for the South Rim. 

Petrified Forest National Park Camping

Petrified Forest National Park Sign

I didn’t even know about Petrified Forest National Park until I moved to Arizona. That said, it’s right along Route 66, so it’s not necessarily off the beaten path, it just doesn’t get as much attention as some of the other National Parks of the Southwest.

The park is split into two units: the Painted Desert Area and the Petrified Forest Area.

Each has amazing viewpoints and hiking trails. There are no campgrounds in Petrified Forest National Park, but dispersed camping in the backcountry is allowed.

For the nearest Petrified Forest camping, head to Holbrook. I’ve stayed at the KOA in Holbrook many times in their camping cabins.

Saguaro National Park Camping

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park has a unit on either side of the Tucson Metropolitan area. The east side, or Rincon Unit, has only backcountry camping within the park. The west side, or Tucson Mountain unit, has one campground that offers easy access to the best hiking trails of Saguaro National Park and the nearby Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.

Related Article: Why the USA National Parks Guide by Moon Should be in Every Camper’s Library

Arizona National Monuments

In addition to three national parks in Arizona, there are dozens of National Monument sites worth visiting. Several of these offer camping as well. 

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

There are three primitive campgrounds around Lake Powell, available on a first-come, first-served basis.

I recommend camping at the Wahweap RV Campground. As a tent camper, I often avoid the big RV parks, but was blown away by the views of Lake Powell from this campground. 

Organ Pipe Cactus Campground

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Twin Peaks Campground is open year-round, with water, restrooms, showers, grills, tables, and a dump station. 

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Cottonwood Campground – primitive sites open year-round, no showers or hookups

Spider Rock Campground – privately owned, no services

Chiricahua National Monument

Bonita Canyon Campground is open year-round with reservations. Potable water and flush toilets; no hookups.

Have you been camping in any of these Arizona National Parks?

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Arizona National Parks Camping
Arizona National Parks Camping

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One Comment

  1. This is a fantastic post and one that I will refer back to when we take out annual trip to Arizona! Thanks! -Jen

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