By Lisa Humbert
The great outdoors of Arizona provides a sprawling sampler of the best nature has to offer: from the world-renowned Grand Canyon to arid deserts and lush forests, Arizona is a camper’s idyllic paradise. Some areas are easily accessible, while others may require a truck or SUV to traverse the rough terrain and carry abundant supplies. We’ve gathered some of the top camping spots in the state showcasing Arizona’s majestic Western vistas and the camping essentials to bring along.
Best Arizona Campgrounds
Toroweap – Located in Grand Canyon National Park, Toroweap, meaning “dry or barren valley,” offers scenic views of the craggy canyon and the Colorado River. The Toroweap backcountry on the outskirts of the park is relatively isolated from other campers—a tranquil location to pitch your tent. The view from Toroweap Overlook and its 3,000 foot vertiginous drop to to the Colorado River below is awe-inspiring. The rushing white waters of Lava Falls Rapid lay just downriver. Volcanic lava flows and cinder cones add to the ancient, ethereal beauty of the Toroweap area.
Lockett Meadow – This verdant meadow seated on the side of the San Francisco Peaks is the pinnacle of natural beauty and a prime locale for camping in northern Arizona. In early autumn, the meadow glows with fiery aspen. Wild elk and deer can be seen grazing the grasslands. From Lockett Meadow, hikers can access the Inner Basin and up to Mt. Humphreys, the highest elevation in the Grand Canyon State.
Cochise Stronghold – Planted in the center of the Dragoon Mountains, the Cochise Stronghold soars 5,000 feet above sea level along with its neighboring West Stronghold. Jagged granite and steep cliffs provided a bastion from enemies for Chief Cochise and his Apaches. Campsites are nestled in dense woods, a cool shelter from the blazing desert sun. Various species of vultures, hawks and falcons can be seen flying above the Dragoons.
Sleeping Bags – Campers commonly use rectangular sleeping bags. For those staying in northern Arizona campgrounds during the colder months, consider mummy bags which offer better heat retention. The insulation for your sleeping bag will depend upon the location of the campsite. Most likely, you’ll want goose down insulation—ideal for arid environments. Though, if rain is in the forecast or you’re traveling down the river with your gear, synthetic fiber-insulated sleeping bags would be preferable as they dry easier and present less of a hassle.
Tents – You have two options when choosing a tent. The first is a cabin tent, a spacious shelter great for large families. Many of these tents come with amenities like ventilation panels and bug-proof netting—the luxury homes of the camping experience. The second option is a dome tent. These are smaller tents and easier to assemble and take down. Their shorter stature holds up well against strong wind, rain and Arizona’s infamous dust storms. To inhibit dust from entering the tent, sew in ripstop nylon to seal up the mesh panels. To create a comfier night of sleep in the wilderness, slip a layer of ground cloth between the tent floor and ground.
Other Camping Supplies:
Voluminous water containers
Compass, maps or GPS
First aid kit
Swiss Army knife
Two-way radios (don’t count on receiving a cell phone signal)