There’s much more to the Grand Canyon State than, well, The Grand Canyon (although we don’t recommend leaving Arizona without seeing this incredible national treasure). An easy drive from surrounding states California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, Arizona has a little bit of each of its neighbors’ landscape, but also has some special attractions you can only see here.

Camping your way across Arizona is an adventure that will take you from mountain peaks to canyons to cactus-filled deserts – even to a sandy beach. 

Don’t believe us? Check out our roundup of 8 of the best camping spots in Arizona to find out more!

1. KAIBAB NATIONAL FOREST NEAR THE GRAND CANYON

PHOTO COURTESY OF  @MASONTAYLORPRICE

PHOTO COURTESY OF @MASONTAYLORPRICE

  • Campsite Name: Forest Road 305 Campground

  • Coordinates/Directions: 35.842642, -112.126162

  • Bathroom/facilities: None

  • Top Activities: Hiking, National Park access

  • Pit Stops Nearby: Red Butte Mountain, Grand Canyon National Park

  • Top Hikes Nearby: Red Butte Trail, Grand Canyon hikes

The Kaibab National Forest surrounds the Grand Canyon National Park, making it an ideal stop on your Arizona overlanding adventure. 

There are many options for free dispersed camping in the Kaibab National Forest, but the Forest Road 305 Campground is conveniently located near the main road, which takes you to Grand Canyon Village (only about 25 minutes away). 

Look for an old brick chimney that marks the spot, but don’t let the word “campground” in the name fool you — there are no services in this spot. Be prepared for boondocking, make sure you have plenty of food and water on board, and plan to take your trash with you when you leave. 

photo courtesy of  @jessej.media

photo courtesy of @jessej.media

If you’re looking to be farther from the main road or from other campers, continue along Forest Road 305 to access plenty of other potential dispersed campsites. You’re permitted to drive and camp within 30 feet of any road in the National Forest for up to 14 days — all for free! 

Always be respectful of the land and follow Leave No Trace principles to ensure that these lands remain available for future generations to enjoy.

2. LOST DUTCHMAN STATE PARK

photo courtesy of  @wild_ERICA

photo courtesy of @wild_ERICA

  • Campsite Name: Lost Dutchman State Park Campground

  • Coordinates/Directions: 33.456033, -111.481094 

  • Bathroom/facilities: RV hookups, picnic tables, fire pits

  • Top Activities: Hiking, Mountain biking

  • Pit Stops Nearby: Phoenix, Saguaro Lake

  • Top Hikes Nearby: Siphon Draw Trail

Follow in the legendary footsteps of a Dutchman who is rumored to have emerged from the Superstition Mountains with a bag full of gold at Lost Dutchman State Park, only 40 miles east of Phoenix.

There are many versions of the story of the lost gold mine and the Dutchman. Many have tried and failed to discover the caches of gold that are supposedly hidden in the Superstition Mountains, all adding to the mystery of this unique place. 

photo courtesy of  @AZStateParks

photo courtesy of @AZStateParks

You’ll find 138 designated campsites, 68 of which offer electric and water hookups for RVs. Explore the Sonoran Desert on foot or via mountain bike using the hiking and mountain biking trails woven throughout the park. 

Keep an eye out for wildlife like javelina, deer, and even venomous Gila monsters. You’re likely to hear coyotes howling as you fall asleep under the stars.

3. LAKE HAVASU STATE PARK

photo courtesy of  @alma_travelss

photo courtesy of @alma_travelss

  • Campsite Name: Lake Havasu State Park Campground

  • Coordinates/Directions: 34.492376, -114.360683

  • Bathroom/facilities: Showers, toilets, RV hookups, picnic tables, fire rings

  • Top Activities: Beach, boating, water sports

  • Pit Stops Nearby: The Original London Bridge

  • Top Hikes Nearby: Dead Burro Canyon Trail

Lake Havasu is a large reservoir on the California-Arizona border, formed by a dam in the Colorado River. With 400 miles of coastline and 60 miles of navigable waterways to explore, Lake Havasu is a capital of watersports and beach activities in the desert of western Arizona. 

The Lake Havasu State Park Campground offers beachfront options with full RV hookups so you can enjoy beach and water activities right outside your camper van’s door. Rent a boat, kayak, or paddle board, and dive in. 

photo courtesy of  isle paddleboards

photo courtesy of isle paddleboards

Arizona’s “west coast” is a freshwater playground for boating enthusiasts, offering secluded beaches that can only be reached by boat, and even more than a dozen boat-in restaurants.

There are many hikes nearby, but check out the Dead Burro Canyon Trail if you’re up for a challenge (with some climbing and scrambling required). Be on the lookout for wild burro and bighorn sheep as you hike through the scenic canyon in the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. 

Avoid hiking in the summer, as temperatures can be unsafely warm. Stick to the water’s edge in those hotter months!

Fun fact: In 1967, Lake Havasu City’s founder purchased the Old London Bridge from the City of London for $2.4 million and reconstructed it over Lake Havasu, connecting Havasu City to an island in the Colorado River. Be sure to check out this “largest antique ever sold” while you’re in the area.

4. PETRIFIED FOREST NATIONAL PARK

photo courtesy of  @nationalparkservice

photo courtesy of @nationalparkservice

  • Campsite Name: Backcountry camping

  • Coordinates/Directions: 35.068630, -109.778792

  • Bathroom/facilities: None

  • Top Activities: Hiking, National Park access

  • Pit Stops Nearby: Painted Desert Indian Center

  • Top Hikes Nearby: Painted Desert Rim Trail, Blue Mesa Loop

Explore the painted desert and ancient petrified forest of this National Park about 2 hours east of Flagstaff, Arizona. The eroded and colorful badlands of the northern end of the park have earned the name “painted desert,” and are uniquely scenic. 

The southern end of the park is where you’ll find the most petrified wood and fossils, marking the remnants of a prehistoric forest that stood here 225 million years ago. 

This is an adventurous place to camp, as you won’t find any designated campsites in the park. Camping here requires a free backcountry permit, and you’ll need to backpack into the wilderness area to choose your own spot to spend the night. What a great way to escape civilization and really get away from it all. 

The high desert landscape is around 5,000 feet, and the temperatures can range from 100 degrees in the summer to well below freezing in the winter. Bring the right gear to sleep comfortably under the dark night sky and bright stars. Keep your eyes peeled for pronghorn antelope, bobcats, and coyotes.

5. ORGAN PIPE CACTUS NATIONAL MONUMENT

photo courtesy of TONDO / Getty

photo courtesy of TONDO / Getty

  • Campsite Name: Twin Peaks Campground

  • Coordinates/Directions: 31.942731, -112.810370

  • Bathroom/facilities: Flush toilets, drinking water, dump station, solar showers

  • Top Activities: Hiking, biking, scenic drives

  • Top Hikes Nearby: Bull Pasture Trail

Located only 6 miles north of the US-Mexico border, the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument offers a taste of the remote southwestern desert. Follow a long desert road south from Interstate 8 near Gila Bend for 76 miles, and you’ll be transported into the remote desert wilderness.

The park is a designated Biosphere Reserve — an intact Sonoran Desert ecosystem. Organ Pipe cactus are a unique species only found in this region, which can live to be 150 years old. After 35 years they blossom with creamy white flowers in May and June, a stunning sight in the desert landscape. 

The Twin Peaks Campground is large, offering over 200 tent and RV sites. Because this is such a remote location, it’s not typically crowded. Reservations can be made through recreation.gov (and are required in peak season January – March). Be sure to check for Covid-related closures at all state and national parks before setting off into the desert.

Hike, bike, or take a scenic drive to see all that this unique park has to offer.

6. APACHE-SITGREAVES NATIONAL FOREST

photo courtesy of  @brianbreaksfree

photo courtesy of @brianbreaksfree

  • Campsite Name: KP Cienega Campground

  • Coordinates/Directions: 33.576108, -109.355068. Directions from Alpine: Drive 27 miles south on US Highway 191 past Hannagan Meadow Resort to a sign that points the way to KP Cienega. Turn east (left) onto the access road and drive 1.3 miles to the campground.

  • Bathroom/facilities: Vault Toilets, Picnic Tables, Fire Rings

  • Top Activities: Hiking, Backpacking

  • Pit Stops Nearby: The Coronado Trail National Scenic Byway

  • Top Hikes Nearby: KP Trail

KP Cienega is one of the highest campgrounds in the state of Arizona, located at 9,000 feet in the White Mountains near the New Mexico border. That means that when the rest of the state is cooking in the summer heat, the high elevation can offer a refreshingly cool escape. 

This site is free to use, but doesn’t offer RV hookups. It’s best suited for Overland Discovery’s Jeep campers, as the campground only allows vehicles and campers up to 16-feet long. (Our Jeep campers are a little over 15 feet, so you’re in the clear!)

There are some primitive amenities here including vault toilets and fire rings, but no running water. Be sure to fill up before stopping for the night. 

Plan for a cool evening around the fire enjoying the stars and the mountain air. The KP Trailhead offers hiking and backpacking opportunities and connects to many other trails in the area, so you can enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery up close. 

photo courtesy of  @arizona.wild.horses

photo courtesy of @arizona.wild.horses

And if you’re into horses, head to Heber, Arizona. The Heber Wild Horse Territory was established back in 1974 and spans around 19,700 acres within the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest for the wild horses to roam around. According to the National Forest Service, there are between 270 and 420 wild horses in the territory.

7. CHIRICAHUA NATIONAL MONUMENT

photo courtesy of  @erickson_kris

photo courtesy of @erickson_kris

  • Campsite Name: Bonita Canyon Campground

  • Coordinates/Directions: 32.011111, -109.355278. Chiricahua National Monument is 45 minutes southeast of Willcox and 2 hours southeast of Tucson. 

  • Bathroom/facilities: Picnic tables, grills, flush toilets, drinking water

  • Top Activities: Hiking, Wildlife viewing, National Monument access

  • Pit Stops Nearby: Faraway Ranch

  • Top Hikes Nearby: Big Canyon Loop Trail

Bonita Canyon Campground is located in the unique landscape of the Chiricahua National Monument in Southern Arizona. This area is sometimes called the Wonderland of Rocks. 

The National Monument is free to enter, but the camp site fee ranges from $3-$20. For your fee you’ll get a site shaded by trees, a picnic table, and a stand-up grill. 

Because of the wildlife that frequents this area, most sites also have a bear-proof locker for your use. This campground limits the size of RVs that can enter, but Overland Discovery’s compact RVs, campervans, and Jeep campers are all within the range of permitted vehicles here. 

The park offers 17 miles of hiking trails, including the Big Canyon Loop Trail which will take you through the geological wonders and dramatic views this area is known for.

8. COCONINO NATIONAL FOREST NEAR SEDONA

photo courtesy of  @sweetsassyjilly

photo courtesy of @sweetsassyjilly

  • Campsite Name: Nolan Tank Dispersed Camping

  • Coordinates/Directions: 34.8845, -111.9108 

  • Bathroom/facilities: None

  • Top Activities: Hiking, yoga, archaeological sites

  • Pit Stops Nearby: Red Rock State Park, Palatki Heritage Site

  • Top Hikes Nearby: Eagles Nest Trail

Located north of Phoenix and south of Flagstaff, the Coconino National Forest offers everything from the famous red rocks of Sedona to Ponderosa Pines. Try the Nolan Tank dispersed camping area for easy access to nearby state parks and archaeological sites. The road may be rough with washboard, so drive carefully!

Your Overland Discovery Jeep camper’s 4-wheel drive will make easy work of the dirt road. This spot can fill up on weekends, but there are plenty of other dispersed and designated camping options in the National Forest. Just keep looking!

Get in touch with your spiritual side in the Sedona area, which is famous for its healing energy vortex sites. Try yoga or meditation among the red rocks in this “cathedral without walls,” or just go for a beautiful hike in nearby Red Rock State Park. 

Check out the ruins of ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs at the Palatki Heritage Site, or take a break from campfire food and enjoy some of the delicious dining options in the artsy town of Sedona, boasting everything from breweries to fine dining.

EXPLORE BEAUTIFUL ARIZONA

With so many beautiful and diverse camping spots to choose from, it can be difficult to pick just one. Why not make it an overlanding adventure and try to hit as many of these exciting campsites as possible in one amazing road trip? 

Every corner of Arizona has its own special landmarks that you just can’t miss. And as you camp your way around amazing Arizona, you might notice scenic photo opportunities abound. 

Check out our guide to the most iconic photography spots in Arizona >