If you love hot weather camping, then Arizona is the place for you.
With a wide variety of climates, from gorgeous lakes to lush forests, and finally to their iconic deserts, Arizona has amazing landscapes and campsites for nearly every traveler.
You can camp in a tent, trailer, RV, or rooftop tent in many of Arizona’s amazing campgrounds.
We’ve compiled the information you need before your next camping adventure:
Peak Camping Times:
Arizona is incredibly hot in the summertime, especially when you camp in their desert parks or campgrounds.
However, in the winter, nightly desert temperatures can feel freezing and uncomfortable for most tent and trailer campers.
Therefore, the best time to camp in Arizona would be spring and fall.
April through early June and September through October would be peak camping times in this harsher environment.
While it is possible to have a great time camping in the peak season (June through August), you might find it to be too hot if you’ve never camped in desert terrain before.
If you should choose to camp in the forest or densely wooded areas instead, summer might be the perfect time for you.
Can you Go RVing in Arizona Outside these Dates?
A few campgrounds allow year-round camping that is perfect for you to park your RV in and enjoy the quiet off-seasons.
Luckily RVs allow us to camp in harsher conditions, such as extreme heat or extreme cold.
However, not all RVs are four-season capable, and some don’t have proper insulation that can protect you from the cold or keep the cool air in during summer. Therefore, it is crucial that you know the capabilities of your RV before you go during harsher camping months.
Here’s an example of where you can camp year-round in Arizona:
Tucson/Lazydays KOA Resort:
The most luxurious place to camp in this article, the Tuscon/Lazydays KOA Resort for RVs and cabin caping.
There are two swimming pools, hot tubs, a nine-hole putting green, and other fun activities!
There are also RV sites that come with their own patio and fireplace.
If you don’t have an RV, they do have limited tent camping and mulch/wood chip sites to choose from.
Where Can you Camp for Free in Arizona?
Camping for free is a great alternative when you like to camp rustically and don’t want to pay a campground to use their land.
Dispersed camping is what most explorers and adventurers turn to when they’d rather camp out in the wilderness on their own terms.
First, What is Dispersed Camping?
Dispersed camping is when visitors camp on public land owned by the government – not private land owned by a campground owner.
This land would be either Bureau of Land Management land or U.S. Forest Service land. Make sure you know where you’re going before you camp.
This means that you are basically camping in the wilderness. You won’t have access to water pipes or hookups, and you will have to bring your own food.
You also need to make and maintain your own firepits and campsites, taking all trash with you and disposing of animal and human waste in a safe and sanitary manner.
Make sure to fully prepare before going dispersed camping.
Properly Asking to Camp on Tribal Land:
It is important to mention that we mention tribal land in this article because Arizona does have quite a lot of it.
Many visitors camp on tribal land each year and are welcomed with open arms when the land is treated with respect, and proper protocol is followed.
Each area of tribal land, or reservation, will have its own rules, and you may need to have a permit in order to camp there. You will certainly need permission.
Always contact the local Tribal Government of the area or tribe that you would wish to visit and do not go without knowing their full rules, wishes, and policies.
It is crucial that you remember that tribal land is sacred in the United States and should be treated with care, respect, and the proper knowledge before attempting to camp there.
According to Campendium, here are a few great free spots to camp in Arizona:
Coconino National Forest:
This national forest is full of spots to camp for free!
You could hike through beautiful trails and set up camp whenever you’re ready!
Keep in mind, areas like Sedona & Oak Creek, State Stop, Mormon Crossing/Springs, Fossil Creek, FR 237, and Kelly Pocket Areas are currently CLOSED for free camping.
There are some open, designated spots that you should check out:
- Flagstaff Ranger District Camping
- Mogollon Rim Ranger District
- Red Rock Ranger District
- West Clear Creek District
All of these locations can be found on the fs.usda.gov website for Coconino National Forest (see link at the bottom of the article).
The Grand Canyon:
You can camp outside of the Grand Canyon National Park for free.
Outside of the entrances in areas like Forest Road 302 and Coconino Road allow you to “boondock” or dispersed camp for free.
This gives you a nice location to spend the night before seeing the canyon, as well as saves you from having to pay for a crowded campsite.
Remember: these sites will not have water or electric hookups, so make sure to be prepared.
Can You Camp on Public Hunting Land in Arizona?
It is possible to camp on public hunting land in Arizona.
It is important to know where you are going before you decide to camp on hunting land. It may either be illegal or incredibly dangerous if you camp somewhere you aren’t supposed to.
Each location asks that all visitors be responsible for knowing and understanding all rules and regulations before visiting.
If you want to hunt at any of these locations, all hunters in your party must have a valid Arizona hunting license and tags or stamps. Without them, you could be subject to fines or even jail time should you ignore these rules.
Here are three possible locations that you can camp and hunt at:
Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge Sasabe, AZ
On about 90% of the refuge, you can hunt white-tailed deer, coyotes, skunks, three types of doves, ducks, geese, and both jack and cottontail rabbits.
There are “no hunt zones” in the area near public use areas or residential homes. You are able to get this information through a brochure that the visitor’s center provides, as well as by marked signs or posts on the ground.
Only rabbits, coyote, and skunk hunting is open year-round.
When camping, there are bout 83 marked primitive campsites to choose from with an occupancy limit of 14 days. You may make fires using dead or downed wood (do not chop down trees).
During periods of fire danger or dry seasons, fires are prohibited.
You can also horseback ride here, follow wildlife or nature trails, and take a guided hike and learn about environmental education.
No reservations necessary at Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge!
Just like with Buenos Aires Refuge, camping is limited to 14 days and can be located in designated unimproved campgrounds.
You may not camp within a quarter of a mile of game water sources (so make sure to stay clear of certain lakes or ponds), and there is no gathering of downed or local wood.
You must bring your own wood to burn here.
Each designated site has a table to use.
For questions on hunting or sport fishing opportunities, regulations, and access, please contact the refuge.
Kofa National Wildlife Refuge Yuma, AZ
Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is a little different.
Instead of designated campsites in rough terrain, they have two cabins that are able to be used on a first-come-first-serve basis.
These cabins, Kofa Cabin and Hoodoo Cabin are very rustic and usually only have a few cots, a table, and sometimes a wood-burning stove.
They are mostly used for quick stops along the trail or for a night or two among friends.
Be respectful of others in need of shelter and, as always, take any trash away with you when you leave.
Camping Rules & Regulations in Arizona:
Campgrounds will always have different rules depending on the owners or the campground’s policies.
This means that one campground may allow alcohol at visitor campsites while others may not, likewise with pets or golf carts or ATVs.
You always should ask ahead or look into your particular campground’s rules before heading out, as they may have different policies than you are used to.
Alcohol is usually only allowed in overnight camp sights.
This means that you can’t drink alcohol in public day areas such as beaches, parks, or other recreational areas.
Obviously, only those who are at the legal drinking age may drink alcohol at the campground you are staying in.
Fires and the use of firewood should always be done in the fire ring or concrete grill.
Often, campgrounds will provide you with firewood, sell it to you, or you can bring your own. Check with your campground first.
Make sure that you are not cutting down trees or disrupting wildlife for your firewood, especially in national parks like Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, which asks that you bring your own wood.
Also, DO NOT burn anything dangerous, such as poison ivy, poison oak, or other woods that might cause harm.
Pets are not always allowed at the campground you are staying at.
You will either need to check with your campground first or make sure that when reserving a site that it states it is “pet friendly.”
If you do bring a pet, dogs and pets should be on leashes (6 feet or less) and either kenneled or in the tent or motor home at night or when not leashed.
Animals should not be kept in cars or areas of direct sunlight in Arizona due to the heat. Keep them cool!
Always clean up after your pets as well.
Bringing weapons to a campground is prohibited unless you are within a designated hunting park or wildlife area.
Users of firearms should be licensed, and only specific firearms can be used in certain areas.
For example, not all wildlife hunting grounds will allow shotguns.