Best Campsites in Arizona

by Amy Myers
best-arizona-campsites

Like many of our southwestern states, Arizona’s wilder parts are typically associated with the state’s national parks, from Saguaro to the Grand Canyon, but not to be forgotten are the hidden treasures scattered around the desert landscape that offer just as gorgeous views and heart-pounding adventures without so many crowds and competing campsites.

From Yuma to Sedona, Arizona manages a total of 31 state parks, and no two are alike. In fact, you’ll often find that the campsites cover just about every color in the rainbow, from rusty red canyons to lush green mountain tops and even crystal blue waters. Some of these state parks’ campsites are just a few miles away from each other, and still, you won’t find the same attractions during your stay.

Of course, you could off just about anywhere within Arizona’s desert regions and find remarkable views. But these campsites are the best in the state because of their proximity to backcountry adventures, versatility for different campers and overall cost-efficiency.

One thing to note about staying at an Arizona state park is that these campsites will not have quite as many amenities as more waterbased locations. And, if the area hasn’t seen a lot of rainfall, the parks may temporarily close bathrooms and showers to reserve resources. So, bringing your own source of drinking water and dry hygenic products is highly recommended.

Take a look at Outsider’s pick of AZ campsites.

best-campsites-arizona-blm-camping
Photo by: Edwin Remsberg/VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Alamo Lake State Park’s Campground B

For the stargazers.

  • Location: Alamo Rd, Wenden, AZ 85357
  • Campground contact: (928) 669-2088
  • Park hours: open 24 hours, year-round
  • Campground website

Located 40 miles away from the nearest city lights, Alamo Lake State Park is just as gorgeous at night as it is during the day. In fact, Alamo Lake hosts quite a few stargazing parties throughout the year and is one of the go-to spots for local astronomers to gather on a clear night.

Of course, there are plenty of activities to do before the sun goes down, too. Besides starlit skies, Alamo Lake State Park is home to some prime fishing and paddling opportunities as well as some off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails.

There are a total of seven campgrounds at Alamo State Park and that’s not including its cabin availabilities. Many of these campgrounds have either rustic or electric sites. So for the sake of versatility, we’ve focused on Campground B which accommodates both tent and trailer/RV campers.

Campground breakdown:

  • 14 rustic campsites: $15 per night
  • 28 standard electric campsites: $25 to $30 per night
  • 4 camper cabins: $70

Alamo Lake amenities: restrooms, fire pits, picnic tables, above-ground grills and fishing spots.

Reserve an Alamo Lake campsite here.

Lake Havasu State Park

For the desert-bound beachgoers.

  • Location: 699 London Bridge Road, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403
  • Campground contact: (928) 855-2784
  • Park hours: open 24 hours, year-round
  • Campground website

Lake Havasu is home to Arizona’s most popular campsites, and for good reason. You’ll be singing George Strait’s “Ocean Front Property” all the way to Lake Havasu State Park because it’ll feel like you’ve stuck your toes in the sand of an island destination. With white sand beaches, clear waters and sunny weather, it’s a part of Arizona that many don’t know exists. And the few that have come to love this lakefront vacation spot want to keep it that way.

With how much beauty and adventure awaits at Lake Havasu, though, the secret was bound to come out. Now, it’s the go-to for folks that crave a beachside getaway without giving up the surrounding red rock landscape.

Campground breakdown:

  • 46 standard electric campsites: $35 to $40 per night
  • 20 camper cabins: $119 to $129 per night

From April 1 to September 30, the state park has a two-night minimum during the weekends as well as a three-night minimum during holiday weekends.

Lake Havasu amenities: showers, toilets, potable water, sanitation dump station, picnic tables, fire rings and shade ramadas.

Reserve a Lake Havasu campsite here.

best-campsites-arizona-1
Beachgoers cool off in the waters of Lake Havasu. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Kartchner Caverns State Park

For the underground explorers.

  • Location: 2980 S Hwy 90, Benson, AZ 85602
  • Campground contact: (520) 586-4100
  • Park hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Campground website

Below the sandy and shrub-spotted hilltops of Benson, Arizona, an entire world of cool corners and startling mineral formations await. This underground oasis is the prime attraction of Kartchner Caverns State Park. The living caverns have a wide range of formations to explore, including one of the world’s longest soda straw stalactites and the tallest and most massive column in Arizona, Kubla Khan. Year-round, these intricate rooms stay cool and moist, each drop of water and footstep echoing across the corridors. Between May and October, though, the caverns are closed to allow for resident bats to nurse their young and prepare for their winter migration.

Along with the stalagtite and stalagmite formations, there are several hiking trails on Kartchner Caverns State Park’s premises as well as a hummingbird garden at the Discovery Center. From dawn till dusk, you won’t run out of things to do or see at these campsites.

Campground breakdown:

  • 61 standard electric campsites: $30 to $35 per night
  • 3 ADA compliant sites: $30 to $35 per night
  • 4 camper cabins: $99 per night

Kartchner Caverns amenities: wastebins, showers, restrooms, bottled water vending machines and dishwashing sinks.

Reserve a Kartchner Caverns campsite here.

Lost Dutchman State Park

For the true desert enthusiasts.

  • Location: 6109 N. Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119
  • Campground contact: (480) 982-4485
  • Park hours: 6 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Campground website

Lost Dutchman State Park gives campers a front-seat view of the Sonoran Desert as well as Superstition Mountains. Each day, you’ll awake to towering ridges and surrounding saguaros, keeping watch over the quiet country. Depending on how much rainfall the region has seen, you may also find a blanket of wildflowers beckoning you to the campsites here.

Once you become accustomed to the beauty of the area (which, let’s be real, may never happen), you can take advantage of the variety of hiking and biking trails, some of which have direct access to the campgrounds. Or, if you prefer more passive activities, there are also great wildlife watching opportunities throughout the park. All that’s left for you to do is snag a campsite and choose your adventure.

Campground breakdown:

  • 68 standard electric campsites: $35 per night
  • 67 rustic/nonelectric sites: $25 per night
  • 5 camper cabins: $89 to $129 per night

Lost Dutchman amenities: picnic tables, fire pits, showers and restrooms.

Reserve a Lost Dutchman campsite here.

Lost Dutchman State Park, Saguaro cactus and moon, Apache Junction, Arizona. (Photo by: Dukas/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Cattail Cove State Park

For campers in search of solitude and simplicity.

  • Location: AZ-95, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86406
  • Campground contact: (928) 855-1223
  • Park hours: open 24 hours, year-round
  • Campground website

Though you can find secluded spaces all throughout Arizona’s state parks, Cattail Cove State Park has campsites specifically designed for minimalistic campers that only need a tent, their boat and some good campfire food. The primitive, boat-in sites are ideal for southwestern campers that want to be as absorbed as possible in the landscape – no electricity, minimal modern amenities and immediate access to the cove.

For those that simply can’t do without air conditioning or plugs, there is a portion of this campground that does have electric hook-ups farther away from the water. Of course, if you do decide to bring your extra equipment here, be sure to respect the fact that others may have laid their tents down to escape bright lights and loud noises.

Campground breakdown:

  • 61 standard electric campsites: $30 to $40 per night
  • 38 primitive boat-in sites: $20 per night

Like Lake Havasu, Cattail Cove State Park requires a two-night stay for the weekends from April 1 to September 30 and a three-night stay for holiday weekends during this period. Additionally, the primitive, boat-in campsites are on a first-come, first-serve basis, so reservations are only available for the electric sites.

Cattail Cove amenities: swimming beach, picnic areas, ramada shade shelters, restrooms and showers, primitive toilets, boat launch, wastebins, sanitation dump station and fire rings/grills.

Reserve a Cattail Cove campsite here.

Outsider.com