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THE BEST CAMPING SPOTS NEAR PHOENIX

11 PLACES

UPDATED JUL 14, 2020

Whether you like to start your next weekend adventure by taking a dip in the lake, doing yoga under the trees, or exploring a cave—you can do it all without going too far from Phoenix. So grab your tent, flashlight, and best buddies because it’s adventure time!

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CHELSEA GOBSTER

FITT PHOENIX CONTRIBUTOR

Just outside of Payson is a camping spot that truly has it all: a lake, pines, and incredible views from the Mogollon Rim. Seriously, the view of the Coconino National Forest will give you some Insta-worthy photos. Another awesome shot you’ll leave with: the catch of the day. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout — even amateur fisherman can expect success. And, while you can’t swim in the lake, you can rent boats, purchase bait, and get your fishing license at the country store located right at Spillway Campground.

If you want views from below the Mogollon Rim, hit up Christopher Creek campground. You’ll reap the benefits of the crisp creek and shade of ponderosa pines. There are over 43 campsites including one that accommodates over 25 people. We’d have to recommend piling in a car for a weekend getaway with all your friends!

So, we know you’ve heard of Monument Valley — or at least seen the incredible rock structures in the movies. But camping there? That’s on another level. Imagine waking up to the rock silhouettes as the sun rises on the horizon. Well, quit dreaming, you totally can! You’re going to want to make a road trip out of this one, so start working on your playlist!

This campground near Prescott doesn’t require any hiking. But fear not—adventure is nearby. In fact, not only can you hike, but there are opportunities for mountain biking, horseback riding, gold panning (good luck!), and archaeological sightseeing. With ponderosa pine groves and a 55-acre lake, you’ll be set for your breathtaking weekend getaway.

Fall asleep to the trickle of a flowing creek. Then, wake up to sights of red rocks in Sedona. Without a doubt, Manzanita Campground is the place to be! This hidden gem is so secretive that you’ll probably even pass it the first time you drive by. Plus, it’s so small you won’t have to worry about having an RV or trailer full of “campers” next to you—they’re forbidden. It is, however, an easy camp; full tree coverage allows you to be right off the road but tucked away into nature.

Okay, so this one is going to take some effort. You’ll need mental patience and physical stamina, but trust us — Havasupai is worth it, times 1,000! If you’re one of the lucky ones to get a permit (sometimes taking over a year in advance), you’ll be hiking 10 miles to Havasu Falls — and the views are really worth the hike. Equally impressive is the nearby Mooney Falls. Be sure to scale down the chains and ladders to the base if you aren’t too afraid of heights. Swimming, jumping off small waterfalls, and camping in one of the best spots in Arizona — you’ll realize why these permits are in high demand. Fitt Tip: make sure you make a reservation with the Havasupai Tribe before making the trip, it’s required.

Camping at the North Rim is just your typical campground. You know, except that it sits at the edge of the Grand Canyon! For a small overnight fee, you’ll get to see both the sunset and sunrise on the canyon walls. Truly, we can’t think of a better place to sip on a morning cup of joe.

It’s best to visit Flagstaff’s Lockett Meadow Campground in the fall when the leaves of the aspen trees turn gold. You'll be taken away by the magical beauty this place holds! It’s equally beautiful any other time of year too; you'll get the views of the San Francisco peaks year round. After all, the extinct volcano is the highest point in Arizona. And with hiking trails criss-crossing every which way, just promise you won’t leave this one off your list!

One word: spelunking. For newbies, spelunking is the art of cave exploration. Luckily, you won’t need any special equipment (though a helmet is recommended) at Peppersauce Cave outside of Tucson. All you’ll need is a sense of adventure and a friend with some caving experience. After your adventure, crash at the Peppersauce Campground just a short hike away.

For a last-minute escape into the wilderness, check out Lost Dutchman. At this well-established campground, you’ll become acquainted with the beautiful Superstition Mountains. There’s something for everyone here, including hiking, biking, and rock climbing. Not to mention, the campsite is dog-friendly!

If you consider yourself a bird-watcher (or enjoy any other type of wildlife), head to Patagonia State Park in Southern Arizona. Wildlife sightings are common on strolls throughout the park, but the best way to see it all is from the water. Canoe, kayak, and paddleboat rentals are available near the campground. Fitt Tip: be sure to make your way to the pedestrian bridge for a photo-op.

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