Are you looking to go winter camping somewhere that can guarantee cooler days and chilly nights, but without the risk of a major snowfall interrupting your plans? Then you have got to try some winter camping in Arizona!
Lauded by many as the best time of year for camping in Arizona, winter offers a bevy of beautiful camping options in the incredible Grand Canyon State. Read on for a roundup of the best places to enjoy winter camping in Arizona, from north to south and everywhere in between.
The Best Spots for Winter Camping in Arizona’s Northern Region
1. Grand Canyon National Park – Grand Canyon Village
Of course, no list of the best places to go winter camping in Arizona would be complete without a solid mention of the infamous Grand Canyon National Park! This national park is among the most highly trafficked in the continental United States with millions of visitors annually, and with good reason. Nowhere offers breathtaking views quite like this!
The only downside you might face in winter camping at Grand Canyon National Park is due to the park’s popularity and the milder climate in Arizona year round. Because of these factors, you may have a harder time finding an available campsite when winter camping at Grand Canyon National Park than you would at some of its cold climate contemporaries.
There is also only one campground open all year round for tent camping at Grand Canyon National Park, which is Mather Campground. There is an additional trailer park for RV camping, called Trailer Village, which is open year-round and can be found on the canyon’s South Rim. These are your only two options for winter camping at the Grand Canyon.
Nevertheless, it’s worth the effort to make the trek and face the crowds in order to experience winter camping at Grand Canyon National Park. The cooler months are a great time to experience the Grand Canyon, with milder daytime temperatures affording you a more enjoyable experience taking in the breathtaking beauty of all the canyon has to offer.
2. Petrified Forest National Park – Petrified Forest
True to its name, Petrified Forest National Park is an amazing hub of scenic beauty in all seasons. In addition to the stunning, naturally petrified forest land for which it’s named, this national park also has many other gorgeous sights to behold.
Some of the memorable desert views you’ll find when winter camping here include the Tepees in the park’s badlands area, the Blue Mesa, and the Painted Desert Hills. These are well worth seeing any time of the year, but against the chilly winter sky in particular, they really stand out!
Before you plan to do some winter camping at Petrified Forest National Park, you should be aware that there is no RV camping, car camping, or established camping of any kind available inside the park. Instead, you will have to rely on backcountry camping, which requires backpacking in and out.
Since nights can get well below freezing while winter camping in Arizona, be sure to brush up on your knowledge of backpacking before undertaking a backcountry camping adventure at Petrified Forest National Park.
The Best Spots for Winter Camping in Arizona’s Central Region
3. Lost Dutchman State Park – Pinal
Looking for a touch of the spooky and legendary while winter camping in Arizona? Then start planning your visit to Lost Dutchman State Park! Nestled in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains, this state park is named for the legendary Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.
But you won’t need to hunt for a mythical gold mine to find the treasure that this state park has to offer. Lost Dutchman State Park is gorgeous in all seasons and particularly arresting when the mountains are dressed in snow for the winter season.
You can grab a campsite at the Lost Dutchman Campground, which has breathtaking views of the deserts and the mountains. This campground boasts 138 sites each equipped with fire pits, grill gates, and a dining table.
In between your time at the popular campground, you can also check out the nearby Dolly Steamboat Cruise on Canyon Lake, the Goldfield Ghost Town, and the numerous hiking trails that wind throughout Lost Dutchman State Park.
4. Patagonia Lake State Park – Patagonia
Are you a fan of waterfront views and water play like fishing, boating, or just relaxing near the water? Then you will find Patagonia Lake State Park is the perfect spot for you to go winter camping in Arizona!
This gorgeous state park is wonderful for waterside relaxing, as well as hiking, wildlife viewing, and more. You can enjoy all the beauty of a standard camping trip, but in the cooler weather environment that makes Arizona so inviting at this time of year.
You have several options for winter camping at Patagonia Lake State Park whether you prefer RV camping, tent camping, or even cabin camping! There are over a hundred developed campsites at the campground, which offer 20, 30, and 50 amp service. You will also find a picnic table, a fire ring, and a grill at each site.
If you prefer an even more glamorous type of winter camping in Arizona, you have the option to rent one of the seven cabins at the campground. These lakefront cabins are fully furnished and just waiting to welcome you for your glamping getaway.
Another fantastic spot for both urban and rustic winter camping in Arizona is around the town of Sedona. This area is resplendent with hiking and biking trails, as well as rock climbing opportunities. You’ll find lots of opportunities for dispersed and primitive camping among the stunning red rock formations for which Sedona is well known.
If you’d like a taste of the good life while winter camping in Arizona, you can head into the urban hub of Sedona to visit its many spas and resorts, restaurants, shopping centers, and more. Just be sure to make it back to your campsite in time to view the unparalleled Sedona sunset! Then kick back and enjoy some of the best dark sky stargazing available in the whole state.
Sedona is truly an unmatched spot for winter camping in Arizona, especially if you like things on the more glamorous side.
The Best Spots for Winter Camping in Arizona’s Southern Region
6. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – Ajo
Organ pipe cacti are some of the largest, most majestic, and rarest wild cactus species, growing up to 30 feet tall and surviving for hundreds of years. So what better way to enjoy winter camping in Arizona than among these soaring beauties at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument?
You will have plenty of camping options to satisfy your needs at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument! There are two year round campgrounds available at this national monument. Twin Peaks Campgrounds offers 34 tent sites and over 170 RV sites, while the Alamo Campground hosts four primitive tent campsites.
If you prefer a more rustic, undisturbed winter camping experience in Arizona, however, you can also enjoy some primitive backcountry camping inside nine distinct zones in ORgan Pipe Cactus National Monument.
During your camping adventure at the national monument, you can hike the backcountry, take pictures of the soaring cacti, spot wildlife, or take a scenic drive through the desert.
7. Chiricahua National Monument – Willcox
Spanning over 12,000 acres, Chiricahua National Monument has a lot of space and plenty to love within that sprawling acreage! This national monument is sometimes referred to as the “Wonderland of Rocks”, and for good reason.
Natural erosion from ancient, compacted volcanic ash has created stunning rock formations in Chiricahua unlike any you will find elsewhere. These stunning rocks alone are worth making this a destination for winter camping in Arizona!
But in addition to the one-of-a-kind landscape, there is plenty more to enjoy at Chiricahua. This national monument boasts nearly 20 miles of hiking trails, an eight-mile-long scenic drive, as well as wildlife viewing, a historical district you can visit, and much more.
In terms of camping, there’s just one campground at Chiricahua National Monument. Bonita Canyon Campground is a haven for both RV and tent camping, though RV sizes are limited to a maximum of 29 feet in length. This is all dry camping, without any hookups available. Nights also get quite cold in the canyon, dipping below freezing.
But don’t let any of that discourage you! This breathtaking national monument is one you just have to experience in person, and winter camping in Arizona is a great way to do it.
8. Tucson Mountain Park – Tucson
If you love hiking and biking–or if you’re a big fan of museums–then you’ll want to try winter camping in Arizona at Tucson Mountain Park. This popular park is great for RV camping in particular, with numerous gravel pad spots at the Gilbert Ray campground perfect for your RV winter camping needs.
Once you’re settled in at the campground, you’ll want to spend as much time as you can soaking in all that this mountain park has to offer! You can hike the on-site Valley View Overlook Trail, or stop in at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. This is ranked as one of the best museums in the United States, so you can bet you’ll be in for a real treat visiting here!
You can also branch out from Tucson Mountain Park and visit the nearby Saguaro National Park for even more hiking, wildlife viewing, and other fun outdoor adventures.
9. Catalina State Park – Tucson
Are you in the mood for a more reserved, laid-back experience while winter camping in Arizona? Catalina State Park offers a quieter, less trafficked state park experience, especially in the colder months. This makes a great getaway option if you’d prefer a less crowded spot to enjoy your winter camping.
Despite its fewer visitors, Catalina State Park remains a showcase of all the beauty that the Grand Canyon State has to offer. There are plenty of opportunities for hiking and wildlife viewing at this state park, and lots of options for both RV and tent camping.
Catalina’s year-round campground hosts 120 campsites, all of which have electricity, water, a barbecue grill, and a picnic table each. There is also an RV dump station inside the park.
With these welcoming amenities and its slower pace, Catalina State Park is truly the perfect retreat from the bustle of daily life while winter camping in Arizona.
An Important Note on Winter Camping in Arizona
While the deserts of Arizona and other southwestern states are often thought of as great warm weather retreats during the winter months, this is not exclusively the case. Many spots in the desert—especially at various elevations such as on high peaks or in deep canyons—drop well below freezing at night.
This is something to be particularly mindful about when winter camping in Arizona by tent. Before you strike off on a winter camping adventure in the Grand Canyon State, you should brush up on your winter camping skills and a few tips to keep in mind.
These skills and insights will help ensure you have a safe and fun experience winter camping in Arizona.
Wrapping up the Best Spots to Go Winter Camping in Arizona
Excited to head out on your adventure and experience some of the best spots to go winter camping in Arizona? Check out these 10 incredible hot springs in Arizona for ideas on places where you can warm up in the water during your winter camping expedition.
- About the Author
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Renee Dugan is a lifelong writer, professional editor, and lover of the great outdoors.
A Midwest girl born and raised, Renee has always enjoyed the deep, life-giving inspiration that connection with nature brings.
In addition to channeling the awe of outdoor life into her prolific novel-writing career, she currently enjoys sharing it with her son and spreading knowledge of safe, fun outdoor life with Beyond the Tent readers and anyone she can help face-to-face.
Renee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org