The Best Tent Camping in Arizona

The Best Tent Camping in Arizona
Given Arizona's beautiful canyons, mesas, mountains and high deserts, it is hard to pinpoint any one camping area as the best in the Grand Canyon State. There is common consensus however, that Arizona's stunning backcountry offers some of the most popular and beautiful camping opportunities in the state. Take advantage of these areas to hike, backpack, rock-climb and pitch a tent for a night in the desert under the stars.
 

Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon is arguably one of the most beautiful places in the United States where to pitch your tent. All backcountry camping in Grand Canyon National Park is done by permit only, and the system is very competitive. Each year 30,000 campers apply for permits and the park issues 13,000. Backcountry overnight permits are assigned based on user numbers and backcountry quadrants. Campers should be prepared for hot sun at night and cold nights. Bring all your own water and practice leave no trace ethics by packing out what you packed in. Pets are not allowed.

Grand Canyon National Park
P.O. Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
928-638-7875
nps.gov

 
 

Kaibab National Forest

The Kaibab National Forest is in the northern portion of the state and encompasses many different ecosystems. You can camp in red rock desert, high country pine forests or by sub alpine lakes within the Kaibab. Backcountry, or "dispersed," camping is allowed throughout the national forest that is home to some of the most beautiful and remote backcountry in Arizona. George Stocking, writing at the Great Outdoors website, puts the Kaibab National Forest in his top five best tent camping sites in the state. Check in with the rangers to find out about current closures or fire restrictions before heading out into the wilds.

Kaibab National Forest
742 South Clover Rd.
Williams, AZ 86046
928-635-5600
fs.usda.gov

Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge

For some of the most remote and crowd-free backcountry and tent camping in Arizona, head to the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in the southern portion of the state. Much of the Camino El Diablo hiking trail cuts through the refuge, spanning 127 miles. Camp and hike through mountain ranges in the Sonoran Desert. Bring lots of water, sun protection, anti-venom kits and desert camping skills. There are no campgrounds as camping is allowed anywhere along the route. Watch for desert bighorns, lizards, rattlesnakes, desert tortoises and elf owls amidst the desert cacti. The Great Outdoors website includes the Cabeza Prieta in its top ten list for camping areas in Arizona.

Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge
North Second Street
Ajo, AZ 85321
520-387-6483
fws.gov

 

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.