Your Arizona Summer Camping Guide

A camping tent sits outside in the beautiful mountains of Arizona.

With its stunning landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and rich history, Arizona is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. But summer brings a special kind of magic to the state. As scorching temperatures grip the lower deserts, higher-elevation forests and mountains transform into cool escapes, perfect for camping adventures.

This guide will equip you to plan the ultimate Arizona summer camping trip, from choosing the perfect campground to packing essentials and exploring nearby attractions. So, dust off your gear, pack your sense of adventure, and get ready to experience the beauty of Arizona’s diverse summer camping destinations.

A view of the rock forest at Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona.

Arizona Summer Camping Destination: Finding Your Perfect Oasis

Arizona boasts a wide range of camping options, catering to every style and preference. Here’s a breakdown of some popular summer camping destinations:

  • Mountain majesty. Escape the desert heat and find cool respite in Arizona’s many mountain ranges. With its ponderosa pine forests and stunning vistas, the Mogollon Rim offers numerous campgrounds like Lockett Meadow Campground and Woods Canyon Lake Campground. Northern Arizona’s Kaibab National Forest, bordering the Grand Canyon, provides access to campgrounds like Grand Canyon Village Campground, Mather Campground, and DeMotte Campground.
  • Lakeside living. Arizona’s lakes offer a refreshing escape and a chance to enjoy water activities like swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Woods Canyon Lake near Payson, Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area east of Show Low, and Luna Lake in the White Mountains are all popular choices.
  • Desert delights. For the adventurous soul, high-desert camping offers a unique experience. At higher elevations, places like Mount Lemmon Campground near Tucson and Cave Creek Campground near Chiricahua National Monument provide cooler temperatures and stunning desert scenery. Just remember, desert camping requires extra preparation due to the potential for extreme heat during the day and cold nights.

Beyond the established campgrounds, Arizona offers dispersed camping opportunities on public lands. These spots can be more rustic and require self-sufficiency, but they often have breathtaking views and solitude. Always check with the land management agency, like the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, for regulations and permits before venturing into dispersed camping areas.

Camping Tips: Be Prepared for an Arizona Summer Adventure

Planning and preparation are critical to a successful Arizona summer camping trip. Here are some essential tips:

  • Beat the heat. Choose a campground at a higher elevation to escape the scorching desert temperatures. Pack plenty of water, breathable clothing, and sun protection. Plan activities for the cooler mornings and evenings, and consider seeking shade during the hottest part of the day.
  • Pack smart. While Arizona summers are dry, sudden monsoons are not uncommon. Bring a rain fly for your tent and waterproof gear. Pack light, breathable clothing and a long-sleeved shirt and pants for cooler evenings. Remember a headlamp or flashlight, a first-aid kit, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a reusable water bottle.
  • Be fire-aware. Many areas in Arizona have fire restrictions during the summer months due to the increased risk of wildfires. Always check fire restrictions before your trip and adhere to all campfire regulations. If campfires are allowed, use designated fire rings and extinguish them properly before leaving.
  • Respect wildlife. Arizona is home to various wildlife, including bears, javelinas, and rattlesnakes. Store food properly in airtight containers, and never leave food unattended. Learn about proper wildlife interaction practices and know your surroundings while hiking and exploring.
  • Leave no trace. Arizona’s natural beauty is a treasure to be preserved. Follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your environmental impact. Pack out all trash, leave campsites clean and debris-free, and respect the natural flora and fauna.
A Saguaro cactus desert scene in Saguaro National Park, Arizona.

Outdoor Activities: Embracing the Arizona Summer Adventure

With your campsite secured and essentials packed, it’s time to explore the wonders that Arizona has to offer:

  • Hiking and backpacking. Arizona boasts an extensive network of trails, from easy, family-friendly paths to challenging multi-day backpacking adventures. The Grand Canyon National Park, Saguaro National Park, and Chiricahua National Monument are just a few iconic destinations with incredible hiking opportunities.
  • Stargazing. Arizona’s clear skies and minimal light pollution make it a stargazer’s paradise. Many campgrounds are located in areas with excellent nighttime views. Relax by the campfire and marvel at the Milky Way, or bring binoculars for a closer look at celestial wonders.
  • Hiking and canyoneering. Arizona offers world-class hiking and canyoneering opportunities for the thrill-seeker. Joshua Tree National Park and Red Rock State Park are must-see destinations for outdoor enthusiasts who can’t bear to end a trip without first gaining some serious elevation. 

Store Your Arizona Camping Gear With Central Self Storage

When all’s said and done, you’ll be left with fond memories and a car full of camping gear. Instead of cluttering up your garage with dusty camping supplies, we suggest a more elegant alternative: self storage. 
Central Self Storage offers convenient storage units across the state of Arizona, including Glendale, Mesa, and beyond. So, what are you waiting for? Contact us today to rent a storage unit and let your Arizona outdoor adventures begin.