Arizona’s diverse climate and geography lends to some amazing campgrounds. We prefer to camp by the water whether it is a river, creek or lake. Here are some of our favorite campgrounds in Arizona
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- Desert Tortoise & Roadrunner Camp at Lake Pleasant
- Christopher Creek
- Houston Mesa
- Chavez Crossing
- Cave Springs
Camping at Lake Pleasant
If you’re looking for a campground close to Phoenix and the water you can’t go wrong camping at Lake Pleasant. You can pitch a tent or park your RV overlooking the lake. There are several hiking trails and two campgrounds. Both campgrounds have a desert setting.
The Desert Tortoise Campground is located just before the 10 lane boat ramp and has short walking distances to the water. This campground has restrooms,showers and RV dump station. Ramadas offer shade at each site.
The Roadrunner Campground is just before the Visitor’s Center and offers restrooms, showers and a playground, but is a little further walk to the water. All camp sites are considered developed in the Roadrunner campground with water and electrical hookups.
Christopher Creek | Arizona Campground
A visit to Christopher Creek is a welcome relief in the summer. We prefer campgrounds near water and Christopher Creek fits this criteria. The campsite is large enough for two tents and wooded for shade.
All of the campgrounds are a short walk from Christopher Creek. Most of the creek is shallow and can be waded through. The kids had fun catching craydads or crayfish. If you want to swim there are a few swimming holes as well.
Houston Mesa Campground
Houston Mesa Campground is a beautiful and peaceful place to stay in Payson. One of our favorite areas. Right off of the 87 the campground is located within the Tonto National Forest. The Verde River is nearby.
The campground is not right on the water. However, the Verde River is nearby and, the area offers scenic hiking opportunities including: First Crossing, Water Wheel , Second Crossing, and Shoofly Indian Ruins.
The campsites are roomy. Dogs are allowed as long as they are leashed. There are plenty of places to explore in the area. We stayed in campsite #25. The campsite had a fire pit and a picnic table with plenty of room for two tents. The above photo shows the division between campsite #25 and campsite #19.
Things to know:
The campsites are surrounded by trees and brush, so it feels very secluded. Bathrooms have flush toilets and running water. There are several stations for drinking water. The campsite is divided into three parts: tents, RVs, and campsites that allow horses are across the street.
Some of the sites are close to 87, so you may be able to hear some traffic. Downtown is less than 10 minute drive, so you are close to stores. Houston Mesa Campground is convenient to many popular hikes.
How to Get Here? From Phoenix take 87 through Payson and turn right on Houston Mesa Road (just past Home Depot) The campground is off of Houston Mesa Road in the Tonto National Forest.
Reserve Camp Site
- Water Wheel (7 miles)
- Tonto Natural Bridge State Park (12 miles)
- Strawberry (17 miles)
- Christopher Creek (35 miles)
Chavez Crossing Sedona Camping
Chavez Crossing is a group campsite. The campground is available for groups of 30 – 100 people. Parking is a little cramped. There is a large grassy area with picnic tables.
The rest of the campsites are located on a grassy bank of Oak Creek in the Sedona area. At first glance this campsite seems too close to civilization, but once we descended into the campground it felt more secluded..
Our tent site was a few feet from the babbling Oak Creek, a soothing sound to awaken to in the morning. This area is beautiful spot to hike. If you follow the creek and climb up on the rocks you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Sedona.
You can also try catching some fish or just enjoy the cool water on a hot day. Chavez Crossing is a great spot to enjoy nature.
Amenities: toilets, drinking water, picnic tables and firepits
Fun Things to Do: Swim, Hike, Fish
Directons: 2 miles East of the 179/89A intersection in Sedona. Turn Right on Oak Creek Cliffes Drive right by The Radisson Hotel
Manzanita Campground Oak Creek
Manazanita Campground is my personal favorite Arizona campground. It is a very small campground hidden in the trees. Your tent is just a few feet away from Oak Creek. This is a tent only campground.
Expect to make reservations several months in advance. We stayed here several times in the month of October and it was beautiful.
The sites are close together, but we were able to fit two tents on our campsite. Each campsite has a picnic table and a fire pit.
The campground is on the banks of Oak Creek and has plenty of towering trees for shade. There are plenty of places to explore within a short walking distance from your tent.
Amenities: Each campsite has a picnic table and a fire pit. Bathrooms and water are available. Dogs are allowed as long as they are kept on a leash. To find out more about this campground or to Reserve Camp Site Now Manzanita Campground
Cave Springs Campground – Oak Creek
A little further north from Manzanita campground is Cave Springs Campground. Sites are also situated in beautiful oak creek canyon. From the campground you can take some fun hikes to view the creek .
No Arizona camping post is complete without mentioning Mather Campground at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. If you’re looking for a tent campsite away from the main road we like the Pine Loop in Mather Campground. It is close enough to walk to the Grand Canyon Village Marketplace, but still off the beaten path so it is quieter.
The site is large enough to have two tents. As the name of the loop infers you’re surrounded by pine trees. It is also an easy walk to the shuttle stop. We enjoyed camping at the Grand Canyon. Elk were a common sight.