The Best Places to Go Camping in Sedona, Arizona

Pitch up at some stunning natural campsites to explore the Grand Canyon and beyond
Pitch up at some stunning natural campsites to explore the Grand Canyon and beyond | © Francisco Blanco / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Nick Dauk
20 July 2021

Welcome to Red Rock Country. Arizona has no shortage of stunning natural sites and Sedona is one of the best places to set up basecamp. There are more than 400mi (644km) of trails in Sedona alone, offering the opportunity to hike or bike for weeks without even scratching the surface of what The Grand Canyon State has to offer. Speaking of, Arizona’s iconic and underrated natural wonders are also easily accessible from the city. Park the RV or pitch a tent in one of these campsites around Sedona to explore everything this magnificent state has to offer.

The Grand Canyon

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature, Park
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Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA at dawn from the south rim.
© Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo
A landmark that hardly needs an introduction, it’s far from cliche to say that the Grand Canyon has to be seen to be believed. The mere magnitude of this 70 million-year-old natural wonder can hardly be accurately described in words, let alone photographs. It is a stunning sight that even those not terribly interested in the great outdoors simply can’t resist a visit to. Add in dozens of charming small towns circling nearly every edge of the Canyon’s rim, and you have an unforgettable visit to one of the ultimate outdoor attractions in the United States.

Just 18 Miles to the Grand Canyon Primitive Tent Site

Camping
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© Tentrr
Go off the grid at this primitive tent site just off of the Grand Canyon Junction – 18mi (29km) away from the Grand Canyon National Park. If no water, no septic and no electricity sounds like no problem, then this Little Heaven Ranch campsite is for you. Well-behaved dogs and children are welcome to stay, though quiet hours are in effect overnight. Make your stargazing a little more exciting by opting for a 15-minute ‘Star Talk’ led by a former Boy Scout Counselor of Astronomy to learn more about the cosmos hanging over your campsite.

Grand Canyon Camping

Camping
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campsite
© Tentrr
Stay close to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at this quiet campsite. Ideal for barebones campers who need a place to pitch a tent before or after their visit to one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The stone fire pit is ready to warm you up when the remarkable sunset finally dips beneath the horizon. Open vistas, mountain views and the sweet sound of silence will envelope you and up to five others in serenity.

Coconino National Forest

Forest, Ruins
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Grasshopper Point Coconino National Forest Sedona Arizona
© agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo
Unrivaled diversity makes the Coconino National Forest one of the most unique in the country. The iconic red rocks of Sedona flow into lush ponderosa pine forests, sizzling deserts and snowy alpine tundras. Canyons and mountains, lakes and streams, woodlands and more offer an exceptional array of hiking, fishing and relaxation. Camping in or around Coconino National Forest lets you experience a variety of campground settings without venturing far from the Grand Canyon, Phoenix, or wherever you plan to explore in Arizona.

Parks AZ Grand Canyon Close

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© Tentrr
Lay your head within a mile of the Coconino National Forest trail system at Half Rack Ranch. Located in Parks, only a 15-minute drive to both Williams and Flagstaff, this basic campsite invites you and as many as nine others to beat the heat in this wooded stretch of land at a cool elevation of 7,000ft (2,134m). With temperatures hovering in the low 80s, it’s never a bad idea to schedule a horseback riding tour with your campsite owner.

Riverside Campground

Natural Feature
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Happy couple holding beer cans enjoying at camp site
© Cavan Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Carefree is literally within reach at the Riverside Campground. This barebones area near the town of Carefree within the Tonto National Forest offers peaceful views of the Verde River’s convergence with the Bartlett Reservoir. Bald eagles and other birds of prey will help you scout sunfish, catfish and trout in the smooth blue waters below. Feel free to row a canoe or kayak into the lake to find the best fishing holes; the absence of motorized boats helps keep this area quiet for anyone who wants to fish, hike and camp in peace.

Riverside Trail Park

Camping
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Orange tent at Palm Canyon in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona, USA
© Stephen Taylor / Alamy Stock Photo
Looking for a place to conveniently set up camp between the Grand Canyon’s North Rim and Zion National Park? You’ll sleep soundly at Riverside Trail Park near the state border. These dual private campsites offer portable toilets and showers right off the highway connecting Kanab and Fredonia. Spend the weekend and take quick day trips to the Kaibab National Forest or Vermilion Cliffs National Monument before heading back west to Zion or the Grand Canyon.

Lake Havasu State Park

Park
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Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge on the Colorado River in Mohave County, Arizona USA
© Norm Lane / Alamy Stock Photo
Wave across the Colorado River to California at Lake Havasu State Park. Whether you’re tent camping, parking your RV, or spending the night in a cozy cabin, you’ll always wake up to a scenic shoreline with plenty of outdoor delight. Fishing, swimming and boating are par for the course at Lake Havasu and are especially tempting after an easy hike through the Mohave Sunset Trail. You’ll find more wildlife viewing in the Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge and Havasu National Wildlife Refuge just a short drive away.

Cowboys’ Starry Night

Camping
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Tent, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, United States
© RooM the Agency / Alamy Stock Photo
While cowboys and cattle may have ridden their way through these parts, you’re welcome to roll through on an ATV or Jeep for some off-road fun. Hiking up to the mountain tops will reward you with views in every direction, while dropping a lure in Alamo Lake a few miles away might give you a chance to reel in the best bass fishing in the state. Maps are available from the campsite owners if you’re seeking something specific, otherwise it’s just you and your four wheels making your way through the high desert in search of the perfect photo.

Clear Creek Campground

Natural Feature
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Arizona
© Natural History Archive / Alamy Stock Photo
The West Clear Creek winds through the Clear Creek Campground within the Coconino National Forest. Tall cottonwood trees shade this desert canyon country campsite, providing a safe home for dozens of raptors and songbirds. Whether you’re fishing for smallmouth bass in the stream or passing by cacti as you hike through the Sonoran Desert, you’ll have no problem unwinding for the weekend. Though no hookups are on-site, toilets, drinking water and parking are available. Clear Creek Campground is just off the highway, making a visit to Montezuma Castle National Monument a breeze.

Moonlight Ravine

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road trip through the southwest
© Geoff and Lyndsi Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Bask in the starlight shining upon the Arizona-Utah border at the Moonlight Ravine. You’ll have no trouble finding a sandy spot to rest along the Kanab Creek. This seasonal 30-acre (12.14ha) campsite is just off of the highway between Kanab and Fredonia, keeping you close to the best hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking in the area. Electric and water hookups are available, as is a portable toilet and shower. Take advantage of the rock-free campsite and ask your hosts for a private horseback riding lesson.

Bisbee

Historical Landmark
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Saloon on Brewery Avenue in the downtown area of the old mining town of Bisbee, Arizona, USA
© Ian G Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
The old mining town of Bisbee isn’t trapped in the past. This lively town celebrates art, music and Southwest culture with festivals throughout the year. When you’re not rubbing elbows with the locals, you can spend all day outdoors exploring the Queen Mine, The Arizona Trail, Ramsey Canyon Preserve and the Heritage Stairs of Bisbee. Hopefully you remember to bring along your passport; you can cross the border and explore hiking through Mexico’s Sonora state.

Rustic Private in High Desert

Camping
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A small pickup RV is on a camping spot under the Milky Way
© Cavan Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Steer your motorcycle, hatchback or RV into Camp Etowa and enjoy this ADA-accessible campsite. Bring everything you need to this carry-in, carry-out site but don’t sweat the water. Your thirst quencher will be provided and you can fill up extra jugs at the water mill in town. Electric hookups are available for a few dollars and a composting toilet are also on-site, as well as the many local critters that live nearby this rustic campsite.

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  • Yucca

    Architectural Landmark
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    Old motel sign in the middle of the desert Yucca, Arizona
    © Franck Fotos / Alamy Stock Photo
    As you pass through Yucca, you’ll see remnants of the historical progression that brought Route 66 through this town and, subsequently, left it nearly a ghost town. The quietness of this small town seems to be embraced by the peaceful Wabayuma Peak Wilderness Area and Warm Springs Wilderness Area on either side. You’ll find more serenity and silence if you head west to hike the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge or Dead Mountains Wilderness Area.

    Stagecoach Stellar Glamping

    Glamping
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    Stagecoach Stellar Glamping
    © Tentrr
    Dust off a patch of ground and glamp alongside a former stagecoach trail. Drive right to the campsite and settle into the high desert with your group of four. Hundreds of miles of hiking, mountain climbing and offroading will keep you busy, but don’t venture away from camp before speaking with the owners. They’ll show you maps where you can walk trails to spot interesting rock formations, areas where miners searched for gold and silver, and places where you might be able to dig up old bullet casings from when the area was used as a World War II training ground.

    Fredonia

    Architectural Landmark
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    Sunset at the South Coyote Buttes, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
    © Henk Meijer / Alamy Stock Photo
    Known as the “Gateway to the Canyons”, Fredonia offers access to much more than just the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Just opposite the Kanab across the Utah state line, Fredonia will send you to the Kanab National Forest, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Zion National Park and countless other natural wonders. You can learn more about the Native Americans who called this vast area home at the Red Pueblo Museum and Heritage Park or pay a visit in-person to the Kaibab Indian Reservation just outside of city limits.

    Heart of the Parks

    Camping
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    Tent Camping on Route 66,near Williams,Arizona. Image shot 08/2017. Exact date unknown.
    © Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
    Sunsets over the Red Cliffs of Kanab await you at the Heart of the Parks campsite. Bring your own gear for this private, barebones camping experience atop a small bluff. The lake spotted from the bluff is perfect for a swim, casting a line, or an afternoon of kayaking. You’re also welcome to rent kayaks or a tandem bike from the site owners; a bundle of fire is also available for purchase if anyone in your crew comes along empty-handed.

    Benson

    Architectural Landmark
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    Ranch in Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, Sonoran Desert , Whetstone Mountains in far distance, Upper Elgin Road near Elgin, Arizona, USA
    © Witold Skrypczak / Alamy Stock Photo
    If you want to see Arizona from above and below ground, pitch a tent in Benson. Kartchner Caverns State Park brings you well below the surface of Benson to watch the icicle-like limestone formations continue to grow. Above ground, the Benson Historical Museum charts the history of the town since the first railroad ran through it in the 1880s. Hiking through the 45,000 acres (18,210ha) of woodlands and grasslands of the Las Cienegas National Conservation area will keep you plenty busy, but Rincon Peak and Mica Mountain will undoubtedly give you an amazing bird’s eye view of the area.

    Desert Sanctuary at Rincon Peak Campsite 2

    Camping
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    Rincon Peak Campsite
    © Rincon Peak Campsite
    A total of 120 private acres (48.56ha) 10mi (16.09km) west of Benson are yours to savor at the Desert Sanctuary. Rincon Peak looms in the distance, inviting you to rough it under the stars with dry camping, get some shade in the cottages, or park your RV alongside the hookups and enjoy Arizona sunsets. At the former ashram founded by Harvard Professor Timothy Leary, you’ll spot most of the original buildings still on-site, of which you’re free to access the bathrooms, Olympic pool, hot tub, grill and game room.
    These recommendations were updated on July 20, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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