A state with a comparatively low number of national parks, Arizona’s parks still pack quite a punch, most notably Grand Canyon National Park. Each of the state’s three parks offers something unique. Read on for a guide on RV camping in each!
Grand Canyon National Park
Most U.S. citizens will visit the Grand Canyon in their lifetime (or hope to!)—more than 5 million people visit the canyon each year! The unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms make it a breathtaking sight and one that can change looks depending on the time of day and how the light hits the canyon walls.
The size is almost too much to take in so it’s recommended to see as much of the park as possible. The south rim of the canyon is open year-round while the north rim closes for winter. You can also visit the West Rim and take a walk out on the Skywalk over the canyon floor.
There are tons of activities and ways to explore the canyon: ranger programs, hiking, river trips, biking, photography, guided tours, mule trips, and more! There’s also a visitor center, geology museum, Shrine of the Ages multi-purpose building, and various fun viewing points and drives.
There are four developed campgrounds in Grand Canyon National Park: Mather Campground on the south rim, North Rim Campground, Trailer Village, and Desert View Campground.
Mather Campground, located in Grand Canyon Village is open year-round but does not have RV hook-ups. Trailer Village, also located on the south rim, is open year-round as well and features 80 full hook-up sites for vehicles up to 50 feet long.
North Rim Campground is open May 15-October 31 each year. This campground is open to RVs but does not have hook-ups. A water refill station, dump station, and coin-operated laundry and shower are on-site. Desert View Campground is open to RVs up to 30 feet long but has no hook-ups. It is also closed during the winter.
Petrified Forest National Park
Declared a National Park in 1962, Petrified Forest is located in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona and as such, is full of interesting history. The name for this park derives from large deposits of petrified wood. Petrified Forest is also known for its fossils and fallen trees from the late Triassic period about 225 million years ago.
The Painted Desert is a magnificently-colored desert of badlands that overlaps part of the Petrified Forest. Rocks in shades of lavender and red make this a photographic journey for many.
There are many trails in the park for hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, and guided tours. Check out the popular Painted Desert Rim Trail, a one-mile round-trip trail that offers spectacular views of the Painted Desert. For more information on this area, visit the Visitor’s Center or Rainbow Forest Museum.
Backcountry camping is allowed within the Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area where it is required to be a minimum of a one-mile hike from two designated parking spots. For those in RVs looking for a close spot, two gift shops outside the south entrance of the park at the junction of the park road and Highway 180 offer overnight parking in their parking lots.
Private campgrounds in nearby communities of Holbrook, Sun Valley, Saint Johns, and Joseph City are also an option. Camping is also available nearby in Canyon de Chelly National Monument.
Nearby National Forest Service campgrounds are available in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and Coconino National Forest. Camping is also available in nearby state parks Homolovi Ruins, Fool Hollow, and Lyman Lake.
Saguaro National Park
Tucson, Arizona is home to the nation’s largest cacti known as the Saguaro. These plants are only found in a small part of the United States and receive protection by the national park located east and west of Tucson. The park is divided into two areas, the Tucson Mountain District and Rincon Mountain District, all of which includes beautiful southwestern flora and fauna including, obviously, the saguaro cactus.
The most popular activity in this 92,000-acre park is hiking; there are over 165 miles of trails to hike. Overnight backpacking trips are available as well. A fun site to visit and just .1 miles is the Signal Hill Petroglyph Area. This site has over 200 prehistoric Native American petroglyphs from 550 to 1,550 years ago, many of which can be seen from a visitor trail. Visit the cactus gardens for a great view of all the many varieties in the park!
Unfortunately, there are no established campgrounds in Saguaro National Park. There are, however, several campgrounds and RV resorts nearby to stay at. Rincon Country has RV resorts at the west side of the park and the east. The west park has 1,100 sites including deluxe, pull-through sites and the east has 460. Both have full hook-ups, showers, laundry, a gym and fun on-site amenities like heated pools and a spa, tennis and other games, a billiards room, pottery room and more.
Gilbert Ray Campground has 130 RV sites with 30-amp electrical hook-ups. It also has water, picnic tables, restrooms, and a dump station. The Tucson Lazy Days/KOA RV Resort has 411 sites including grassy luxury sites and new sites with patio and fireplaces. The resort has two pools, hot tubs, and a nine-hole putting green.
The Voyager Hotel and RV Resort has a whopping 1,576 RV sites with access to resort amenities like gym, golf, health and spa services, and on-site dining. The Mission View RV Park (55+) is home to 152 RV sites with full hook-ups, patios, and picnic tables. Laundry and showering facilities are available on-site as is access to the clubhouse with a billiards room, activities room, ballroom, library, and indoor heated pool and hot tub. There are also shuffleboard courts, a horseshoe pit, and a cactus garden.