Photo by Christoph von Gellhorn on Unsplash
Camping is one of life’s most joyous, simple pleasures. For those who love the outdoors, camping allows us to relax and experience nature in a way that we might not otherwise get to achieve.
There are many ways to camp, and not all camping is created equal. You can tent camp, RV camp, car camp, “van life” it, or even stay in a cabin or a yurt. These different ways to experience camping boil down to time spent in nature.
If you’re wanting to get away from it all this weekend, here’s a list of campsites near Phoenix- paid, free, and even cabin rentals - that you might have previously overlooked. These are great sites for campers of all levels and inclinations.
Happy camping, Arizona!
The Cactus Rose Ranch (Paid Private Land)
½ a mile down a dirt road near northern Scottsdale there’s a working ranch waiting for you to car camp, RV, or live your best van life. If stellar mountain views and spectacular desert sunsets make you go “YES PLEASE”, you’ll love this 11-acre ranch.
Close to hiking, biking, and horseback riding so there’s plenty of outdoor fun for everyone. This hidden gem features kind hosts, goats, and farm fresh eggs. Be warned though, the camp area is not actually all that private.
Horsethief Cabin (USFS Paid Cabin)
Located at 6,000 feet in the Bradshaw Mountains, this historic cabin has running water, electricity, and propane heating. The cabin can fit up to six people in its four beds (two twins, a queen, and one double futon).
There is indoor plumbing and one bathroom with a shower. The kitchen has basic amenities like a stove, fridge, microwave, and a table with chairs. Outside there is a fire ring, picnic table, and pedestal grill.
Robin’s Butte (Free Dispersed Camping)
BLM Land perfect for a brief getaway. There’s cell service (if that matters), with some good little camping spots down a washboard dirt road. Several designated camp spots on the road should be easy to negotiate - although you may need a higher clearance vehicle.
This is dispersed, primitive camping (“boondocking” for you RV’ers). There is a lot of wildlife nearby, and you need to be aware of hunters during the season.
Usery Mountain Regional Park (Paid Developed Campground)
Beautiful and quiet, with access to showers and bathrooms perfect for any camper who doesn’t want to completely “rough it”. This county park campground features towering saguaros, and can even accommodate a fifth-wheel rig.
Easily accessible dumping station, showers, electricity, and water hookups. Plenty of privacy at the sites, and you can still hear the wildlife in the distance at night.
Gold Canyon (Free Dispersed Camping)
Good cell phone service with a large parking area perfect for big rigs. Remote enough that you’ll be alone. The site sits on State Trust Land and is perfect for those who want to get away but don’t feel like paying for a campsite.
The area is far less populated than the cottonwood-shaded site nearby and can fit three or four rigs in the area. Be warned that you may need a permit to access the land. You can find out more about Arizona State Trust Land here.
Tortilla Campground (Paid Developed Campground)
Gorgeous campground in the Tonto National Forest that will give any camper Old West vibes - you won’t want to leave. Set in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountain scenery, the campground is clean and friendly.
Sites are well suited for rigs less than 30 feet. Each site has sewer and water. There isn’t much in the way of cell phone service, although the drive to the campsite is beautiful. Close to hiking and biking sites with plenty of stargazing options.
Sycamore Cabin (USFS Paid Cabin)
Built during 1938 as a residence for the district ranger, this Prescott National Forest Cabin has running water, electricity, and even AC. The cabin has a fenced-in yard and can accommodate up to 8 people if two are in an RV. The cabin itself sleeps six (one double, four twin bunk beds).
The cabin has a toilet, shower, sink, electric range, refrigerator, and basic kitchen amenities. The cabin sits on the edge of Sycamore Creek and is perfect for fishers, hikers, and those wanting to enjoy the wildlife of the area.
The Gold Bar Ranch (Paid Private Land)
Where you can paddle, swim, and fish at your own little watering hole in the high desert. If you’re looking to spend a relaxing time in the Bradshaw Mountains this weekend, this little swimming spot will do the trick.
Large community fire pit and the spot can easily accommodate large groups of people looking for a secluded reunion or get-together. There are showers on-site! The little touches, like the pond lights, friendly hosts, rope swing, and pond deck really make this site something special.