A Beginner's Guide to Camping in Arizona

1. Pick up skills

Discover your inner adventurer with an Arizona Family Campout. Facilitated by Arizona State Parks and Trails, this one-night adventure for beginners demystifies the experience. Learn skills like how to pitch a tent and manage your water while hiking, plus fishing and geocaching at some of the state’s most iconic destinations including Catalina and Patagonia Lake State Parks. Be sure to book early, as spots fill up quickly. See upcoming dates at

A Beginner's Guide to Camping in Arizona
Patagonia Lake State Park, Nogales (Credit Arizona State Parks & Trails)

2. Select your site

Arizona State Parks and Trails has taken the guesswork out of deciding where to camp. Its website offers details like the number of campsites and available amenities at parks across the state. Browse parks by interest (horse trails, hiking, swimming), explore what makes each park unique and reserve a cabin or campsite at or 1-877-MY-PARKS.

A Beginner's Guide to Camping in Arizona
Lyman Lake State Park, St. Johns (Credit Arizona State Parks & Trails)

3. Pack and prepare

In addition to the basics (think shelter, layered clothing, food and water, sunscreen, toiletries and bug repellant), you’ll need to bring essentials like a headlamp or flashlight, map/GPS system, first-aid supplies, fire starters, a towel and soap, toilet paper and cookware.

A Beginner's Guide to Camping in Arizona
Grand Canyon Rim to Rim (Credit Siera Whitten)

4. Get your gear

Not ready to invest in a tent just yet? No problem. This and other camping essentials are available for rent at places like Peace Surplus in Flagstaff, Arizona Hiking Shack in Phoenix and LowerGear Outdoors in Tempe.

5. Stay safe

The great outdoors are better when you’re prepared. Before leaving, check weather conditions, leavea trip plan with a trusted contact and bring a map or download trail information on your phone. (Bonus for bringing a solar charger or extra battery.) While you’re out, always stay on trails and steer clear of wildlife.

A Beginner's Guide to Camping in Arizona
Grand Canyon Rim to Rim (Credit Siera Whitten)

6. Appreciate AZ

While camping, protect Arizona’s natural splendor by following the seven Leave No Trace principles: Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife and Be Considerate of Other Visitors.
Learn more at

A Beginner's Guide to Camping in Arizona
Patagonia Lake State Park (Credit Elisabeth Brentano)

8. Share a selfie

Sometimes your outdoor adventure is too good to keep to yourself. Share a spectacular sunset snap or a victorious selfie from atop a summit and tag #VisitArizona and #AZStateParks. And follow both accounts to stay inspired by Arizona’s flora, fauna, history and people. After all, someone else’s post may just be your next camping trip.

A Beginner's Guide to Camping in Arizona
Superstition Wilderness (Credit @flossinjen)

Article originally published in the 2021-2022 Arizona Official State Travel Guide by Miles Partnership.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Exline

Elizabeth Exline is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in local and national publications. She believes frequent stops for food is the best way to survive a road trip. Find more of her work at


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