Enjoy the Outdoors in Comfort
There’s a common misconception that you must endure some sort of discomfort while camping, or that it’s just not possible to be comfortable in the campground. Some people wear discomfort like a badge of honor, but others learn to adapt and use the tools and knowledge at hand to prepare for a comfortable camping experience no matter where the adventure takes them. We’ve put together this great guide to help you squash the learning curve so you can enjoy a pleasant campground experience during your next visit, regardless of your personal camping proficiency level.
Choosing a Camp Spot
We’ve made this one easy and have taken the guesswork out of choosing the right spot. With 1,500 clean, comfortable campsites in Arizona’s state parks, you have plenty of options as a foundation on which to build the perfect camping trip.
Step 1- Use this page to help you decide which park to visit based on available activities and your interests. After you’ve selected a park, click on the “Campground Reservations” button for that park.
Step 2- Choose dates from the calendar and click “Select Campsites” and you will be taken to the map page.
The map page is where the first part of your comfortable camping trip begins! Look at the map and decide what type of experience you prefer. Which region of the state would you like to explore? Would you like to reserve a spot near the restroom? Maybe you’d like to camp near trail access so you can be the first one up the mountain each morning. Do you want the tranquility of a more secluded spot or a campsite by the lake? Use this map to choose your adventure then check out the next step…Packing for your trip!
Pro Tip: Learn about park events before your trip. Knowing which events are offered at each park may help you decide which one to visit.
Pack For Success!
The items you bring on your trip can determine your comfort at the campsite. We’re going to focus on clothing and personal items below, although check out this resource for more info about packing for your trip.
Did you choose a desert or high-country park? Will you be camping during summer or winter? Set the scene for your trip from a 30K foot view and determine your environment before packing. Did you check the weather? There are annual temperatures posted on every park page as well, so you can get a general idea when you’re planning. Check the weather forecast again a couple days before your trip because Arizona weather can change on a dime! If it looks like you’re in for a little precipitation or extreme temps during your planned stay, and would rather not tackle that challenge just yet…That’s okay! *Simply go back in to your account and select new dates!
Now that you know where you’re going, what to expect, and what the forecasted weather is, you have a great idea about which clothes you will need to pack based on your individual comfort level.
A few important notes about packing for your trip.
- Layer! Use a base layer in cold weather and remove layers when the day warms up or if you’re engaged in strenuous activity. Put layers back on as the day gets cooler in the evening.
- Bring extra clothes. Prepare for unforeseen circumstances and bring extra clothing – especially for kids who may get wet/dirty when playing in the park.
- Plan for the worst. Even though the forecast says sunny and 75 all weekend, that doesn’t mean Mother Nature won’t throw you a curveball!
This often-overlooked step is crucial to combat unforeseen injuries. Keep pathways open and free of clutter. If you’re able to move freely in camp, and know where everything is, then you’ll be that much closer to the comfort of home. Mark guy lines with fluorescent flagging tape or another bright object, and be sure to place your cooler in the shade, regardless of season.
There are a variety of products on the market that guarantee sleep comfort in the campsite. Foam pads, inflatable mattresses, and cots are the three most popular because they are available in shapes and sizes to fit the comfort expectations of a wide variety of body types. The only way to know for certain which one is for you is to try them out! Take a look at this helpful camp sleep system resource to learn more about sleeping bags, cots, pads, and what to know before your purchase.
Pro Tip: Download this camping checklist before your trip!
Kristen's Comfort Tips
Kristen Keogh has a deep connection with the outdoors but like most of us, enjoys her time outside even more when she’s comfortable out there! Find out what she does to extend her time exploring Arizona’s beautiful places, then plan a trip to try out her awesome tips to help you camp comfortably!
We all have them, and they should be brought to camp if they accentuate your outdoor experience! Need a special pillow to get the best shuteye? Bring it! Only like hot coffee? Get a campsite with electric hookup, and bring your coffee maker! We’ve even seen tent campers break out a microwave to make meal time quick and easy, or bring a blow dryer to speed up getting ready in the morning! The bottom line is that in order to spend an extended amount of time in a somewhat unfamiliar environment, sometimes we need help from home to be comfortable and successful. And that’s okay!
Great Campgrounds for Beginners
Any one of Arizona’s state parks could be considered a great spot to camp for beginners, but we usually suggest one close to home for first-time campers. Camping close to home gives you flexibility, plus, if you forget something, it’s so easy to just run home and grab it! Many of our parks are located near Arizona’s population centers and offer comfortable camping experiences for new outdoor lovers, or anyone that likes the convenience of city life within reach of rustic outdoor experiences. Take a look at our suggestions for the best camping parks for beginners, then plan a trip!
Lost Dutchman State Park
Apache Junction, AZ
This gorgeous Central Arizona park is home to wonderful camping experiences with a side of local lore. Located just outside Apache Junction, AZ, Lost Dutchman State Park is within quick and easy reach of literally millions of Arizonans!
Catalina State Park
Resting comfortably at the base of Tucson’s Catalina Mountains, Catalina State Park is a popular hiking centric park with a spacious campground and rangers ready to help you navigate the outdoors.
Lake Havasu State Park
Lake Havasu City, AZ
Colorado River Country will leave you in awe of Arizona’s “West Coast” and it’s comforting to know that Lake Havasu City is just minutes away from the spacious campgrounds.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park
This scenic Cottonwood, AZ park showcases the beautiful diversity of the Verde River Valley and gives campers peace of mind in knowing town is just minutes away.