The 7 Best Arizona Lake Camping Destinations

With mountains surrounding its rivers and lakes, the stunning landscape of Arizona offers an endless number of lake camping opportunities.

But the problem arises when it comes to choosing a spot to explore. This requires a bit of research from your end; a time-consuming task indeed!

That’s why we’ve tried to help you out by listing the best Arizona Lake Camping sites.

Patagonia Lake State Park (Incredible Area for Birders )

Arizona Patagonia Lake State Park

Patagonia Lake State Park, situated in the Southeastern part of Arizona, is now a year-round bird-watching and camping spot for bird watchers and campers. Within its woodland area is Southern Arizona’s favorite desert lake Patagonia, perfect for getting away from the monotonous city life.

Why You’ll Love It?

The roaming hills surrounding the shoreline make Patagonia Lake State Park a beautiful and well-maintained campsite. Overlooking the clear lake, the campgrounds serve as ideal spots to set up tents and park RVs. 

You can also make bookings in the 12 boat-in campsites during the summer (peak), spring, fall, and winter seasons.

It was a real bird-lover’s paradise! Sighting over 50 different species in just two weeks. You can meet many birders. Some are experts, and some have just started out in the sport.

  • People are quite friendly.
  • A great birding destination
  • Lots of benches to sit on
  • Park is very pet friendly

The Downsides

Being home to wildlife, such as gray fox, bobcat, mountain lion, and the western diamond-backed rattlesnakes, you might get unexpected visitors at night. Also, cell service here is marginal.

  • Some sites more level than others.
  • Only one dump station out of the park
  • Poor wifi in many areas
Tip: When you enter the park, be sure to get a map and a bird list. Ask the ranger where the bird trail is if your goal is to see birds at their natural habitats.

Lake Pleasant Regional Park (Good Place to See The Wild Burros)

Lake Pleasant Regional Park in AZ

Straddling the Yavapai and Maricopa county border northwest of Phoenix, Arizona, Lake Pleasant Regional Park serves as one of the major outdoor recreational hubs. With over 23,000 acres of water and a beautiful desert landscape, it’s every camper’s dream destination for adventure and action.

Why You’ll Love It?

Apart from the 148 sites, it offers for tent and RV camping, Lake Pleasant Regional Park is the ideal site for other outdoor recreation activities. Whether it’s scuba diving, fishing, stargazing, or kayaking, its convenient location makes the perfect getaway for outdoor enthusiasts, especially during the summer and spring seasons.

The lake is truly stunning, almost surreal. Most of the sites have great views, perched on individual hills around what could only be described as a picturesque landscape.

  • Hundred burros around the park
  • Beautiful lake with great hiking
  • Enough space between campsites
  • Close to the highway

The Downsides

There’s no denying that this is a serene and breathtaking camping spot, but there are only a few prime sites overlooking the lake. You’ll have to reserve these sites around six months in advance to get a booking.

  • Overcrowded on weekends

Big Lake(The Best Place for Tent Camping)

Big Lake Arizona

Big Lake, the largest high-altitude lake in Arizona (9,100 feet above sea level), is surrounded by evergreen forest and meadows. It’s also one of the premier waterfront camping spots in the state, with five campgrounds along the southern shore.

Why You’ll Love It?

With nine campgrounds to its name, including Brookchar, Cutthroat, and Grayling campgrounds, Big lake offers the best secluded and waterfront campsites. 

While Rainbow Campground offers plenty of amenities, Apache Trout has excellent sites for small and large groups of all ages. You could also go hiking along the popular Thompson Trail #629.

  • Private, quiet and wooded sites
  • Plenty of hiking trails
  • Good fishing and boating
  • Numerous dispersed campsites (Find more)

The Downsides

A drawback of this camping spot is that it’s only open from May to October. It remains closed in winter as access to the lake is restricted by snow. Also, don’t forget to carry mosquito repellent if you don’t wish to have sleepless nights.

  • Too much algae and not enough fish

Apache Lake(Best Fishing Camp)

Apache Lake in AZ

The picture-perfect desert lake is known as the “hidden gem of the salt river lakes.” It offers many dispersed camping options and is located along the Apache trail 16 miles east of Tortilla Flat, Maricopa County, Arizona.

Why You’ll Love It?

Compared to its sister lakes, Lake Roosevelt, Canyon Lake, and Saguaro Lake, Apache Lake is typically less crowded, so you’ll get to enjoy the serenity of the area in peace. 

You can enjoy the views of Painted Cliffs by pitching a tent along the shoreline. Or, simply reserve an RV hookup at the Apache Lake Marina.

This place is a dream for someone who loves fishing and boats. Lots of sport fish, including Large Mouth Bass, Crappie, and Catfish. You can bring your boat to the lake with fishing license.

  • Quiet lake with low traffic for kayaking
  • Lots of camping areas
  • Very boat friendly area

The Downsides

The drive to Apache Lake is undoubtedly breathtaking, but the one-lane dirt road is bumpy, and it winds a lot. As such, it takes quite some time to reach the destination. 

Kaibab Lake Campground (Great for Kayaking)

Kaibab Lake Campground in AZ

The Kaibab Lake Campground, sitting amidst the beautiful landscape of the Kaibab National Forest in Northern Arizona, is a popular fishing, camping, and picnic spot. With the Grand Canyon located 60 miles north, it’s a hub for recreation, sightseeing, and learning.

Why You’ll Love It?

The campsites near Kaibab Lake are spaced far apart from each other so that you won’t be near strangers. You can enjoy a day of fishing or take a trip to the Grand Canyon here. Plus, there are many shops and restaurants to visit.

The best time to visit is early summer as the climate isn’t too hot yet and it’s a beautiful season.

  • Great for hikes, fishing, kayaking
  • Well-kept campsites
  • Friendly and helpful staff
  • Clean, quite & beautiful

The Downsides

The Kaibab Lake Campground is not an ideal workstation because of the bad cell and internet service. It’s ideal for those who wish to enjoy peace amidst nature.

  • No potable water for washing
  • It doesn’t have showers or flashing toilets
  • Terrible LTE service 

Dead Horse Ranch State Park(A Lot of Hiking Trails)

The developed area of the Dead Horse Ranch State Park along the Verde River covers 423 acres of land with an elevation of 3,300 feet. Its unique ecosystem and mild temperatures make it an ideal campsite.

Why You’ll Love It?

With over 100 RV sites and eight one-room cabins available on a first-come, first-served basis, the Dead Horse Ranch State Park is ideal for family camping trips. They can be used as non-electric sites as well by not plugging into power. And generators are prohibited, so there’s no need to worry about smoke or noise. 

Just enjoy its beautiful landscape while fishing, canoeing, picnicking, hiking, horseback riding or mountain biking in the Coconino National Forest.

  • Lots of hiking trails
  • Great for bike riding
  • Excellent cell service
  • Clean and nice bathrooms

The Downsides

The maintenance staff should pay a bit more attention to maintaining the showers and restrooms of the campground. Other than that, there are no further complaints.

  • Overcrowded on weekends and holidays

Conclusion

With so many lakeside campsites to choose from, it makes no sense to delay the chance to get closer to nature. Pack all the supplies and camping gear you need and begin the adventure!

Just don’t forget to make reservations, especially if you’re planning a camping trip in the peak seasons.

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Matt Scofield
Matt Scofield

Hi! I’m Matt, an adventure freak who lives and breathes the great outdoors. Spending time under the open sky always appealed to me, even as a kid. Perhaps that’s why I liked camping with my dad so much. The days spent hiking and the nights around the campfire are times I’ll cherish forever.

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