Camping has always been a quintessential summer pastime. But why be limited to just the summer months? Luckily, the camping season in Tucson is pretty much year-round, depending on where you stay. Looking for a break from the heat? Try Rose Canyon Campground. Want a luxurious getaway but still feel close to nature? Definitely check out Miraval. What about a family-friendly spot with plenty of outdoor activities? The Tucson KOA is perfect for that. We’re only just getting started…
Housed in a classic Adobe style building and surrounded by bubbling creeks and cactus gardens, Miraval is a luxurious retreat that seemingly flows into the surrounding desert. Here you can submerge yourself in one of their many outdoor pools and heated baths, enjoy a relaxing massage or spa treatment outside, even take an award-winning cooking class. There is also an elevated ropes course, yoga studio, and outdoor meditation class for both adventure-seekers and mindful travelers. If you’re looking for a glamorous sanctuary in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, look no further than Miraval.
Catalina State Park sits at the base of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains in northern Tucson. There are two main campgrounds within the park (Loop A and Loop B), both of which are located off Equestrian Center Road. Between the two campgrounds there are 120 different sites to choose from, and each one comes with full RV hookups, a picnic table, and a grill. Best of all—nearly all of the campsites have incredible views of the Catalinas and are just down the road from all major trailheads. In addition to the nightly campground rate (about $30 per night), there is also a $5 non-refundable reservation fee and a $15 per night fee for any second vehicles.
Located on the west side of Tucson, Diamond J RV Park (sometimes called Justin's RV Park) borders 40,000 acres of park land and scenic trails. Sitting at the base of Tucson Mountain Park, Diamond J’s claim to fame is that guests can experience the most incredible sunsets every night. In addition to the painted desert views, the park also offers mini golf, tennis, bocce ball, and a large dog run. If you’re looking to stay in Tucson for an extended period of time, Diamond J does offer weekly, monthly, and annual rates. Daily rates range from $37 for standard sites to $84 for their park model homes.
If you’re looking for a campground that offers practically every imaginable activity, then be sure to check out the Lazydays KOA in Tucson. Not only are the campsites super spacious and pristinely clean, but the campground has a nine-hole putting course, a full gym, a laundry room, a nature pond, a dog run, and two swimming pools with hot tubs. Oh, and did we mention all of the fruit trees? Scattered throughout the property are citrus trees of all kinds—and all free for guests to enjoy! If you don’t have an RV or prefer to do a little glamping, then book a stay in one of the charming two-bedroom deluxe cabins.
Nestled high on the slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains, at an elevation of 7,000 feet, sits Rose Canyon Campground. Due to its location, this campground can be much cooler than some of the others in the area, but you’ll be rewarded with spacious sites and towering ponderosa pines. There’s also a small lake at the lower end of the campground, perfect for fishing or just a simple walk in the woods (no swimming allowed). Be aware that certain campsites are reserved specifically for RVs, so make sure you check the map online before booking.
Just down the road from Rose Canyon is another popular camping spot—General Hitchcock Campground. Not only is this campground close to Mount Lemmon, but it is directly across from three incredibly scenic viewpoints: Windy Point Vista, Geology Vista Point, and Hoodoo Vista. If you’re a seasoned camper or an avid backpacker, then General Hitchcock is ideal. The sites are relatively small and many are surrounded by large trees and boulders, so RVs and trailers are not recommended. There is also no running water at the campground, so be sure to bring your own.
The mission at Tanque Verde Ranch is simple: Give visitors as authentic of a dude ranch experience as possible. Guests at the ranch will not only enjoy epic views of Saguaro National Park and the Rincon Mountains, but they will also get to experience a wide variety of outdoor activities. Horseback riding, jeep tours, yoga, tennis, fishing, and “cowboy lessons” are just a few of the seemingly endless things you can do here. Most famously, Tanque Verde Ranch is known for its horseback rides, which happen at all hours of the day and for all ages and skill levels. Then, after your ride, relax around the campfire and enjoy an authentic cowboy cookout, complete with ribs, watermelon, and homemade cornbread.
Take a trip to Patagonia Lake State Park Campground and you might forget you’re in the middle of the Arizona desert. Located in the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, this 250-acre lake is surrounded by gentle, sloping hills and tall grasses. The campground here has over 100 different campsites, with options for both tent camping and full RV hook-ups. There are also 12 secluded boat-in campsites. We recommend spending at least a few days here so you can take full advantage of all the water skiing, fishing, and hiking.
Each location on our list is less than two hours outside of downtown Tucson, proving that you don’t have to travel far to experience some incredible and scenic camping. We’re confident that whatever your camping style is, you’re bound to find a match in the Old Pueblo. Just pull in, hook up, and hang out.
Banner Photo Credit: By Manuela Durson
Tucson (pronounced TOO-sawn) is the second-largest city in the state of Arizona, with nearly one million residents in the metro area.