Before I dig into this post, I want to give you all a flashback into my life. I was 15 years old and on an overnight camping trip. Food wasn’t cooked properly. There was an obscene amount of rain. Sleeping bags were set on an incline. No sleep. Just sliding down a hill towards a lake. And then there were non-human eyes that reflected back at me in the middle of the night. I don’t consider myself high maintenance, but this experience crossed my boundaries. At that moment, I swore off camping.
Fast forward roughly (cough, cough) 20 years. Here I am in the Valley of the Sun with summer temperatures that feel as though we are living on the surface of the sun. With kids, options to escape regularly are limited, usually inconvenient, and my husband doesn’t have enough travel points for that. After years of me avoiding camping in Arizona like the plague, it suddenly seemed like our only sane option to catch a break from the heat and get out of town.
After some thought and deliberation – and keep in mind that my husband and I are HIGHLY analytical people – we went the fully committed / semi-crazy route and purchased a camping trailer. Yes, “that there’s an RV, Clark” trailer. Yes, I realize that most people would classify this as “glamping.” But does anyone truly enjoy digging a hole in the ground? Methinks not. Our rationale here was that the trailer would allow us to leave at a moments notice and contain most of our necessities and actual beds. All we are left to do is to pack food and clothes. The hope of this plan was that having the ability to get out of town quickly, would motivate us to do it often. This is an amazing state that we live in, and our family is loving taking advantage of seeing as much of it as possible!
Our plan so far, has worked. We have been camping (on average) 1-2 times per month. Our adventures have allowed us to check out some great spots to escape with the kids while dodging the heat. And speaking of our kids, the memories that camping has allowed us to create with them have been priceless. No TV, and iPad time is reserved for the drive. They dig holes, play in lakes, go on hikes, and get dirty. We play board games, soak up time by the campfire, read books, and go to bed at 8pm. Its fantastic. Our three year old sobs when it is time to go home. I can’t lie, I cry a little inside too.
Below are a few of our Arizona favorites we have discovered so far.
This campground is a little over 3 hours from Scottsdale/PHX. The drive there isn’t the best (past Payson it is flat and boring), but once you arrive, it is quite awesome! Fool Hollow is super family friendly with playgrounds for the kids, and fishing pole and boat rental. You are located within Show Low, so you have access to a grocery store and the basics if you were in a pinch. We truly enjoyed this particular campground and plan on returning soon.
This campground is around 3 hours from Scottsdale/PHX. It is about 20 minutes from Williams, AZ if you wanted to venture out and explore that area. During our visit here, the weather was a tad chillier and windier than expected, but we still really enjoyed the campground. Lots of deer sightings on our walks and hikes. This campground is also surrounded with dispersed campsites, which means free to first come first serve. We just aren’t that adventurous yet.
This has been one of our further treks so far at a full 5+ hour drive. The scenery here is worth it though. Again, lots of spots for fishing, and there is gear and boat rental. We enjoyed the hikes here the most. Absolutely got our fill of fall weather, while it was still blazing hot back in Scottsdale.
We still feel like we have so much to explore and see! Do you go camping in Arizona with your family often? What are your favorite spots?