Flagstaff is a popular spot among many outdoor enthusiasts. From the San Francisco Peaks to extraordinary natural attractions, there is a great variety of scenic landscapes and an abundance of areas to explore.
There are also plenty of places to camp in Flagstaff and its surrounding areas. Whether you are looking forward to getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city or just want to spend some time outdoors, northern Arizona has something for everyone.
If you are looking for various spots to camp and explore, the first step would be to get a map. The Coconino National Forest office provides a number of maps to help you navigate to your new favorite spots and connect with nature. You are also able to discover new places that may not be as populated and offer dispersed camping to the community.
For those that have traveled or are originally from Flagstaff and are looking for a peaceful camping experience, the Hart Prairie Preserve is just the place. Within the 1.8 million acre dense forest that flows through and around the city, this place is home to hundreds of miles of hiking trails and camping spots that offer breathtaking views that will never get old.
This area is filled with aspens and a variety of wildflower meadows whose colors will catch your eyes. The San Francisco Peaks will be right in front of you and the thick beautiful forest will be surrounding the camp spot you choose.
Corinna Haines is a local who has grown up camping with her father for her entire life. Haines tries to get outside as much as possible so when she does, she said she knows all the perfect spots.
“One of my all time favorite spots is up near Hart Prairie,” Haines said. “At that particular elevation, you get this amazing blend of aspens and ponderosas and get to camp in an open field which is always better in my opinion.”
Another great area for those searching for a more easy camping experience is Canyon Vista Campgrounds. This campground has multiple facilities for campers to use. Each of the 14 single-unit sites comes equipped with a picnic table, fire ring and cooking grill. There are also toilets and drinking water available for campers to access.
There are many different activities campers can participate in; everything from hiking, horseback riding and rock climbing to sight seeing and wildlife viewing can be done here. If none of these activities are ones you want to participate in, it is also a great spot to explore the surrounding canyons, streams and deep forests. Only 15 minutes away from the heart of Flagstaff, Canyon Vista Campground is a great spot to get out and reconnect with nature.
For those looking for a serene camping experience, Lakeview Campground is another area for an outdoor adventure. Located near the banks of Lake Mary, this campsite is surrounded by towering pines and offers great hiking, paddle boarding and fishing opportunities.
There is an abundance of wildlife present in the area which makes sightseeing even more exciting. There are 30 single-unit campsites that come equipped with the essential start ups for making a comfortable campground. There are some fees to be paid to camp here but the beautiful views and breathtaking wildlife make it worth it. The peaceful environment makes this campground the perfect spot to enjoy the beauty of nature.
Whether you are seeking a peaceful experience or an adventurous outdoor excursion, Lakeview Campground can give the best of both worlds and is a must-visit place in Flagstaff.
Nichole Sanchez grew up in Flagstaff and has lived here her whole life. Sanchez is a local river guide for Grand Canyon Youth. Lakeview Campgrounds is Sanchez’s top outdoor location.
“I would consider Lakeview as my go-to spot because of how immersed you are in the pines and how close you are to the water,” Sanchez said. “Not to mention it is a quick spot to head out on a whim for a camping trip.”
If campers are looking for a more adventurous trek a little bit farther away from Flagstaff, East Pocket Campgrounds near Sedona is the right place to be.
East Pocket is known for being a short ways down Woody Mountain Road from the infamous Edge of the World hike. This hike is one of the most popular hikes in Arizona consisting of a scenic view on the edge of the Mogollon Rim overlooking the impressive Sedona red rocks. Sedona is a short 30 minute drive from Flagstaff, making the trip to the East Pocket and Edge of the World hike very accessible.
It is important to remember to look at the Coconino National Forest guidelines to make sure you are able to camp in a specific area or campground.
Jeremy Haines, an archaeologist and father of Corinna Haines, has been working as a supervisory exhibit specialist for the National Park Service for many years and knows his way around Flagstaff’s campgrounds. Haines mentioned some very popular campgrounds may begin to be closed off to the public for various reasons.
“Folks do need to check the Coconino National Forest website,” Haines said. “You notice there's a lot of restrictions immediately adjacent to the town, but a short distance away, there's lots of ample camping but many of the places are under stage one fire restrictions.”
No matter the type of camping adventure you are seeking, northern Arizona’s parks and campgrounds offer diverse scenery and unique experiences.
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