Winter Campervanning in Arizona - Native Campervans

Winter Campervanning in Arizona

Arizona Winter Camping

Winter is a beautiful season of snow and morning chill, but not everyone likes the cold. If you’re someone who doesn’t want the adventure to end just because the season is changing but isn’t a fan of the snow, then the desert is the perfect winter getaway for you. From national parks to forests, there is so much to see in the winter while avoiding any snowy passes. Even better, explore all of these amazing destinations in a campervan rental so you can go further, and make the most out of the Arizona winter. 

We created the ultimate winter guide for those colder months. Our Phoenix location is the perfect jumping-off point for any desert getaway. Pick up your campervan rental and find yourself in new places while creating unforgettable memories. These are all our favorite places to visit on your next road trip.

Arizona Campervan Winter

Kofa National Wildlife Refugee

Kofa National is a unique park because it was established to help protect desert bighorn sheep. This is a one-of-a-kind spot to hit on your Arizona winter campervan journey, especially if you love the excitement of seeing wildlife. The best time to view animals is dusk and dawn, so grab your headlamp, put on your wildlife scout hat, and let’s explore.

Things to do:

Wildlife Viewing: Of course, we would put this down as the first thing to do in Kofa. Though they are known for the bighorn ship, they are world-renowned for birdwatching. Since they provide a safe space for birds to nest, breed, and feed, it’s a hub for all flying creatures. They have birds, from bald eagles to condors. Purchase a bird encyclopedia from the visitor center, grab your binoculars, and see how many species of birds you can find. 

Painting and Sketching: If you are looking for a calm activity, bring along a sketchbook and some pencils and feel inspired by the stunning views. Being close to nature is a great way to spark your creativity. Find a landscape or wild create that inspires you, and start to sketch. It’s a perfectly simple way to enjoy the outdoors without breaking a sweat.

Hiking: Hiking is another great way to spot wildlife while also getting your heart rate up. Here are three epic hikes you’ll want to try.

Kofa Dam: Moderate – 7.0 Miles – Out and Back 
Palm Canyon Trail: Moderate – 0.9 miles – Out and Back 
Big Eye Mine: Easy – 1.2 miles – Out and Back

Where to Camp:

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge – This campground sits inside the park, making it more convenient. This campground has limited amenities. Book your adventure ahead of time at 
KOFA King Valley Road – If you’re looking for more freedom for camping, check out this dispersed camping area. Pull into any open spot and enjoy a night under the stars. We always recommend getting there early to secure your spot.

Catalina State Park

Cataline State Park is a great destination if you are looking for pre-planned activities. They host demonstrations, tours, and even have music! These events change throughout the year, so check before you go to see what will be going on during your stay. This park is also a great place to bring the kiddos for its educational programs. Visit their website and see all the events they have to offer.

Things to do:

Events: Like we said, this is a great spot for trying new activities. Here are some of our favorite programs.

Guided Bird Walks: They offer bird walks led by experienced bird guides on Sundays and Wednesdays. Learn more about the wildlife in Catalina from residential experts. 

Raptor Demonstration: I know what you’re probably thinking, and no, they don’t have prehistoric dinosaurs. Raptors refer to large birds of prey like falcons and eagles. Twice a month, you can spend your morning learning about their behavior, biology, and so much more. 

Catalina Nights: If you like nightlife, then this is a great opportunity to see the wildlife that roams once the sun goes down. This one-mile hike takes you through a journey of the desert, where you will learn about star constellations and the critters of the night. It’s open to anyone over the age of 5.

Hiking: If you want to explore Catalina on your own terms, then you’ll want to check out some of their epic hikes. They offer a range of hikes for all skill levels, so you are guaranteed to find one that suits you. Here are a few to try

Romero Ruins Interpretive Trail: Easy – 0.75 miles – Loop
Catalina Birding Trail Loop: Easy – 1.4 miles – Out and Back
Buster Moutain via Birding Trail: Hard – 5.2 miles – Loop

Where to Camp:

Cataline State ParkThis is the only campground that’s inside the park. It has all the amenities you would need for a comfortable and relaxing stay. Reservations are required, so book in advance.
Wishing Well RV Park – This site is located outside of the Catalina entrance. This is a great spot if you are looking to be closer to town. Reservations are required.

Lost Dutchman State Park

Lost Dutchman State Park has a rich history of mining and is named after the fabled lost gold mine. This park offers a variety of hiking and nature trails, picnic spots, and unique attractions. Enjoy a day or spend a few nights at this park.

Things to do:

Apache Trail and Dolly Steamboat Van Tour: Need a break from driving a van? Take a tour on a dolly steamboat! This doc is only 20 minutes from the park entrance and is a great way to spend a day. Soak in the sunshine while you cruise through Canyon Lake. This is an 8-hour tour, so make sure you set aside enough time. Learn more about this tour here.

Goldfield Mine Tours: If you enjoy history, this is a great activity to try. Take a 25-minute tour of the unground mind. Be transported to 100 years in the past with this one-of-a-kind tour. If you enjoy all things spooky, there is also the Goldfield Ghost Tour Walk. 

Hiking: There are many beautiful trails in the park. Embrace the scenery with one of these stunning hikes.

Flatiron via Siphon Draw Trail: Hard – 5.5 miles – Out and Back
Treasure Loop Trail: Moderate – 2.3 miles – Loop
Jacob’s Crosscut and Siphon Draw Trail: Easy – 2.3 miles – Loop

Where to Camp:

Lost Dutchman State Park CampgroundSituated in the heart of the park, this campground has stunning views and plenty of amenities. Reservations are required, so plan ahead!
Goldfield Ghost Town Dry Camping – This campground sits right outside camp boundaries and is a short walk from town. You might also get the opportunity to spot some horses! Reservations are required, and closures may happen depending on the season. Always look and book ahead!

Tonto National Forest 

Tonto National Forest is the largest national forest in Arizona. There is a range of diversity to explore. No matter which side of the forest you enter, there is plenty to do. Lost Dutchman also sits within the park if you want to combine destinations. 

Things to do:

Kayaking Trip: Although this sits 30 minutes outside the park, it’s worth the drive. Kayaking down the river is a new kind of adventure. Take a tour and explore the landscape while getting your adrenaline pumping. 

Hiking: Since Tonto is such a large forest, there isn’t a shortage of amazing hikes. Check out one of these hikes: 

Palo Verde Trail – Moderate – 8.2 Miles – Out and Back
Black Diamond – Moderate – 5.2 Miles – Out and Back
Jojoba Trail at Bartlett Lake – Easy – 2.7 Miles – Loop

Where to Camp:

SB Cove Shoreline AreaSince Tonto National Forest is so large, there is no shortage of awesome campsites. Distance from the entrance varies, as well as which entry point you will want to come in through. This stunning campground is open and right on the lake. Enjoy the stunning views while having plenty of space to run around.
Oak Flat Campground– This is another great campground. The large rock faces and greenery are bound to get anyone excited about adventure. 
Jones Water Primitive Campground – This campground is on the opposite side of the park, and is great if you are looking to explore multiple sections of Tonto. *Reminder: all three of these locations require reservations*

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park is one of our favorite spots to go on a campervan adventure from Phoenix, especially in the winter. Nothing beats hiking through giant cacti while taking in the fresh desert breeze. We love this park so much that we’ve dedicated an entire page to it! Click here and find all the best camping spots and activities inside Saguar.

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