Traversing Arizona’s National Parks - Native Campervans

Traversing Arizona’s National Parks

Arizona has more to offer than spas, excess heat, and golf courses. Home to three stunning national parks that will absolutely take your breath away. Unique landscapes, vegetation, and rock formations make Arizona’s national parks a must-see. Pick up your campervan rental at our Phoenix location and get ready to experience Arizona in all its glory!

Whether you’re a national park enthusiast, looking to ditch the snow during winter months, or simply living that #desertlife; traveling through Arizona’s national parks will fill your cup and your viewfinder! Let’s get started.

First Stop: Saguaro National Park

Saguaro is situated outside of Tucson, Arizona, and is home to the largest cacti in the United States. If you are a succulent lover and dream of being towered over by large cacti and succulents, you need to visit Saguaro National Park.

When you enter Saguaro, you’ll feel like you’ve entered another world. Rock formations dot the skyline and make silhouettes of tall and imposing cacti throughout the park. Hikers will feel as if they are traversing Mars or another planet.

Before we get into activities, we will need to park your campervan somewhere. We’ve listed a few of our favorite campgrounds around Saguaro National Park.

Camping Near Saguaro National Park

Sleeping at Gilbert Ray is like sleeping in Saguaro National Park. Beautiful cacti surround each campsite. Additionally, this campground is in the Tucson Mountains and is the closest campground to Saguaro National Park. You’re only 3.6 miles from the park entrance.

Not only is it the closest but it offers modern amenities like flushing toilets, tables, and charcoal fires. From this campground, you’ll have access to mountain biking and interesting wildlife viewing.

At night, you’ll experience the vast sky full of stars. This campground presents the best stargazing opportunities because it is 13 miles away from any city lights. Reservations can be made online!

The Catalina State Park Campground is a great jumping-off point to explore Saguaro National Park. This campground offers flush toilets, hot showers, and a BBQ grill at every campsite.

When you’re not playing in Saguaro National Park, Catalina State Park offers several hiking trails straight from the campsite. While this campsite is a little further than Gilbert Ray Campground – it’s located 16 miles from Saguaro National Park – you’ll have the opportunity to explore more of Arizona by staying within one of the state parks. Reservations can be made online!

Finally, Molino Basin Campground is a great option for campervan travelers on their way to a fun weekend at Saguaro NP. Molino Campground is in the Coronado National Forest. This campground is open year-round. It is a first come first serve the area and has the least amenities of the other two campgrounds we’ve recommended.

Off-Grid Camping

If you’re an off-grid camper, this is a great option for you! You’ll have access to hiking, biking, and other recreational options. You’ll need to bring your own drinking and cooking water to this campsite. Saguaro National Park is 17 miles from Molino Basin Campground.

Now that you’ve decided where you’re going to sleep for the night, let’s get to some fun activities to add to your visit list. Hiking is a main attraction for visitors to Saguaro National Park. Some of our favorite trails include:

If you’re not big into hiking there are other opportunities to take advantage of Saguaro National Park such as picnicking at the Signal Hill Petroglyph Area, taking a jaunt through the cactus garden, or catching the sunset/sunrise from the Javelina Rocks pull-out, or from Gates Pass on the west side.

Second Stop: The Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest Arizona National Park in campervan rental
Corner wall of Agate House with a landscape view at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, US. Adobe Stock

The Petrified Forest National Park is slightly different from Saguaro National Park. This park is full of petrified wood. Petrified wood? Yep, you read that right.

This park is located along Route 66. It is one of the largest and most colorful concentrations of petrified wood; rolling hills, portions of the painted desert, and historic structures make up the magic that is Petrified Forest National Park.

Before we get into activities, let’s find a place to sleep. Since the Petrified Forest National Park is mostly day use only, aside from a few backpacking-only sites, we’ll need to find somewhere to sleep outside the park.

Camping Near Petrified Forest National Park

Let us know in the comments which campsite you decided on, or if you discovered a new one on your travels we’d love to know! Let’s get into some activities available to visitors of Petrified Forest National Park.

We highly recommend everyone take part in the petrified wood viewing activity. Each piece of wood looks like massive crystals sparkling in the sunlight. The wood is colorful due in part to the quartz, iron, carbon, and manganese that make up its impurities. Additionally, these large pieces of wood are considered fossils. The best path to file to view the petrified woods is by walking along the Giant Logs and Long Logs paths.

Other activities include off-the-beaten-path hiking trails, horseback riding, guided tours, and even geocaching. There is something for everyone at the Petrified Forest National Park.

Third and Final Stop: Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon Arizona Road Trip Campervan

We’re sure you have heard of Grand Canyon National Park before. If not, Grand Canyon National Park is one of the seven wonders of the world. Its beauty and grace can be overwhelming and life-changing to its many visitors. If you want to learn more about Grand Canyon National Park, check out one of our many articles or action-packed itineraries.

There is so much to see and do at the Grand Canyon National Park. Before we get into that we need to find a place to park the campervan for the evening.

Camping Near Grand Canyon National Park

Once you’ve found your home away from home for your Grand Canyon visit, get to exploring the park! Grand Canyon National Park is a beautiful adventure land full of hiking, biking, rafting, rock climbing and so much more!

Let us know what you get up to on your campervan tour of the Arizona National Parks!

The National Parks in Arizona are some of the most exciting and compelling landscapes of all the National Parks in the United States. We can’t wait to hear what you got up to on your tour through these wonderful places. Finally, don’t forget to tag us on Instagram (@nativecampervans). If you stumbled across a campground or activity that we didn’t mention here, drop us a line! Happy exploring!

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