Best Camping Destinations Near Flagstaff and Sedona, Arizona

October 5, 2017

A trip in the area surrounding Sedona, Arizona presents stunning landscapes and new experiences.

Arizona is known for its striking red rock landscapes. But, there might be something more to the enchanting atmosphere you’ll feel as you explore the Sedona area… some people believe that the red rocks here are home to energy vortexes. Whether you believe in healing vortexes and crystals, or just need a break to reconnect with nature, this part of Arizona is perfect for a rejuvenating adventure.

Your Arizona adventure begins at the impressive Walnut Canyon National Monument before heading south.

Walnut Canyon National Monument

If gorgeous scenery, jaw-dropping canyons, and ancient cliff dwellings are your thing, then be sure to start off in Flagstaff at this national monument. Walnut Canyon has an incredible way of taking you back in time and putting you in the shoes of those who lived in this part of the country long ago. The first inhabitants of the canyon are known as the Sinagua, coming from the Spanish name for the region meaning “mountains without water.” They lived here from around A.D. 600 until 1400, building their homes into the cliffs that would remain long after they were gone. Can you imagine the ways that they managed to survive? Growing food? Building shelter? Be sure to set aside at least a couple of hours to hike around the park, and prepare to walk plenty of steps while you’re there to get the full historical and scenic experience!

Teepee at Flagstaff KOA

1. Flagstaff KOA

Your unique Arizona experience can continue with a stay in a teepee at the Flagstaff KOA. But don’t expect anything too rustic; these teepees sleep up to four people in comfortable beds and bunks. A stay in one of these accommodations is perfect unique camping experience for anyone wanting to make the trip extra special. Flagstaff KOA offers some awesome amenities as well, including volcanic hiking trails, a filling and tasty breakfast to prepare you for a long day of exploring, a bounce house for the kids, and unmatched views of the stars as a certified International Dark Sky Place.. If teepees aren’t up your alley, RV and tent sites, as well as cabin rentals, are available, too.


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Lowell ObservatoryLowell Observatory

2. Lowell Observatory

Ever heard of a dwarf planet called Pluto? (Yeah, you read planet. We still appreciate you, Pluto.) Way back in 1930, a man by the name of Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in Lowell Observatory, just outside of downtown Flagstaff. Today the observatory is open 10 AM-10 PM, and you can view the night sky through telescopes, roam the grounds and learn from the various exhibits on asteroids and meteors. Guided daytime tours are also available – and highly suggested! Lowell Observatory was even named one of “The World’s 100 Most Important Places” by TIME back in 2011. This is a must for anyone even remotely fascinated by space.

3. Forth Tuthill Military Museum

Open Saturdays and Sundays, 10 AM-4 PM May through September, history and military buffs will want to be sure to include Fort Tuthill Military Museum on their trip if the season is right. Fort Tuthill is just a few miles south of Flagstaff, and was constructed in 1929 as a National Guard training facility. The museum housed here now is located in two of the original buildings, and is jam packed with history from decades ago. Soldiers of the 158th Infantry are highly celebrated and remembered here, and it show in the museum’s efforts to preserve our military history. Although the museum is small, give yourself some time to soak in all of the artifacts and reading material the knowledgeable staff provides.

Oak Creek Canyon

4. Oak Creek Canyon

Located right between Flagstaff and Sedona, continue your trip by experiencing what’s been called the Grand Canyon’s smaller cousin, Oak Creek Canyon. The canyon itself is about 12 miles long, with the beautiful Oak Creek flowing at the bottom, providing water to the greenery that stands out against the red rocks. It’s a stunning sight to see, right in Coconino National Forest. The hiking is moderately easy, give or take some water crossings here and there, and fishing is also available in the canyon.

Also, if you’re a believer in the metaphysical, or just looking to experience something totally out of the ordinary, many believe that Oak Creek and Sedona are marked by healing vortexes, swirling pockets of energy that rejuvenate. Either way, tap into the special vibes here and maybe do a little meditating!

Slide Rock State ParkSlide Rock State Park – Arizona’s Best Swimming Holes

5. Slide Rock State Park

When you’re ready for a dip in a lazy river, head to Slide Rock State Park for a refreshing canyon oasis. Slide Rock State Park is in Oak Creek Canyon and just a short 7 miles north of Sedona. It’s most notably home to an amazing natural waterslide along Oak Creek.

Chapel of the Holy Cross

6. Chapel of the Holy Cross

Even the history of the construction of the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Roman Catholic landmark, is one of interest. Sculptor and chapel commissioner Marguerite Brunswig Staude was inspired by the then-recent construction of the Empire State Building, and was planning to build a church in Budapest, but after World War II broke out, she decided to stick around her hometown and build an inspired church there. Religious or not, the Chapel of the Holy Cross is an architect’s heaven as well as a photographer’s dream. Anyone of any religious affiliation is welcome to visit, and there’s even a little gift shop!

Oak Creek Canyon

7. Red Rock State Park

Right outside of Sedona, Red Rock State Park (rightfully named), features strikingly beautiful red sandstone. Sedona is an area famed for its natural beauty, so experiencing it for yourself at a spot like Red Rock State Park is a must. Five miles of hiking trails allow for an afternoon in the fresh air, with some picture taking opportunities. Head to the visitor center where a number of exhibits will round out your experience at this impressive landmark.

8. Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Dead Horse Ranch State Park is located right on the Verde River and spans over 400 acres. While in Dead Horse, water activities such as fishing, canoeing, and kayaking are available in addition to miles of hiking trails and even guided, horseback trail rides. And don’t be freaked out by the name… the ranch located here before it was a park was called “Dead Horse Ranch,” because the family that owned it found a dead horse on the property when they were looking to buy it.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

9. Montezuma Castle National Monument

Way back in 1906, when President Roosevelt declared just four sites as the country’s first National Monuments, Montezuma Castle was on his list. This castle of cliff dwellings (90 feet up!) preserves the homes of the Sinagua people and the lives they once lived. After exploring the grounds out in the sun, check out the trails at Montezuma Well and cool off in the forest. Pack a picnic and take in the rich history of Arizona and the peoples who once inhabited it; this is a must for anyone interested in American history or simply seeing something of unique cultural significance.

Arizona presents adventurers plenty of outdoor opportunities filled with fresh sunshine, both man-made and natural landmarks, and even metaphysical mysteries. The landscapes alone are breathtaking, even if just going for a drive along the scenic roads. Spend your nights in the great outdoors in a teepee or tent, not letting one drop of the fun Arizona has to offer go to waste.

This article appears courtesy of Roadtrippers.

You gotta take this AZ road trip!




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