Summer is meant for relaxing, exploring and vacationing — ask any RV owner. But, when you live in one of the country’s hottest states, there are a few things to consider when planning your next RV adventure.
Most campers want to know how to stay cool during Arizona’s sweltering summer months, where to find the best RV sites in the state or across the Southwest and how to discover some of the area’s true hidden gems.
No adventure begins without planning first, and with the rise in popularity of camping in general and RV camping specifically in recent years, some of the most coveted spots may fill up fast. That’s why it’s important to do a little research before heading out on the road to ensure that your summer RV excursion (or excursions, if you’re lucky enough to get out multiple times) is the best it can be.
It is not easy to stay cool in Arizona, or the Southwest, in the summer. Pools and air conditioning help, but staying indoors can lead to cabin fever and not everyone has access to a swimming pool — even in the desert.
That’s why the best way to stay cool during Arizona summers might be to leave!
RV owners don’t need to travel too far to find respite from the scorching heat of the Phoenix area during the summer, since a number of mountain destinations offer cooler temperatures, welcome thunderstorms and proximity to water.
Some of the most celebrated, cooler destinations include the White Mountains, Flagstaff and the Mogollon Rim. In these areas, cover from mature forests offer shade while the increased elevation tamps down the mercury just a bit.
In each area, RV owners will have luck finding luxury RV resorts, primitive camping opportunities on public land and RV campsites. And, in each area, RV campers have the opportunity to camp near water — be it a lake or a creek — offering the chance to cool off with a quick dip.
Best RV Sites
Finding the best RV sites in Arizona is very likely a subjective task. “Best” means different things to different campers. To some, it might mean absolute solitude. Others might prefer a raucous gathering, a lakeside perch or a hideaway in the thick of a forested mountain.
To each their own, right?
So, how do you find the best RV sites in Arizona, or even the best RV sites in the Southwest, that check every box for you? There are a few ways.
Ask around. Campsites are full of valuable resources for RV owners eager to discover new spots to explore. For starters, the camp host may know of really great spots near or far that may offer the exact experience an RV owner is looking for. Just ask. The same goes for fellow campers. Strike up a conversation and you may be surprised what you learn from others in the campground.
And don’t forget to ask for suggestions on social media or in person, from friends. A personal recommendation always means more than an online review (although, those can be helpful, too!).
National Parks. The greatest part about scoring RV campsites in or near national parks is the benefit of watching the park fall asleep every night and hearing it wake up every morning, before everyone else. Not only are the sites relatively inexpensive, but they are tucked inside or near some of the country’s most incredible scenery.
And, since it’s all protected, the wildlife in the parks are comfortable roaming, facilitating campsite visits from curious deer and friendly foxes, look-ins from elk, and even unexpected (but not uncommon) encounters with bison — if you’re in the right park.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of securing an RV campsite inside a national park is the ability to go hard all day, maximizing the opportunity to explore the park, and easily collapsing in exhaustion when you’re done without having to travel to a hotel or rental.
However, securing an RV campsite inside a national park takes research and planning. Visit recreation.gov months in advance of a scheduled trip to thoroughly understand the reservation process and protocols, because every park is different.
In our current Instagram era, it’s more appealing than ever to discover one of Arizona’s hidden gems while camping in your RV. However, some of them are so hidden, so tucked away and rugged, that they don’t offer hook-ups and may only offer limited spots.
It’s just something to keep in mind. So, if you’re able to camp in a self-contained way, it makes experiencing these showstoppers that much easier. Here are some tips on how to find memorable spots for your next RV excursion.
Host sites. In recent years, “sharing” has become trendy. From ride-sharing to garage-sharing to pool-sharing…and now, camp-sharing. Take advantage of the trend by scrolling through listings on host sites like Hipcamp and Harvest Hosts to find a truly hidden gem.
Harvest Hosts has secured a number of sites in unusual locations — think breweries, wineries and farms. But, the spots are limited. In Arizona, they offer a single RV space at Flagstaff’s Mother Road Brewery and space at a southern Arizona alpaca farm. The best part? They sites don’t require any RV fees.
Hipcamp allows hosts to post listings for space on their personal property for others to use. While some are simple campsites, others are positioned on farms, offer treehouses or sit near a creek. The site offers no shortage of unique options and allows RV owners to experience an area in a new way.
Instagram. Influencers and outdoor accounts sharing visually stunning and captivating destinations on Instagram may offer inspiration for hidden gems for RV camping. Sometimes the posts don’t give away the destination, so some additional digging might be required. But, sometimes the photographers tag where the photo was taken or mention the name of it or nearby landmarks.
While some sleuthing may be required with this method of research, it will likely pay off with a camping spot that checks all the boxes — from water to cliffs to sparkling night skies to canopies of trees. If all else fails, try messaging the account to see if they will spill where a certain destination is. They may even offer travel tips!
At I-10 RV Storage, we’ve designed our Southeast Valley facility with every RV owner in mind. Our concierge-style amenities, covered parking and prime Southeast Valley location are just a few benefits of storing with us.
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