Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

One Tank Trip for Arizona Camping

If you’re looking for an escape from the frosty grip of winter, look no further than the great state of Arizona. While it’s true that the weather can get a bit chilly during parts of the year, by-and-large you’ll find the dry, arid climate a welcome change from shoveling your way out of snow.

Your origin point of Camp Verde on this one tank trip is a perfect beginning for any desert excursion, being located at the center of the state like the hub of a multi-spoked wheel. As such, there are several different routes you could take, but we’ll only highlight two of them here. No matter which road you choose, you’ll want to explore the town of Camp Verde, which is the oldest settled city in the valley. It’s the site of Fort Verde, originally constructed in 1865 as a defense post against raids from neighboring Indian tribes. The fort currently serves as a museum and park area, and is well worth a visit. Horseback riding is also an option, so saddle up and see the countryside from the back of a faithful steed.

Camp Verde is also the home of Out of Africa Wildlife Park, which features more than 400 animals from a variety of species found all over the world. You can get as close as you like – and in the case of some species, maybe TOO close – to lions and tigers and bears, oh my! You’ll also examine giraffes, many species of reptiles, and even the odd wildebeest or two. Guides will take you on a photo safari, where you’ll tour the grounds from inside a bus, and you can feed some of the less-carnivorous animals. Another popular spot is the Montezuma’s Castle National Monument, as is the Cliff Castle Casino, where you can seek a different kind of adventure with full-bore Vegas-style gambling.

When it’s time to move on, (choosing Route #1) head northwest on the AZ-260 for 13 miles until you come to Cottonwood. Things have settled down quite a bit from the town’s outlaw days, but once upon a time in the west, Cottonwood was known for being the H.Q. for bootleggers and all the lawlessness associated with that kind of business. These days, Cottonwood is a place to enjoy the quiet, peaceful desert life and sit by the Verde River with a fishing pole in hand, until the end of the day when you’ll witness one of the most beautiful sunsets ever designed by Mother Nature. There are hiking trails that take you through the backcountry once walked by Native tribes, or kick off your hiking boots and take a ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad and enjoy a tour of various animals in their own habitat, along with some truly gorgeous scenery. Beautiful Arizona camping.

The historic town of Jerome is a mere 9 miles west on the 89-A, where you’ll get to enjoy Indian ruins and local ghost towns, which are just a hop and a skip from the city limits. Continuing southwest on the 89-A for another 26 miles brings you to the 89 (main highway), which runs south for 4 more miles and transports you from the 19th century to the present day, and leads into the upscale community of Prescott. This is where you’ll find more than 400 miles’ worth of hiking trails, five lakes within a very short drive, and no shortage of rocks to climb. Maybe you’ll want to tour through the shopping district, where you can find everything from handmade blankets to an expensive piece of Native pottery.

If you’re looking for a different path, Route #2 runs northeast from Cottonwood for 17 miles on the 89-A, bringing you to the very doorstep of the resort city of Sedona. This is a particular favorite return destination for Arizona camping. Folks enjoy the diversity of activities to be found in this neck of the woods. If you want to hike along the creek, take a backpack and head into the canyon. Or maybe it’s fine creek side dining you’re looking for; that can be handled, too. Want to explore the desert in a rented Jeep? Just say the word. Maybe you’d rather see the desert and watch the sky change from a chair set up outside the rig. No sweat. There are art galleries, an Old Town shopping district, and a wealth of rejuvenating spas, if that’s your taste. There’s no better place to refresh and restore mind, body and soul than right here amid the red rocks of Sedona, the end of the road on this one tank trip.

Now if we could just do something about that chimp that jumped into the RV at Out of Africa…

Woodall's Recommended Arizona RV Campgrounds