RVing in Southeast Arizona: Camping Tips & Top Attractions
RVing in Southeast Arizona: Camping Tips & Top Attractions
From old-timey and wild west towns to unique and scenic campsites.
By: Kenny & Sabrina Phillips
When Sabrina and I were living in our RV, we were always wondering where we would like to live permanently when we came off the road. My top requests for a location were an area that was RV friendly with low humidity and plenty of outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and boating. Southeast Arizona had all of this to offer and more!
Top Attractions & Activities in Southeast Arizona
Whether you’re a foodie, enjoy a nice glass of wine, like to take in some history or prefer hiking and biking, there is something here for you to enjoy. I am going to share some of my favorites, which are all within about an hour or so of each other!
Bisbee’s Historic Town Center
The town of Bisbee, AZ, feels like you are stepping back in time. Erie Street has even been preserved to look like it is straight out of the fifties, with cars from the era lined up on both sides of the street. Bisbee is just a great place to walk around town and take in the quirky fun vibe, but it also offers several small-town stores that sell clothing or art, and it has a great selection of restaurants and bars.
Some of our favorite places include Bisbee Good Cakes Bakery. Sabrina especially likes it here because of their great selection of vegan-friendly cake options. If you are looking for a good cup of joe, then I recommend Bisbee Coffee Company. They have a friendly staff, and you can also order deli sandwiches to enjoy at the indoor or outdoor seating.
Wild West Town of Tombstone
If you enjoyed the feeling of stepping back in time at Bisbee, then you will really enjoy Tombstone! The town has a reputation of being a tourist trap, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a very cool place to explore. See the reenactment of the gun fight at the O.K. Corral and speak with some of the actors who are dressed in period pieces walking the streets of the town. Or you can even take a horse and buggy ride! There are saloons to wet your whistle and a few restaurants offering up some comfort food.
Sonoita Wine Country
If you are looking for an area to just eat and drink, then I recommend Sonoita wine country. This is an area west of Huachuca City on 82.
One of our favorite places along this route is the Meading Room. If you are wondering what mead is, it is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey mixed with water and then they add ingredients such as fruits, spices, grains, or hops. The Meading Room makes all their meads right there on location and offers a very fun and relaxed outdoor seating area that often has live music. The mountain scenery is lovely as well.
If you prefer a more traditional wine, then Rune Winery or Arizona Hops & Vine is perfect for you. And these three locations are all within minutes of each other. If you are looking for a brew, then the Cooper Brothel Brewery is the spot for you. They also have a large food menu offering everything from salads to pub food to Mexican cuisine.
Sierra Vista Area for Trails
Now you might be looking for some way to burn all of those calories and, if you are like me, you’ll look for bike paths or hiking trails. In the city of Sierra Vista, there is a great connection of paved trails for hiking and biking - the loop is 12.5 miles long.
Just outside of the city is Kartchner State Park, which offers over five miles of beginner and intermediate hiking. These trails offer a good chance of seeing some wildlife (just remember, not all wildlife in Arizona is friendly - so keep your distance). The trails also offer great views of the surrounding mountains. Kartchner has guided cave tours as well that we hear are fantastic, but have not had a chance to explore just yet, which gives us a great excuse to visit.
Patagonia State Park
If you are looking to mix in some boating or fishing into your hiking, Patagonia State Park will be one place you don’t want to miss. Sabrina and I stayed here for a few days and really enjoyed their hiking trails with lookout points for bird watching as well as all the free-roaming cows on the trails.
We also rented a pontoon boat for the afternoon and docked it on one of the islands to enjoy a picnic. We were also allowed to bring our small dog Belle on the pontoon boat – she enjoyed all of the views of wildlife and mountains from the water as well.
Southeast Arizona’s Great Camping Options
Now for the best part! There are so many RV camping options in this area with all types of camping styles.
If you are looking for peace and quiet and don’t need hookups, we recommend staying at Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. There are several spots for dispersed camping with a 14-day limit.
If you travel with any type of off-road vehicles, this is a great location to use them and explore. You could easily spend days on their trails! If you choose this area for camping, there is a Loves Travel Stop just off of I-10 that offers a dump station and propane refill.
As mentioned earlier, Kartchner and Patagonia State Parks are incredible places to visit for the day, but they also offer some great RV campsites. These sites include water and electric with a dump station on the property.
The stargazing at night from Kartchner is amazing and well worth the stay alone, but it is also nice to be able to walk right from your RV onto their hiking trails. You get these same perks at Patagonia plus the ability to walk down to the dock and rent a boat - and if you have your own, even better!
Full-Hookup RV Resort
If you are ready to kick back and relax with full hookups and amenities, then we suggest Benson KOA. This campground has a pool, off-leash dog park, laundry facility, general store, cable TV, Wi-Fi and more. Plus, you are still close enough to enjoy all the attractions Southeast Arizona has to offer.
Best Times to RV in Southeast Arizona
I wouldn’t say there is a bad time to visit Southeast Arizona. But if you are not a fan of the heat, I would recommend visiting from October to the end of April. All of the attractions are open, and you will avoid some of the hottest months.
All the attractions I have mentioned in this article are also at a high elevation, so it is typically about 10 degrees cooler here than it would be in Tucson or Phoenix.
These are the attractions and campgrounds that Sabrina and I have stayed at so far, but we would love to hear from you about some of the fun activities you have done in this area and what we should check out next. Take care everyone, and safe travels!