Kendrick Cabin

Great Arizona Campsites and Cabins

Category: Travel Issue: July 2012
Group Free

From cowboy-chic cabins and high-altitude campsites to recreation-rich mountain retreats and old fire guard stations, we've mined the Copper State for gems of nature loving lodging.

Lodging under the stars in Arizona's high country forests doesn't have to mean schlepping a tent miles into the wilderness – especially when there are plenty of drive-up, family-friendly options scattered across the state. From bare bones roadside tent lots to cushy cabins surrounded by vineyards, there's something for every comfort level. Located within short drives – or walks – from civilization, these eight destinations welcome campers of all persuasions.

Flagstaff area
Kendrick and Fernow Cabins
Experience Arizona's high country in true Old-West style in one of these retired forest service fire guard stations from the 1960s and '70s. The rough-hewn timber and masonry structures, which sleep eight to 10 people, are located off dirt roads in quiet timberland clearings.

Amenities include beds, dining areas, wood stoves, propane lights, basic kitchen utensils and outdoor seating. Campers must pack in everything else, including bedding, firewood, food, cleaning supplies and toiletries. A sporadic water supply (May-October) and "charming" outdoor water closets elevate these backcountry sleepover destinations several notches above roughin' it.

Distance from Phoenix: 166 miles
Elevation: 7,910 feet, 6,656 feet
Season: April 16-November 16, depending on weather
Rates: $75-$125
Pets: Dogs are allowed but must be kept outside and leashed at all times.
Nearest town: Flagstaff, 22 miles
Location: Kendrick: 20 miles north of Flagstaff off U.S. 180. Fernow: 22 miles south of Route 66 off Woody Mountain Road
Reservations: 877-444-6777 or

phm0712 ge4 lgDairy/Double Springs Campgrounds
Casual cookouts, hiking and wildlife watching are favorite activities at this pine-shaded site across from Arizona's largest natural lake. Built in the 1930s and refreshingly simple in style, the site offers facilities for tents, day-use and motor homes up to 35 feet (but no hookups), and each space has its own cooking grill, table and access to water and restrooms.

Visitors can enjoy ranger-hosted nature programs in the adjacent amphitheater, or burn a few calories by accessing several nearby trailheads, including 2.4-mile Mormon Mountain No. 58 – which climbs from the camp to a wooded, 8,500-foot summit – and two-mile Ledges Trail, a scenic way to observe elk wandering around the weedy swale of Mormon Lake. Also, passage No. 30 of the state-traversing Arizona Trail runs through the camp. Nearby Upper and Lower Lake Mary offer fertile fishing spots, boating and bird watching. Horse and bike rentals, plus a Western-style restaurant, can be found four miles down the road at Mormon Lake Village.

Distance from Phoenix: 168 miles
Elevation: 7,170 feet
Season: May 4-October 8, depending on weather
Rates: $16-$90
Pets: Leashed pets allowed; no horses.
Nearest town: Flagstaff, 24 miles
Location: 24 miles southeast of Flagstaff off Lake Mary Road and FR 90
Reservations: 877-444-6777 or

Grand Canyon – North Rim

phm0712 ge3 lgJacob Lake Inn
This family-owned inn bills itself as the "gateway to the North Rim" and has been providing good ol' fashioned hospitality and hearty meals since 1923. Its proximity to national parks – Grand Canyon (44 miles), Bryce Canyon (112 miles), and Zion (85 miles) – make it an ideal base camp for summer touring or a rim-to-rim hike. In addition, the Vermilion Cliffs, Lake Powell and Navajo and Hopi reservations are just hours away. The forest-fringed inn has refreshing, technology-free cabins, Internet-and-cable-wired hotel rooms and no-nonsense motel lodging, as well as on-site and nearby bike rental, horseback riding and guided tour services (river rafting, anyone?).

Distance from Phoenix: 321 miles
Elevation: 8,000 feet
Season: Year-round
Rates: $89-$137
Pets: Allowed in cabins and some rooms.
Nearest town: Fredonia, 30 miles
Location: Junction of AZ 89A and AZ 67, Jacob Lake
Reservations: 928-643-7232

phm0712 ge2 lgDeMotte Campground
Located within hiking distance of the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, DeMotte is one of Arizona's highest elevation campgrounds. Swaths of wildlife-rich spruce-fir woodlands surround the site, making it a favorite stop for photographers, especially in summer, when the meadows play host to rafters of wild turkey, deer, elk and soaring raptors. Sightseeing spills into the evening hours with excellent dark-sky stargazing. DeMotte has room for tents, trailers and small motor homes (no hookups), and each of the 38 single-family sites comes equipped with a picnic table, cooking grill and shared access to restrooms and drinking water.

Because of its tucked-away location, DeMotte offers a quieter, less crowded alternative to campgrounds located closer to the canyon. And for a respite from nature overload, a short stroll leads to the Kaibab Lodge restaurant, where one can indulge in a cup of soup and warm bread after a long day in paradise.

Distance from Phoenix: 365 miles
Elevation: 8,760 feet
Season: May 15-October 15, depending on weather
Rates: $17
Pets: Leashed pets allowed.
Nearest town: Fredonia, 55 miles
Location: 7 miles north of Grand Canyon NP North Rim entrance
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Info: 928-643-7395,

Prescott area

Juniper Well Ranch
Blending Mediterranean-style vineyards and cowboy chic accommodations, the cabins at Juniper Well Ranch offer the ultimate in luxury "camping." Each of the fireplace-equipped domiciles exudes relaxation. And since amenities include just about every imaginable essential and frill (kitchen staples, linens, toiletries, candles!), visitors are just one overnight bag removed from a carefree, back country escape. Guests can sample the vin de pays at the on-site wine tasting room, which serves ranch-grown varietals including the Juniper Well signature full-bodied red Spanish tempranillo and a fruity grenache. Nightlife, dining and shopping are just minutes away in Prescott.

Distance from Phoenix: 127 miles
Elevation: 4,900 feet
Season: Year-round
Rates: $135-$199
Pets: Allowed, and there's horse boarding.
Location: 15 miles northwest of Prescott off Iron Springs Road
Reservations: 928-442-3415

phm0712 ge5 lgLower Wolf Creek Campground
In its previous life, this 1930s-era campground was a Civilian Conservation Corps worksite where members lived while performing jobs like timber stand improvement, erosion control and construction of fences, bridges, trails and fire lookouts. The old camp's stone masonry tables and retaining walls still stand, scattered among granite boulders in a shady basin along the banks of Wolf Creek. The camp accommodates tents and vehicles up to 40 feet, but has no hookups. Site hosts are available to assist with the self-pay station and provide information about recreational opportunities in the area. Two very popular hiking trails – Groom Creek Loop and Wolf Creek 383/384 – begin just up the road near the equestrian camp. Aquatic adventure awaits at nearby Lynx Lake, with fishing, boating and a marina. ATV/OHV use is prohibited in the campground, but many surrounding forest roads allow motorized travel.

Distance from Phoenix: 119 miles
Elevation: 6,000 feet
Season: May-October
Rates: $10-$15
Pets: Leashed dogs allowed.
Location: From Prescott, go six miles south on Mt. Vernon St. (Senator Hwy.) to FR 97, turn right and continue 1.25 miles to the site.
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Info: 928-443-8000,

Mogollon Rim area

Happy Jack Lodge
Party time! Retaining the friendly bustle of its mining camp heritage, Happy Jack lodge offers an amenity-rich mountain retreat for those who want to spend time in the great outdoors but end the day with a hot shower, steak dinner and socializing. The family-friendly, hybrid tent-cabin-RV site (with hookups) encourages campers to mix and mingle in the playgrounds, reservable ramadas, restaurant and country store. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy nearby hiking, fishing, scenic drives to Winslow's Meteor Crater or a day trip to water ski on Lake Mary.

Distance from Phoenix: 155 miles
Elevation: 7,000 feet
Season: Year-round
Rates: Seasonal, call
Pets: No pets allowed.
Nearest town: Clints Well, three miles (offers gas, groceries and a restaurant)?
Location: 40 miles north of Payson near the AZ 87/Lake Mary Road junction
Reservations: 928-477-2805

Clints Well Campground
Best described as a "pull-off-along-the-highway" kind of place, this free, seven-site camp accommodates tents, motor homes and trailers under 22 feet but has no host, no water and no hookups. Vault toilets, tables and basic grills constitute the only amenities. Yet because of its ultra-convenient location smack in the middle of some of the best recreational territory on the Rim, the place is perpetually packed. Recreation includes fishing in West Clear Creek Wilderness, hiking the Blue Ridge passage of the Arizona Trail and biking on forest roads.

Distance from Phoenix: 150 miles
Elevation: 7,000 feet
Season: Year-round (may be closed during winter storms)
Rates: Free
Pets: Leashed pets allowed, no horses.
Nearest town: Clints Well, 0.5 mile (offers gas, groceries and a restaurant)
Location: 37 miles north of Payson near the AZ 87/Lake Mary Road junction
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Info: 928-477-2255,