During our Florida to Arizona trip after buying the Bounder, I gained an appreciation for RV Resorts and we look forward to visiting many once we can full time or take longer vacation trips. For all the comforts of hookups, I still have dry camping in the national forests at the top of my list. Until we can spend our summers travelling across the northern U.S. and Canada, northern Arizona is our escape from the heat while we live/work full time in Arizona. Northern Arizona has some great summer locations that are so different from the lower deserts. The fact that these escapes are so close to home makes Arizona the most diverse place I’ve ever been. Yes it’s 110+ plus during the summer in the lower deserts, but wintertime the desert is my friend. In the summer, we store the RV up north so we don’t use a bunch of gas getting to a cool summer weekend destination. After taking the RV up north the first time, I realized we are saving $75-$100 per trip driving the car to Payson and the RV from our Payson storage place to the Mogollon Rim where we camp.
My favorite national forest in Arizona has to be the Coconino national forest, it runs hundreds of miles east to west across Arizona and I’m told it holds the largest stand of Ponderosa Pine in the world. I’ve seen other forests across America that are larger with other breeds of Pine, Fir or Redwood, but Arizona’s is pretty nice for a desert state!
Although temps are great beginning in late April lasting though the end of September, my favorite time in the Coconino forest is August through September because the monsoons provide a 15-30 minute rain shower almost daily. It’s just enough rain to keep the dust down for riding our ATV. With that rain, the fire restrictions are lifted allowing you to have nightly campfires. Even with a daily rain shower, there’s still hours of sunshine each day, very few bugs and no mosquitoes to put up with. Temps range 38-45 degrees in the mornings and daily highs in 72-80 degree range (when it’s 115-120 in the Phoenix area just 130 miles south!)
There’s no shortage of forest roads and dry campsites to pick from. The photos below are from locations near Flagstaff south to the Mogollon Rim just north of Payson. There’s much, much more forest area to see and places to go across the Coconino NF. But these photos will help you decide if you want to make the Coconino forest a future “summer destination”. There are places to hike, bike, atv or visit by car once you pick a base campsite. And be sure you set aside time at dusk or dawn to travel the nearby forest roads and you will be treated to deer and elk sightings up close as they move between bedding areas and their water sources. Since there’s thousands of square miles to see, you’re certain to find a favorite base camp during your travels. Seriously, you are in for a summer treat in northern Arizona!
Check current conditions here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/coconino/