The Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness is an incredible desert oasis of Arizona. A visit here is worth at least one or two nights so you can get the full backcountry hiking experience. Here’s what you need to know about camping in Aravaipa Canyon before you go!
The first thing to know about camping in Aravaipa is that you need a permit at any time of year. The canyon is on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and permits are issued 13 weeks before you plan to visit. Aravaipa Canyon permit rules, fees, and more can be found here.
The campsites themselves are first-come-first-serve in Aravaipa Canyon, so you’ll be competing for the best sites with all other permit holders. Ideally, you’ll want to start hiking into the canyon no later than about 3 in the afternoon to snag a campsite before nightfall, but we recommend starting your hike earlier. This also, of course, depends on the day of the week you have a permit for and how far you decide to hike into the canyon.
If your permit begins from the West Entrance Trailhead, a good benchmark for the first day of a backpacking trip is near the entrance of a side canyon called Horse Camp Canyon, around 5 miles from the trailhead. There are plenty of campsites here, but campsites can also be found less than 5 miles in if you’re ready to stop hiking earlier. Read more about hiking in Aravaipa.
Notice that I didn’t say “Peace & Quiet?” If I described Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness as quiet, I would be lying! While camping in Aravaipa Canyon you will get to enjoy the many sounds of nature including a rushing creek that runs year-round, over 200 species of birds, and other wildlife. Out of the hustle and bustle of city-life and immersed in a wilderness area, the sounds of nature are amplified. During the night I find these sounds have a soothing rhythm that puts me right to sleep. Throughout the day, and while I drink my morning coffee around camp, these sounds remind me that the desert is thriving with life.
Words don’t always cut it when it comes to describing the beauty of Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, but pictures might! Here are a few: