Ultimate Southwest Family-Friendly Camping Trip (AZ, Utah, CO)

The ultimate Southwest family-friendly camping trip

 

We decided to pack up the truck with a tent, and coolers and embark on a two-week southwest family-friendly camping adventure through Arizona, Utah and Colorado as our summer vacation. Our kids ages were 4, 8 and 10! We started in Phoenix, Arizona, headed north to Utah to visit Zion National Park, then took a hard left to Colorado passing through Lake Powell. We spent a few days in Durango, Colorado, then turned back around and spent a three days in the best group camping site in Sedona for Arizona families, located right on a creek!

 

FIRST STOP: Circle Pines KOA in Williams, Arizona off exit 167
  • Tents, RVs, Covered Wagon, TeePees, Cabins
  • Go-Karts and Horseback Riding
  • Restaurant
  • Indoor Pool & 2 Spas
  • Playground with Jumpy Pillow
  • Laundry and Game Room
  • Barrel Train
  • PLUS a short drive to BEARizona AND Canyon Coaster Adventure Park in Williams, Arizona. We opted for Adventure Park this trip and skipped Bearizona as we have gone before and so happy we did! This thrill was fast, fun and something the whole family truly enjoyed. They have a huge cafe with TVs everywhere so if you aren’t going on the ride, you can see when your person hits the top and starts making their way down! They also have food and drink! Then we drove down the Historic Route 66 road that goes right through the town!
  • Watch our highlight reel of what we are claiming as one of the most family-friendly KOA’s in Arizona!

Canyon Coaster in Williams, Arizona

SECOND STOP: Quail Creek State Park, 20 minutes away from Zion National Park
  • Quail Creek State Park & Reservoir
    • The perfect public camping site for tents,  just 20 minutes away from Zion National Park. It offers beautiful lakeside views, boating ramps, good fishing, paddleboarding, dirt bike trails, jet ski rentals, RC track, and St. George Aqua Adventures which is a water park just offshore!  This is a park that you really don’t have to leave and can enjoy without the desire to visit Zion but it also was the perfect haven after a long day of hiking the Narrows and Emerald Falls. The water temps are perfect!
  • Zion National Park
    • The REAL reason why we made it up to Quail Creek State Park! We wanted to experience Zion National Park! So we decided to drive and park up at the park ourselves. It was risky but also rewarding at the end of the day. So we found a parking spot before the entrance near the Zion Outfitters where we geared up for The Narrows. We were blessed to experience opening day and all we will say is listen to the recommendation of the Outfitters. Get a stick per person and rent the water socks for under your boots! You will 100% need them and saw many people who didn’t – regret it deeply once we hiked up there. What’s so great about Zion is every key hike has a stop on the bus — so you just hop on a bus once you are in the park, and it will tell you exactly what place to get off on or if a hike is closed due to weather. The bus ride itself is wonderful – just look up and be amazed at the steep cliffs and vibrant blue sky!
  • The Narrows
    • We had the opportunity to visit The Narrows on opening day. Boy was the water cold and a little steep but we were determined after the lengthy walk to get to the actual entrance. The initial walk is longer than we think most people anticipate, but worth it. There are plenty of places to rest, feel and see water, immerse yourself in nature and admire the hanging gardens. Beware of the squirrels though. They are chunky, well fed and a little aggressive but humorous as well!

  • Emerald Falls
    • We planned on only doing 1 full day in Zion as we were with three littles and expected them to be pretty exhausted, but once we got into the Park and saw how well they did the first day, we wanted to experience more! So, Emerald Falls was it! We decided to do the Lower Falls – it was a trek and also a little warmer than we anticipated. The kids did well, but we had to push them a little more than we would have liked. Was the view worth it? YES! Was it incredible walking under a waterfall? YES! Do we want to do it again – absolutely!

Views from Quail Creek State Park

THIRD STOP: Lake Powell Campground
  • Wahweap RV & Campground at Lake Powell
    •   The views are incredible but we will say this, if you want to stay and enjoy Lake Powell, we aren’t sure camping without an RV or boat is the best experience. It’s pretty windy and our tent was tested during this stay. We also tried to be Lake Powell beachgoers and again, so windy it felt like we were in a Star Wars movie. Did that get us down though? Nope! We still had an amazing time and the amenities are absolutely incredible. We actually used a day to wash clothes and play games together at their laundry facility. One amazing experience we enjoyed included…
  • Horseshoe Bend Rafting Trip with Wilderness River Adventures
    • Whatever you do at Lake Powell…. do this! Yes, book a trip to float down Horseshoe Bend AND THEN, go experience it from above! It is an expensive but worth the investment trip – the kids loved it. They got to dip their hand in the ice-cold water, and hear incredible history while looking out for wildlife and what possibly could be around the bend. It was so soothing that at one point our 4-year-old fell asleep. The trip is about 4 hours and we recommend going early – yes it’s hard to wake up but it gets entirely too hot towards the midday and evening. After our trip, we went back to the campsite, showered, reset and then visited Horseshoe Bend from the top to see how far down we were!

FOURTH STOP: Glacier Club Townhouse in Durango, Colorado
  • City of Durango – we decided to spend a few days in Durango and rented an Airbnb tucked in The Glacier Club to just enjoy real beds, a full kitchen, pools, and honestly, some indoor recovery time after being outside for 7 days straight! The City of Durango is a quaint mountain town with so much to do from its shopping, gastronomy, fishery, and train station museum! We can’t wait to go back!
  • Purgatory Resort
    • One day, we decided to just spend our time at Purgatory Resort just minutes from our Airbnb. Known for its epic winters, we opted for their summer adventures! We bought summer day passes and enjoyed their mountain coaster, alpine slide, go-karts, chairlift, treasure panning, and kayaking on Twilight Lake! They also have insane mountain biking trails and jeep tours. From the views to the food and the nonstop summer fun, Purgatory Resort made it our top summer spot for kids in Durango!
  • Honeyville
    • Between Purgatory Resort and Durango is the sweetest little store filled to the brim with honey and the love of bees. Honeyville is a must-stop spot and somewhere you should plan to hang around for an hour or so. We took home plenty of honey, jams and more to share with friends at home.
FIFTH STOP: Chavez Crossing Group Campground in Sedona, Arizona

Funny story about Chavez Crossing Group Campground. We didn’t read the word group! Ha! We thought the price was what it was due to the time of the season and desire to go to Sedona that time of year. As we made our final plans about a month before our trip, we realized it said group. So we extended the invite for friends and families to join us and LOVE that we did that! After over 10 days on the road, we were exhausted by our southwest family-friendly camping trip. As we approached Sedona during the last trek, we recognized we were only hours away from home and if friends and family weren’t there, we would of easily just driven home but SO HAPPY they met us there for one last adventure.

Private access to a creek. Enough said! Our spot had amazing space to host RVs, Tents, Yurts and whatever else the friends camp in. We had over 15 kids and 5 families join us – we all thought we might escape for a day to experience Sedona but due to the sheer joy of accessing a creek they can float down while digging up crawdads, we knew there was no way to leave. The one bummer was the bathrooms that were extremely rough (the smell…yuk!), BUT if you came in an RV or just overlooked that aspect, the rest made up for it!

 

And that’s a wrap! It was one for the memory books and a highlight of our little life. We actually talked about repeating it in a year or so we enjoyed it so much.
If a southwest family-friendly camping trip isn’t your jam, check out our list of Waterpark Resorts in Arizona! We also frequently visit the Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort in Phoenix which is the perfect Arizona resort with kids! 
+ If you are looking for a winter escape in Arizona, view our list of the best snowy vacation spots in Northern Arizona! The list also includes the Circle Pines KOA, but this time, we stayed in their heated covered wagon!
Snowy staycation spots in northern arizona

Discover snowy staycation spots in Northern Arizona