Camping in Anasazi Country

Camping is a great way to experience Anasazi country. It gives you a direct connection to the outdoor world that is not easily achieved through day visits and hotel stays. Cooking, eating, sleeping, and living in the outdoors gives you a new perspective into the lands the Anasazi called home. There’s a lot of different ways to enjoy camping in Anasazi country that we briefly discuss here.

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Much of Anasazi country is in desert or desert-like conditions. However, a lot of camping areas are located at higher altitudes where there are trees or even forests. Consequently, depending on the type of camping you do you’ll have a wide variety of camping conditions to choose from.

Car Camping

Most people begin camping by car camping. For some, car camping is a gateway to other types of camping like backpacking or float camping. However, most people remain car campers, preferring the advantages car camping offers. Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico have car camping campsites in all parts of the state and you can find campsites ranging from near wilderness to fully developed campgrounds. Car campers can cover long distances much more easily than any other form of camping. But the biggest advantage is your ability to easily carry large amounts of equipment.

Photoof backcountry campsite in Utah
Dispersed campers can set up camp anywhere that they choose. This provides lots of opportunities to secure especially scenic sites. Always minimize your impact when you set up a dispersed campsite. Photo by Christian Schrader on Unsplash

Even a small car has enough room to carry all you need to camp in comfort. Car campers can usually pack coolers, chairs, fresh foods, liquid beverages, and lots of other large or heavy items that other types of campers can’t. This gives you a lot of freedom to take the items that make a very comfortable camp. Most of the content on this site is geared for car campers.

The gear you need for car camping will vary depending on where you plan to camp. If you are using developed campgrounds they will have tables, fire rings, toilets, potable water, and (sometimes) sun shelter. However, if you are camping in undeveloped sites you need to consider bringing extra water, a table, and chairs, a sun/rain canopy, a fire pan, etc.


Many of the best backcountry Anasazi sites can only be reached through long hikes. While some can be day hikes, you’ll likely find yourself wanting to camp in the wilds; which means backpacking. Backpacking is both simple and complicated. It’s simple because you can only take what you can carry and the reality is, that’s not very much. Typically, you need a tent, sleeping bag, pad, cook stove, cooking gear, food, water, clothing, and personal accessories. What makes backpacking complicated is getting all you need into a pack that you can reasonably carry.

While this sounds daunting, it can be done and lots of people love it. However, successful backpacking requires skills and equipment that are best acquired through personal experience. This site is primarily geared toward car camping but you will find a lot of practical backpacking advice mixed in throughout the site.

When backpacking you always have to plan to make sure you have enough water. Sometimes you’ll be able to find water sources along your route that you can filter and drink. However, sometimes you will have to carry all the water you need for your trip. Figure a bare minimum of one gallon per day per person. At more than 8 pounds per gallon, your pack can quickly get very heavy. Always make sure of your water before attempting any backpacking in Anasazi country.

Float Camping

Float camping is a great way to experience Anasazi country. There are fantastic camping float opportunities, especially on the San Juan and Colorado Rivers. There are flat water and white water float camping opportunities for canoeists, kayakers, and rafters. Canoes and kayaks don’t have much space for gear so camping in these boats is like backpacking on water. A raft can often take as much gear as a car campers can, allowing for very comfortable float camping. Although most of the camping advice we provide is aimed at car campers, much of what we discuss can be applied to float camping as well.

If you have your own gear and want to plan a float trip you need to research where you want to go. Many river sections require float permits which you must apply for in advance. You can find everything you need to know by doing internet research. If you want someone else to handle all of the logistics there are a number of commercial companies that will handle everything and take you down the river using professional guides.

 Bicycle Camping

The wide-open spaces and beautiful back roads of Anasazi country provide great opportunities for bicycle campers. Unfortunately, the wind, a lot of hilly terrain, and roads with narrow to nonexistent shoulders can create challenging conditions. However, the spectacular scenery and open vistas provide great rewards. I am not a bicycle camper myself so, rather than try to provide information that may or may not be accurate, I suggest you check out this site for more information about Bicycle Camping.

As with backpacking, bicycle campers need to be especially aware of water. Biking the roads of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico can dry you out very quickly. Make sure you are always well hydrated!

More Camping Advice

Learn more about camping in Anasazi country. Learn How to Select a Campground so you can prepare to have a great experience. Once you know where you are likely to camp you also need to know How to Select A Campsite so you can get the best possible camping experience.

To learn more about camping here are some books I recommend: