Winkelman, Arizona sits at the junction of Highways 77 and 177, with the Gila River passing along its southern edge. The small town is mostly known as stopping point on a less trafficked route between Phoenix and Tucson that passes by some of the more scenic landscapes of the southern part of the state, including the Tonto National Forest. When you book an RV in Winkelman, you’ll also be close to two of the state’s large casinos, both on the edge of the San Carlos Reservation.
While the community is quite small and has few major attractions besides the casinos, many people visit the town and choose to get a travel trailer rental in Winkelman to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for the quiet beauty of the desert.
The Great Outdoors
One of the country’s most underrated backcountry adventure destinations is located just a short drive to the southeast of Winkelman, at the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness. Unlike much of the state which is bone dry, Aravaipa Creek flows year-round and is the water source for a menagerie of wildlife in the area. The wilderness has no designated trails, campsites, or facilities of any kind, so you’ll be on your own hiking through here. Come prepared though, and you’ll have the chance to experience one of the last pieces of America untouched by human development.
Saguaro National Park on the east and west sides of Tucson (the park is split into two zones) is one of the least visited national parks, despite being one of the most convenient to reach. This is primarily due to the soaring temperatures that the park experiences for much of the year, but with proper precautions, hikers can certainly find a day or two’s worth of exploration to be done on its dusty trails. For some relief from the heat, take a drive up nearby Mount Lemmon. At 9,000 feet, its summit is downright chilly and is the perfect place for stargazing.
Oracle State Park on the northern end of the Tucson metro is another fun place to visit with the Winkelman campervan rental if you only have a little time to spare. The park is centered on a historic ranch house and has dozens of miles of trail to explore. Despite being so close to Tucson, it’s registered as a “Dark Sky Park,” and from here, it's possible to glimpse the Milky Way on most clear nights.
The wide-open spaces of rural Arizona are prime territory for campers, so you’ll have no trouble finding a place to spend the night when you get an RV rental in Winkelman. The Palo Verde RV Park is one of the closest to the city, just a short drive down Highway 77. Sites there are equipped with full hookups, and it’s quite close to the Gila River Recreation Area if you’re interested in doing a little hiking. If gaming will be part of your vacation, one of the area's massive casinos is just down the road.
The nearest Walmart is all the way down in Oro Valley, a northern suburb of Tucson. While this is a bit far from where you’d get your motorhome rental in Winkelman, it’s not a bad place to stay if you’re looking for somewhere closer to urban amenities and can get the manager’s permission before setting up camp.
Exploring the City
Road trips aren’t always about finding the best places to go, but rather the most interesting. Which is why you’ll definitely want to make a stop at the World’s Smallest Museum in the town of Superior when you choose a camper rental in Winkelman. From the road, it looks a bit touristy, but inside you’ll find all sorts of ordinary artifacts from the former residents of Superior. Few of them will be surprising on their own, but together they paint of picture of what life was like for these people, which is really the whole point of a museum.
Superior is also home to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, which has three miles of trail winding their way through thousands of different plant species native to the Sonoran Desert. This is a great place for a family picnic, especially during the cooler months. The kids are sure to get a lesson in ecology as they watch how the plants and animals coexist in the harsh desert landscape.
For a taste of the city, your closest options will probably be in the town of Florence, a suburb of Phoenix on its southeastern end. It won’t have the massive shopping malls or fine dining of central Phoenix, but it will have more than the few diners and shops found in Winkelman. If you’re not from the Southwest, this is a place to try some really good Mexican food at one of the city’s food trucks.