The Arizona Highways Camping Guide is the newest addition to our collection of guidebooks, and if you haven’t picked yours up today, well, you should (BTW, enter promo code P3A8SC to receive $2 off your purchase). Below, the book’s author — and the managing editor of Arizona Highways — Kelly Vaughn Kramer, talks about her latest achievement, why you and your family should go camping, and the importance of Diet Coke when it comes to the writing process:
How did this book actually come to be, and why did you want to write it?
This book was the brainchild of our books team, and it’s intended as a solid addition to our collection of guidebooks. Camping is such a great way to explore Arizona, including spots you might not otherwise visit. I was excited to write the book to encourage people to get out and spend a few nights under the stars, smell the pine trees, listen to the shivering of aspen leaves and maybe spot an elk or two.
Initially, this must have seemed overwhelming… after all, there are a lot of campgrounds. How did you begin to break it down into more manageable sections?
Breaking the book into regional chapters was definitely a benefit, and I tried to visit at least a handful of campgrounds during each research trip. The wildest was a 31-campground tour in the White Mountains. That was a big undertaking, especially with my young son on board, but I managed it and it turned into a wonderful experience.
You were very near the end of your book when the Wallow Fire broke out and destroyed several campsites. What went through your mind? What did you do?
The Wallow Fire delayed the printing of this book by about a year. Between it and the Horseshoe 2 and Monument fires, nearly 16 percent of the campgrounds in my original manuscript were at risk. Ultimately, I revisited them when the smoke cleared — so to speak — to make sure the campgrounds were still accessible and that any fire damage hadn’t affected their beauty or amenities.
As writers, we all know that writing a book is incredibly challenging… something that pushes us to our limits. How did you overcome those challenges (besides drinking lots of Diet Coke)?
Diet Coke and coffee were huge stress busters for me, though maybe not the healthiest. Plus, I kept in mind what an opportunity it was for me to travel all across the state and to share those experiences with other people. I also ran a lot to clear my head during the writing process. Sometimes, I did some of my better writing in my head during a long run.
What are your top three favorite campgrounds?
Lockett Meadow, near Flagstaff; KP Cienega, in the White Mountains (it’s on the book’s cover); and Los Burros, north of McNary.
Is there a bucket-list campground in this book? That is, a spot where everyone should camp, at least once in their life?
Just one? Lockett Meadow. There’s something about those aspens that spoke to me. But people should also hit any of the campgrounds at the Grand Canyon. Natural. Wonder.
What do you love most about the final product?
The final product. It’s a relief that this baby is out the door and on shelves.