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Dispersed Camping Arizona Near Water

Important Information You Should Take Into Consideration

Free Camping near Payson, AZ | Boondocking in Arizona Dispersed Camping

It is obvious the Arizona forests do experience wildfire cases each year.

And a good number of these are caused by human activities, including campfires normally set up and left unquenched by some dispersed campers.

More specifically, if you didnt come along with your own firewood, simply collect and utilize only dead wood you could find on the ground.

In the same vein, make sure you dont cut branches off live trees.

On the other hand, if a well-known camping area doesnt have deadwood on the ground, please ensure to bring your own firewood.

Always remember that the animals, insects, and micro-organisms in the soil, obviously need rotting wood on the ground to survive.

Where You Can Camp:

Unless stated otherwise , its legal to sleep in your vehicle within ANY federally designated lands. These include:

  • National Forests
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Wildlife Management Areas
  • Some County Parks & City Parks Check signs
  • Some trailheads Check signs
  • Closer to civilization: Parking lots and truck stops

Look for the brown and yellow signs announcing your entrance to public land and youll know youre in the right place. Be aware of wildfires during the heat months in the California and surrounding areas when planning your trip since camping would then be off limits.

Free Camping Near Flagstaff Dispersed Camping In Coconino National Forest

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Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means we will earn a commission on the products or services you purchase using the links. There is no additional cost to you and the earnings help keep this website running. Read the Affiliate Disclaimer for more information.

We have been camping near Flagstaff, Arizona since 2015 and it has become one of our favorite areas in the United States. If youre looking for dispersed camping options or free camping around Flagstaff, this is the post for you.

Skip the campgrounds and head into the Coconino National Forest to camp among the ponderosa pines. Below are a some of our favorite spots for free camping near Flagstaff.

Keep in mind there are no facilities at these free camping spots so you are boondocking. However, there are several places to dump your RV tanks in Flagstaff and fill up on potable water. We use Allstays to locate free RV dumps, places to fill propane tanks, and to find more free camping spots in Flagstaff.

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Escape The Crowds And Go Camping In The Arizona Backcountry

I have been asked many times, where is the best place to camp? My response is always the same, Arizona. Our excess of public land allows us to camp nearly anywhere in the state. Not including private property, most areas are open for camping. With thousands of miles of backroads, the possibilities are endless.

This article will attempt to highlight every single camping opportunity in Arizona. My idea is to provide the ultimate resource guide for primitive and designated camping. Below you will find who, what, where, and when. I hope this article will give you a starting point for finding your next adventure. Bookmark this article because you might want to come back.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area Temple Bar Marina Rv Park

How To Find Dispersed Camping In Arizona

Home to the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead is a great Arizona vacation spot that offers activities like fishing, boating, and hiking.

Stay at the Template Bar Marina RV Park. It offers full RV hookups with a household current option, restrooms, showers, camp store, coin laundry, and a dump station.

This campground does not take reservations, so sites are available on a first come, first serve basis only.

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Dispersed Camping Rules & Regulations

One of our favorite things about dispersed camping is the lack of permits, reservations, and other requirements youll often find at developed campgrounds. However, that doesnt mean there arent important rules you should always following when dispersed camping.

It is best to check current regulations with the relevant USFS or BLM office, but you should plan on adhering to the following as outlined by the USFS:

  • Do not camp in areas near trailheads, picnic areas, or developed campgrounds.
  • Keep your campsite small.
  • Use existing sites and fire rings when available.
  • Pick a site where vegetation is absent.
  • Do not camp within 200 feet of a water source.
  • Dispersed camping is generally limited to 14 days within any continuous 30 day period.
  • Only have a campfire if it is permitted, and always be sure it is completely extinguished.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles more on that below!

    Leave No Trace Principles & Arizona Dispersed Camping

    One of the most important considerations when dispersed camping is to follow Leave No Trace principles. This will minimize your impact and ensure your campsite can be enjoyed by future visitors. Here are the seven principles of Leave No Trace camping:

  • Plan Ahead & Prepare: Have an idea of where youd like to camp and always be sure you are camping in an area that permits dispersed camping.
  • Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces: Never camp on fragile ground or create a new campsite.
  • How To Find Dispersed Camping In Arizona

    In general, with a little knowledge of where to look, experience navigating forest service roads, reading USFS maps, and camping in remote locations, it should be relatively straightforward to find dispersed camping in Arizona. We like to use a combination of online apps/websites and USFS/BLM maps to find dispersed campsites. Our favorite resources for Arizona dispersed camping are below:

  • Our go to resource for finding free camping
  • The Dyrt An app that lets you filter for free and dispersed campsites
  • Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest MVUM There are currently no MVUM available for Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
  • We often have a motor vehicle use map open in one tab and Google Maps satellite view in the other to help find dispersed campsites. You can cross reference the two and often see areas that have established campsites in Google Maps.

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    A Campground With Expansive Views

    Lyman Lake offers visitors a chance to experience the wild and free side of Arizona’s backcountry, with the added bonus of amenities like showers, restrooms, and a park store. This large park can offer as much relaxation or adventure as you would like…Choose your own unique experience! Waking up to a sunrise over beautiful Lyman Lake is a great way to start the day…Imagine yourself here!

    Lyman Lake State Park has 56 available campsites with 38 hookup sites and 18 non-hookup sites. There is no limit on maximum RV length.

    There is a $15.00 per night fee for second vehicles and the fee is to be paid upon arrival at the park. The fee does not apply to vehicles towed behind a primary vehicle when the RV remains at the site and the other is used for transportation.

    To learn more about camping and recreation opportunities in your Arizona State Parks, see this comprehensive guide to camping in Arizona.

    For cancellation policy see

    How To Find Free Camping In Arizona

    Free Dispersed Camping-Prescott near Lynx Lake

    But how does one find free camping in Arizona? Years back, youd grab a map of the area or visit the local forestry service. And while you still can, you can use apps for finding a campsite, too.

    Some of the most popular apps and online tools on the market include Campendium, FreeCampsites, Allstays, and iOverlander.

    Many full-time RVers and weekend tent campers love to use Campendium. It gives amenities, the best rig sizes, reviews, and directions for your smartphone. Additionally, it provides locations for dumpsites and water fill-ups, and its all free.

    FreeCampsites is a website that lists free campsites, including some less than $10 per night. However, it has some glitches, like the zoom capabilities getting stuck while searching. Its color-coded tent symbols make it easy to recognize the type of campsites and their price points.

    Plus, like Campendium, its completely free to use, and you can also add in sites that you have found and write reviews.

    Allstays is another popular tool for finding free camping. For a small one-time fee, this app will tell you everything mentioned above and more. Here, youll also find bridge heights, dump stations, water fills, and even the Walmarts and gas stations that allow you to stay overnight.

    For that matter, it pays to have all the tools, or at least a handful of them. When you have a few to choose from, you can find some of the best free campsites in Arizona.

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    Explore More Of Arizona’s Great Outdoors

    Camping: Camping in Sedona is just the start. Plan the rest of your Arizona outdoor adventure with our guides to the best campgrounds in Prescott, Phoenix, and Tucson. Prescott and Sedona make great destinations in the summer but during the colder months, Tucson and Phoenix are appealing camping areas. If you’re not sure where else you might want to set up camp, get inspired with our list of the best places to camp in Arizona.

    Hiking: From the desert to the mountains, Arizona has all kinds of terrain just waiting to be explored. For some ideas on where to go, be sure to see our most recent picks for the best hikes in Arizona. Some of the most interesting hiking can be found near the major towns and cities. If you know you are going to be traveling to some of these destinations, don’t miss our articles on the best hikes in Sedona, Prescott, Phoenix, and Tucson. For serious hikers, the Grand Canyon offers a numbr of great hikes.

    How Do I Pick A Good Campsite

    Many people drive out on Forest Service roads into the woods and find a clearing or a spot near a stream or with a view of the mountains. Do not drive on meadows to access your camping site. Drive on existing roads to prevent resource damage. You can also follow these tips:

    • Ask a ranger. For an inside track into the best places to stay, keep an eye out for any BLM Ranger Station or visitor center and ask the true locals for their suggestions. Weve never been lead astray and youll be amazed at how much theyll go out of their way to help you out.
    • Scour Google Maps. Again, look for the green areas that signify public lands. Use Google Earth to get an idea of roads and landscapes.
    • Attempt to camp on a paved road. If not possible, camp on bare, well-packed gravel. Note that this is done at your own risk: if renting an Escape Campervan, you are NOT covered by insurance and are NOT covered in the Escape Roadside Assistance plan if you are OFF a paved road. Camping on a level area also makes sleeping more comfortable.
    • If youre going to an area where others have camped before, pick a site that has been used before. Plants, soil, and wildlife are impacted by new campsites so using existing ones will minimize your impact on the forest. Always follow Leave No Trace principles.
    • Check out these online resources and apps that make it easy to find places to camp:
    • iOverlander

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    Dispersed Camping Rules Of The Road

    There are extra responsibilities and skills that are necessary for dispersed camping. It is your responsibility to know these before you try this new experience.

  • Contact the local Forest Service office to see if any restrictions are in place. This includes finding out if campfires and open stoves are permitted in much of the West, drought conditions are severe and no flames of any sort are allowed. Ground tents are occasionally not allowed on federal lands or at rest stops . There is also usually a 14-day limit on staying in the same campsite within a 30-day period.
  • Leave it better than you found it. Pack out everything you brought in, including trash. LEAVE NO TRACE is the official guideline. Brush up on your LNT knowledge.
  • Dispersed camping is allowed in a one-mile perimeter away from campgrounds and 100 feet from any stream.
  • Dont sleep on the side of the road its usually illegal. To prevent resource damage, keep your campsite within 150 feet from a roadway.
  • Bring plenty of your own water, or have a way to treat it. Just because you found a campsite near a stream or river with seemingly nothing else around doesnt mean the water is safe to drink. Always treat the water you get from natural sources so that you dont have to end your trip early!
  • Be prepared. Bring a good atlas and/or GPS to help you find your way in/out of the woods . Check the weather for rain, which can create mud holes that you cant drive out of.
  • Dispersed camping on the East Coast

    Know Why Flagstaff Is Best For Camping

    Old Kingman Highway Dispersed Camping near Bullhead City, AZ

    Camping in Flagstaff is best because it has a high elevation. The high elevation means cooler temperatures and shorter nights. Camping in Flagstaff is best because there are many different types of terrain, which translates to a diverse wildlife population, including elk, bears, coyotes, and squirrels. Camping in Flagstaff is also comfortable for campers because of the proximity to essential goods and grocery stores. Besides, Flagstaff offers many attractions and opportunities for outdoor recreation, such as fishing, hiking, and hunting. It also has a lot of safe and clean campsites.

    Flagstaff has a variety of different campsites. You can camp in the desert, at the base of a mountain, on a mountain top, or in an enclosed forest. Campgrounds are available for tents and RVs. They come with a camping stove and fire ring. There is a freshwater source available for drinking and washing dishes. You can hike to Big Lake from the campground. You can learn about campfire safeties from here.

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    Dispersed Camping In Arizona: The Rules And Where You Can And Cannot Camp

    In our opinion, theres nothing better than camping. Its a chance to get back to basics, enjoy nature, and separate yourself from the hustle and bustle of 21st century life. It also allows you to experience some of natures best views for free.

    The fantastic thing about Arizona is that dispersed camping is allowed and legal, as long as you are camping on state ground and adhere to a few simple guidelines. We outline those further down.

    Land looked after by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and other state institutions will be publicly owned. Typically any areas that are green on Google Maps are also publicly owned. A great state map, such as this one, could help in finding camping spots too.

    Keep an eye on contours as the more spaced out they are on a map, the flatter the ground will be. Maps can also help pinpoint potential water sources to camp nearby.

    Just be aware that there are a few areas where dispersed camping in Arizona is forbidden:

    • You are not allowed to camp in or near paid campsites , trailheads, or recreation areas
    • You are not allowed to camp within a quarter of a mile of water source areas .
    • Areas that specifically state closed to camping or similar are forbidden

    Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area

    Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area is a good camping area for families that dont want to be too far away from a city but still want to be in the pines. Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area is located on the outskirts of Show Low, AZ. There are multiple campgrounds and campsites situated along the bank of Fool Hollow Lake.

    This makes a great place for families as there are even a couple of playgrounds, where children can play. The campgrounds are great for tent campers as well as RV campers as there are electrical and sewer hookups. The recreation area is open year round but you do need to make reservations prior to your camping trip.

    Read Also: Ouachita National Forest Primitive Camping

    Mountain Road Free Dispersed Camping

    Mountain Road Free Dispersed Camping is a place for people who love to camp and hike but dont like the hassle of having to hike in and find a campsite. This site is located near Mount Hood and provides free dispersed Camping in Flagstaff for everyone. There are six sites in the area with plenty of trees to pitch a tent, log benches to sit on, and small potable water spigots for drinking.

    The nearest camping spot is miles away, and there is no telling if your car will make it there before it gets dark. The tent has enough space for two people, but you were hoping for a more secluded location with a prettier view.

    Ever since the first dirt road was worn into the earth by travelers, people have been taking to the mountains for adventures. Along this path of travel, mountain roads free dispersed Camping offers a convenient way for someone to find solitude and enjoy nature.

    A traveler can also find peace in the company of other people there are many campgrounds along mountain roads free dispersed Camping near Flagstaff, that offer campsites with running water, electricity, and limited bathroom facilities.

    Where To Go Camping In Arizona

    Prescott Basin Dispersed Free Camping Sites – Prescott Arizona Campsites

    There are numerous land management agencies in Arizona. State, federal, and tribal all have different sets of rules and recreation opportunities. The Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service manages most of the public domain in Arizona. These areas provide endless possibilities for adventure. Below, I will go through all land management agencies in Arizona. You will find information on both dispersed camping and designated camping.

    We have hundreds, if not thousands, of recreation areas all over the state. Look for links to Interactive Maps showing designated campsites and 4×4 trails, hiking trails, fishing, target shooting, state parks, national monuments, and other recreational opportunities across Arizona.

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