Some Tips For The Area:
The main tip I have for you is probably the same reason you are looking at this post. This boondocking location is driving distance from not 1 but 3 of Utahs 5 national parks. Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, and Capitol Reef National Park. If you plan to stay in this area, purchase a national park pass and go visit each of these national parks.
Unfortunately, we only got to visit Bryce Canyon National Park while we were here, and I am so incredibly disappointed. Within a few days of being in this site, I tripped while walking the dog and sprained my ankle. I cant visit a national park without getting out and hitting the trails, and I knew that would not be possible for a couple of weeks. I could barely walk much less hike on my bum ankle. So, we decided to wait on Capitol Reef and Zion until I was healed.
If you do choose to hit up Bryce Canyon National Park
However, a good tip I do have for you is that if you are staying in this area head in to Panguitch, Utah and have lunch at the Cowboy Smokehouse Café. It is a small restaurant that handles an incredible number of take out orders. It can be a little bit of wait, but it is completely worth it. I had the Famous Cowboy Philly, and it was so good! It has thick, tender chunks of smoked beef in it that has changed the way I think about philly cheesesteaks.
The food here was even Declan approved, and he is a pretty picky eater.
What Is Dry Camping Or Boondocking
Camping without connections is called dry camping, dispersed camping or boondocking.
Boondocking means camping without water, sewer or electric connections.
For RVs, this means using onboard systems and tanks efficiently to support daily activities. For tent or car campers, this means bringing the right supplies to live without modern conveniences.
Check out 21 Best Tricks for Saving Water in an RV: Extend Boondocking Stays with Conservation for ways we are able to boondock for multiple weeks.
Getting Water & Showers in Moab
If you dont have big storage tanks, dont worry. Moab is very camper friendly and you can take a shower or refill your water containers at multiple places in town if you are camping for free on public lands.
Free Water Refill Stations in Moab
We use water jugs like these to replenish our supplies and have found multiple places that offer free water refills in Moab. Most big box stores sell them in the camping section for less than $20. I highly recommend buying your own water containers before arriving in Moab, they are quite overpriced in town.
Our favorite Moab location to get free water refills is Gearheads. They have large industrial sinks with filtered water at the rear store entrance. The sink easily fits our 6-gallon jugs. No purchase is necessary.
Gearheads is located at 471 S Main St, Moab, UT 84532. During our April visit in 2022, they were open 8am until 9pm daily.
Where to Shower in Moab
Yellow Circle Road Dispersed
Yellow Circle Road outside Moab is a dispersed camping area managed by the BLM. Campers have enjoyed decent cell service out here, and this campsite can accommodate any size RV. Reviewers have reported that some roads in the area will require high clearance and 4WD to explore, but you can find plenty of spacious campsites toward the beginning of the area.
Youll know youve found the designated campsites when you see the fire rings scattered around. Theres also a big open gravel lot. Beautiful scenery surrounds this area, and the sky puts on a show at sunset and sunrise. The GPS coordinates for this spot are 38.429, -109.4215.
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Explore More Of Arizonas 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 youâre 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, donât 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 To Find Free Campsites
Free campsites are a great way to keep costs low on your next road trip. For other saving ideas, check out Save Money on a Roadtrip: 13 Simple Ways to Still Have Fun on a Budget.
It can be daunting at first to figure out how to find free campsites but weve been doing it since 2017 and considering ourselves very proficient. We use crowd-sourced apps to filter locations without cellular service or tiny spots that wont accommodate our 37 Class A motorhome.
If weve never visited a location and dont have a personal recommendation, then we use free camping apps to find boondocking locations. Other Class Aers online reviews are a really important factor in determining if we might have issues accessing the area.
Best Apps to Find Free Campsites
Our favorite crowdsourcing apps to find free campsites are:
Once we arrive at a new location, we disconnect our tow car and scout for the perfect spot. Our low clearance sedan is a great test of road conditions. If our car can make the drive, then our motorhome will have no problems.
Weve seen others without a tow vehicle, take a walk or ride their bike to scout new locations. Most tow trucks will charge exponentially higher fees for recovery on dirt roads so be extra cautious.
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Free Dispersed Camping Spots Near Moab Utah
Thanks to the abundance of public property around Moab, there are plenty of places where you can rest your head at night without having to pay for campground fees.
Moab is a major hub for outdoor activities in the Southwestern United Sates. The town thrives on seasonal tourism, with Moab Season typically starting around spring break when all the college kids come out to do every activity they can possibly fit into one week.
With Moab becoming a more popular destination for rock climbing, canyoneering, mountain biking, and river sports, it can be hard to dodge the crowds. That is, unless you know how to escape the crowds in prime free camping spots.
These under-the-radar dispersed camping areas are far-removed from the noise and light pollution of the city, affording more peace and quiet and stellar stargazing opportunities at night. Theres no charge to pitch your tent or park your RV, though keep in mind that these are primitive camping sites with no drinking water, toilets, or other amenities.
If that sounds like your cup of tea and youre willing to follow the Leave No Trace principles, check out one of these five dispersed camping areas near Moab.
Privately Owned Commercial Campgrounds Near Arches
We have not stayed at any of the campgrounds in Moab so cannot personally recommend one over another. Listed in alphabetical order.
RV Camping near Arches
Portal RV Resort only offers RV sites and does not have designated tent camping. All other campgrounds in Moab offer both tent and RV sites for rent.
Tent Camping near Arches
Up the Creek campground only offers tent campsites and does not have RV sites. It is located in town and is great for walking or biking to urban destinations.
If you are looking for a quiet private campground for tents only, then Up the Creek is the only option.
Summary: Private campgrounds near Arches National Parks
- Location: throughout Moab
- Amenities: vary
- Pros: showers, toilets, and other home-like conveniences
- Cons: expensive if staying for multiple nights
- Costs: $28 and up per night for private
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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:
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Camping Near Arches National Park
What better way to experience Arches National Park than to actually camp inside the park limits?
While there are several lodging options in Moab, you cant beat the adventure of sleeping under the stars. And boy, do the stars put on a show above Arches for those who remember to look up.
Devils Garden Campground
There is only one campground inside the park and its conveniently located right next to Devils Garden Trail. We would have loved to camp there during our stay but the campground is reservation only during the months of March October and was already full during our dates.
The spots at Devils Garden Campground fill up quickly and months in advance. Make sure to plan early if staying here is on your bucket list.
The campground has flush and vault toilets, as well as potable water. Where the campground lacks in showers and phone service, it definitely makes up for in views.
Camp sites are $25.
For visitors coming during the months of November February, sites are first-come-first-served.
If youre like us and couldnt snag a spot at the campground, prefer to be a little more off grid, or would just rather camp for free, check out Willow Springs.
Willow Springs is a free, dispersed camping area in Moab located near Arches National Park.
While Willow Springs is primitive camping, its popular and not much of a secret. The area is so large and spread out though its easy to snag a spot. Shady spots, however, are few and far between.
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Recommended Free Camping Areas In Dixie Nf Nearest To Bryce Canyon Np
You may camp in a dispersed area for up to 16 days. After 16 days, you must move at least 10 miles for camping in another dispersed area.
As shown on the map below, there are four popular FREE camping areas within an easy drive from Bryce Canyon NP. These are:
- East Fork Road many sites off forest roads from East Fork Road all the way down to the King Creek camping area
- Daves Hollow a few campsites very close to the Park but beware of camping restrictions
- Toms Best Spring Road many campsites in a large area with easy access
- Corral Hollow several campsites close to Red Canyon
NOTE What about Johns Valley Rd to the north of Bryce Canyon? You can see the green NF land to the very top left of the map above.
I know some folks camped successfully on the west side of Johns Valley Rd near a cow pasture but that is private land on all the maps I studied. I do not recommend it at this time.
Across the road on the east side, a few opportunities exist along with FR 419 and FR 418 towards Henderson Pt. I plan to check it out in the future.
The Best Camping Near Canyonlands National Park
Its 337,598 square miles of washed out, 360-degree paintings upon the surface of the Earth, and the beauty is only the start of the fun. From backcountry hiking to stargazing, camping in or near Canyonlands National Park is the way to goespecially considering there are no other lodging options directly in the park. The closest town bustling Moab is a great place to find society in action, but is not exactly the serene locale most people come to a national park to experience.
While the park itself has two official campgrounds that can accommodate RVs up to 28 long, there are only 40 sites total, many of which are first-come, first-serve and hard to snag. Dont expect any hookups, either, though both of the National Park Service campgrounds have amenities like recycling, trash, and vault toilets. Cell service isnt going to be served in heaping helpings , but if youre interested in water, electric, and cell and dont mind reserving four months in advance Dead Horse Point State Park is just outside of the national parks boundaries.
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Things To Keep In Mind Before Choosing Your Wild/free Campsite
What Are The Road Conditions Like?
Oftentimes, the roads to dispersed campsites are not well-maintained. The roads could be washed away from a previous season, only accessible with a 4×4 car, or you may even be required to park then hike into your camp. You can contact a local ranger station to get conditions on the roads for your researched sites before you head out.
Are You Okay Without Amenities?
Free or wild camping means zero amenities. No showers, toilets, fire pits, electricity, and everything else. Thats why it is important that you have a bit of backcountry knowledge under your belt so that you know how to make a fire, collect water, and the rules for campsite locations in the wilderness.
Are you Prepared?
This goes hand in hand with my previous two questions. Going into the backcountry without a plan can lead to many complications and can get dangerous depending on where you are. A great place to get information about dispersed camping in the nearby areas around Arches and Moab, or other areas around the park, contact the backcountry office in Arches and they can give you the additional information that will help you make the best decision for you.
How To Find Free Camping In Arizona
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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My Camping Review Of Toms Best Spring Dispersed Camping Area
Camping at Toms Best Spring Dispersed Camping Area was awesome for us but mostly because we found a nice place to park our large travel trailer off of the main road.
For people who can only find a campsite along the main road, things arent as great. The main reason being the insane amount of dust that gets kicked up from the many cars that pass by daily.
Its a very popular area and the combination of the vehicles and the dusty desert road is a recipe for some smoggy camping.
There are a lot of campsites that arent along the main road, you just have to scout ahead to find them. We even had some people ask to park next to us because they wanted to escape the dusty road.
The camping limit is 16 days which is fairly high and there are some really fantastic secluded campsites large enough for Class A RVs and large trailers.
If you are going to stay the entire camping limit I suggest finding one of these campsites.
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Of course, the best thing about Toms Best Spring Dispersed Camping Area is how close it is to Bryce Canyon National Park.
Youre less than 10 miles away from the entrance and you are right next to the paved bike road if you prefer to bike in.
The dirt road going in isnt too bad, just a little washboardy sometimes, but there are no large ruts which is important for RVers.
The cell service was decent but the data speeds really slowed down at night when people started using it a lot.