Camping Near Grand Canyon National Park
Just because you’re visiting Grand Canyon National Park doesn’t mean you have to camp within the park’s boundaries. For a more off-the-beaten path experience, check out one of the campgrounds or dispersed camping areas outside and nearby the park.
On the South Rim, there’s the Ten-X Campground , free dispersed camping in the national forest outside the park, and the Grand Canyon Camper Village, with RV hookups and a free shuttle to the South Rim’s visitor center. Travelers to the South Rim can also camp on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, Hualapai Indian Reservation, and the Navajo Indian Reservation.
On the North Rim, you can head to the U.S. Forest Service-operated DeMotte Campground or Jacob Lake Campground . There’s also dispersed camping near the North Rim and Kaibab Camper Village, for those in need of an RV hookup.
Guide To Dispersed Camping In Arizona
Arizona might be one of the best states in the United States for dispersed or free camping. In several areas throughout Arizona, you can literally pull off the side of the road and pitch your tent for free. For those looking for a cheap way to travel throughout Arizona, dispersed camping is the way to go. While state parks and National Parks in Arizona are somewhat restricted with camping, National Forests, the BLM, and state forests offer more options for free dispersed camping.
Heres a guide on Arizona dispersed camping:
Sitting on the Edge of the World. One of the best free dispersed camping spots in Arizona.
North Rim Dispersed Camping
When we first arrived at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, we had a fantastic boondocking spot with a view, but it was a shared spot.
The next day we moved to the site next door which was totally private and had little chance of someone joining us. Both sites can be found on Forest Road 611 East Rim.
A mile or two toward the main highway is a trailhead, . We took the trail from the parking lot to the rim then turned right and walked for about 30 minutes.
Its my kind of trail, no real climb and scenic. It led us through thick aspen grove.
Back at our campsite, we couldnt get enough of the view.
Neither could Curtis.
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Grand Canyon Campground 4
Image from The Dyrt Camper, Lena L.
Waking up under Ponderosa Pines and Aspens will remind you of the ecological diversity of the Grand Canyon.
You should dress warm in the winter though, as campers may find snow on the North Rim as late as May and as early as September.
Hiking trails from the North Rim take campers to the visitor center, along the edge of the canyon, or through the sprawling desert forest. While no RV hook-ups are available, there is a dump station and potable water for campers needing these services.
Absolutely beautiful and well worth the drive. The north rim offers great trails, beautiful views, awesome dining, laundry room, showers, country store and less crowded then the south rim. I cant wait to go back! The Dyrt Camper Pat W.
Camping On The South Rim Of Grand Canyon National Park
If you have a car and want to drive in, park, and camp on the South Rim, check out Mather Campground or Desert View Campground. The former is located within the busy Grand Canyon Village and open year-round to both tent and RV campers. From March to November, you’ll need to make a reservation up to six months in advance during the less-popular winter months, the camping is first-come, first-served. Camping at Mather costs $18 per site, per night.
The Desert View Campground is on the less developed east side of the park . This campground is only open from mid-April to mid-October and does not offer in-advance reservations. Both tent and non-hookup RV camping is available, and spots are first-come, first-served. The sites are usually full by noon daily and cost $12 per site, per night.
There are no RV hookups at either campground, so if you need all the RV-related amenities, make a reservation at the South Rim’s Trailer Village.
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Finding The Best Grand Canyon Campground For You
Camping in Grand Canyon National Park takes a bit of planning, and sometimes a little luck, but any night spent there is worth it. The Grand Canyon showcases the unrivaled geographical scale of the American West. And while millions of people flock here each year, few actually get the time to take in the entire experience. These campgrounds offer access to a once in a lifetime magical getaway that allows you to fully take advantage of the beauty and splendor within.
Free Camping Along N Long Jim Loop Drive Near Tusayan
The most popular dispersed camping area with easy access to town and Highway 64.
Try to avoid camping with 0.25 miles then search for a spot on both sides of the road for the next 0.5 miles. You can also see some side roads on the map try those too.
As stated, this is a popular area and if you pick a large site someone will probably pull in close to you. For complete privacy, you may want to camp elsewhere or drive up the hill shown to the north on the map as a loop..
About potable water and toilets there are toilets to the north just before the South Entrance. There are many free water stations at Grand Canyon Village .
Verizon has good LTE service at these campsites.
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Peralta Trail Campground In The Superstition Mountains
If youre in the Phoenix or Tucson area during fall or winter , the Peralta Canyon campground off of the Peralta trail is a great place to spend an overnight. A true backpacking trip, it features a 5+ mile out-and-back trip into the Superstition Mountains.
While the hike is very challenging, the views are worth it. From the Peralta campground, youre a short hike from Weavers Needle and miles and miles of desert flowers and giant saguaro cacti. In the Phoenix area, the Peralta Canyon campground is by far our favorite free camping spot.
South Or North Rim Of The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon National Park is vast, so you’ll need to decide if you want to camp on the South or North Rim . If you’re looking to camp somewhere that’s easy to reach and open year-round, you’ll want to plan your trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. According to the National Park Service , 90% of travelers opt to visit the South Rim because it has a local airport and rail service, plus it’s near the Arizona cities of Flagstaff and Phoenix .
That being said, if you want to avoid busy campgrounds and crowded trails, head to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It may be harder to reach and is closed seasonally from mid-October to mid-May but you’ll experience the more wild side of the park. To access this area, you’ll need to drive in, as there’s no in-park airport or rail service. The nearest larger towns are Fredonia, Arizona, and Kanab, Utah , but don’t let the more remote feel deter you. On the North Rim, you’ll be at around 8,000-feet elevation in a section that only 10% of the park’s visitors make the effort to experience.
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Precise Campsite Locations And Recommendations
If you want actual GPS waypoints and my personal recommendations for the best free campsites near the Grand Canyon, please:
- make a small contribution to my fuel funds
As you can imagine, driving long distances on extremely bad roads while exploring and searching for free campsites is not easy and certainly not cheap! I use a lot of extra gas and put a lot of wear and tear on my vehicle so others dont have to do the same! In this regard, your support is very helpful to me. I use the funds to supplement my emergency vehicle repair funds and to pay for all the extra gas usage.
Many travelers want dispersed camping to remain secret. In their opinion, these free locations will become overrun with campers if one discloses too much information.
I disagree! Let me explain.
I understand the visitation impact of COVID-19 on Public Lands. We are told to go outside and enjoy nature as a safer alternative to indoor activities. The result is obvious there are more folks camping and there is more trash and land damage to deal with.
Popular dispersed camping areas are near capacity on most nights leading to frustration for full-timers who depend on free camping in order to travel on low budgets.
The truth is information about dispersed campsites is freely available. There are phone apps showing locations, many websites do the same and Rangers will gladly share tips about where to camp for free in their Districts!
In my opinion, the REAL challenges are:
Tips For Free Camping
When youre taking advantage of free camping, keep in mind many other people have the same idea. To get the best site , arrive early. This is especially important during peak season!
Its also important to secure valuables and lock your RV because of the frequent coming and going in these sites. Weve never had an issue, but use common sense and trust your instincts.
Most of all, enjoy your time making unforgettable memories.
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Black Canyon Camping: The Best Campgrounds And Dispersed Campsites
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado is full of spectacular sights. And if youre looking for Black Canyon camping locations, youre in the right place. There are tons of options for camping here!
But how do you know which one you should stay at during your trip? This article will review the two campgrounds in Black Canyon National Park, some of the closest Black Canyon dispersed camping areas, and a large variety of camping options in the surrounding area.
Youll have everything you need to make an informed decision to what fits your Black Canyon camping needs the best.
This article may contain affiliate links. Which means that we may receive compensation on some purchases at no extra cost to you. This helps us keep this site up and running. Thank you for supporting our work!
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Bright Angel Campground in the Grand Canyon. Photo: NPS/Michael Quinn
Youre headed to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon for an adventure full of fun, but where should you camp? Heres a personalized guide to help you decide where to spend the night on the South Rim from remote backcountry sites to RV heaven.
What type of camper are you?
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Camping Inside Or Near Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park has three campgrounds at the South Rim. Mather Campground, Trailer Village Campground, and Desert View Campground . Visit the official site for more info.
The U.S. Forest Service operates the fee-based Ten-X Campground 2 miles south of Tusayan. No hookups or showers but with pit toilets and water. Go here for information.
There are several private campgrounds along Highway 64.
How To Find A Good Spot
Finding your own secret oasis away from everything is the best part. As long as you’re okay with a little adventure and some unknowns, you’ll feel right at home even when your miles from it. Plus, with a little foresight and these tips you’ll feel way more comfortable setting out to find one.
Start with a good map. Locate the green areas on Google Maps and you’re halfway there. Green means ‘public,’ as in National Park, Forest, Monument, etc. These areas tend to offer camping and the National Forests and BLM lands are the ones with the most dispersed camping to be uncovered.
Paper maps never runout of batteries, and are often waterproof, two things most smartphones can’t compete with. Pick up up-to-date maps before your trip or borrow ours. These can often be found at visitor’s centers or ranger stations, so consider adding a stop there prior to setting out into the woods.
Nothing beats a good satellite image. So flick Google Maps over to ‘Satellite’ and start exploring . Here you can follow roads into the backcountry just as you would on the ground. Keep your eyes peeled for pullouts and dead-ends, as these are often the best spots.
Ask a local or a ranger. Above all else, local knowledge is a great resource no matter where you’re traveling. Though many spots can be highly coveted secrets, it doesn’t hurt to get first-hand info on current road conditions, things to look out for, and maybe even a whisper of a few hidden gems.
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Grand Canyon National Park Camping Regulations To Know
There’s a mix of first-come, first-served and reservation camping at Grand Canyon National Park, so make sure you find an option that suits your style. Those who are interested in locking down a campground well in advance should consider the park-operated Mather Campground on the South Rim or North Rim Campground on the North Rim. If you’re less of a planner and are open to being flexible , check out Desert View Campground on the South Rim.
If you want to camp inside the park, but not at one of the three developed in-park campgrounds Mather Campground, Desert View Campground, or North Rim Campground you’ll need a backcountry permit, which can be requested online.
Grand Canyon Dispersed Camping
When hikers and backpackers think Grand Canyon camping, Bright Angel and Indian Gardens are the South Rim campgrounds that come to mind. What is a dirty-little-secret of the Grand Canyon National Park is the amount of free camping just outside of the park. Granted these sites arent sitting on the edge of the canyon itself, but are totally free, away from the crowds of the park, and are secluded enough where your closest camping neighbors could be a mile away. Pretty rare for the second most visited national park in the US!
We personally like FSR 688 and FSR 307. These sites are close enough to nearby Tusayan, Arizona where if you run out of beer, its a quick drive back into town .
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Best Free Camping Spots In Arizona
Arizona holds many great free dispersed camping spots and campgrounds and there is no doubt that it is one of the best states to go tent camping or backpacking in. There are local parks, state parks, and natural parks that offer camping options for primitive tent camping to full RV hookups. And for good reason too! As youre probably aware, Arizona is a very popular spot for outdoor rec: biking, hiking, backpacking, climbing, bird watching, etc.
The amount of natural features and parks is astounding in the Copper State. In fact, in a single day, you can experience many different landscapes and activities. For a glimpse at how epic a day in Arizona could be, heres a sample itinerary of what is possible:
In the morning, you can visit the high mountain, high desert area in Flagstaff, complete with hiking and biking the San Francisco Peaks. In the afternoon, visit Sedona and Red Rock Country for some slick rock biking, hiking, and a dip in the crystal-clear waters of Oak Creek. Next, you can travel down to the Phoenix area and be amongst the giants: saguaro cactus and picture-perfect pink and purple sunsets. At night, you can head just two hours south of Phoenix to Tucson for some night mountain biking in Saguaro National Park.
Heres a list of our top 10 free overnight camping spots in the Copper State:
What If Fr 688 Is Full
Here are some other Grand Canyon BLM camping options that we havent used ourselves, but are very popular.
Coconino Rim Road
Coconino Rim Road is very close to the Visitor Center and the canyon itself. This might mean that you get more traffic passing by, but you also have a shorter drive and easier access to all of the activities the Grand Canyon has to offer. Not to mention that being close to the Visitor Center means being close to a source of water boondocking gold!
Forest Road 302
Forest Road 302 is also accessible to larger RVs. Some reviewers do mention rutted side roads, so watch out for those, especially if theres snow or mud present. It also sounds like some people had trouble with AT& T service in this area, so keep an eye on your cell reception if thats important to you during your stay.
Forest Road 306
Forest Road 306 is another option thats close to FR 688. Reviews of this area mention plenty of large spots and fresh water access close by. As with other free camping near the Ground Canyon South Rim, be wary of mud, and scout ahead with a toad or tow vehicle if youre unsure.
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