The Lesser-Known, FREE Camping Areas in Arizona (Spring 2024)

If you’re a camper and you want to explore the beautiful state of Arizona, there are a variety of free camping spots that offer some great views. These spots have been selected because they not only represent the diverse terrain in Arizona but also provide an opportunity for scenic drives as well as hiking trails.

Camping doesn’t have to cost a lot of money if you know where to go in Arizona.

Did you know that approximately 42% of the entire Arizona landmass is made up of public lands? 

That makes the Copper State the ideal place for dispersed camping and boondocking. There are just so many places to go.

Where can you camp for free in Arizona?

Being the sixth largest state in the United States, it is not easy to shortlist the popular dispersed camping sites. Here are some of the areas where campers like to go.

  • Near Grand Canyon National Park. While camping within the Grand Canyon National Park boundaries is not free, you can disperse camp along Forest Road 302 or Forest Road 688 at the South Rim, near the entrance.
  • Southern Arizona is popular among campers especially during the winter when temperatures are moderate. There is plenty of BLM camping to be found here. For boondocking, check out Quartzsite which usually serves as a base for those camping in the surrounding areas such as Dome Rock Mountain and Plomosa Road.
  • Coronado National Forest, located in the southeast of Arizona covers 1.78 acres of mountain ranges. The peaks (also known as sky islands) are forested surround by dry deserts.
  • Tonto National Forest is the largest among all 6 national forests in Arizona. The terrain ranges from 1,400’ all the way to 7,400’. The Theodore Roosevelt Lake and Bartlett Reservoir are inside this area.
  • Coconino National Forest covers everything from plateaus to canyons and mountain tops around the Mogollon Rim right in the center of Arizona state.

Scaddan Wash, Quartzite

Scaddan Wash, three miles west of Quartzite, is a great place to camp. There are hundreds or perhaps thousands of free campsites around Scaddan Wash for RVers.

While you won’t find much solitude (few trees exist here), you will be able to get to town and the services available there, such as laundry and showers.

During the winter, Scaddan Wash comes to life and becomes an almost town of its own. Bear in mind that camping limits of 14 days are still in place. Don’t miss the sunrise and sunset at Scaddan Wash as they’re absolutely magnificent.

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Quartzsite

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most remote and primitive destinations where you can camp. Unlike many other parks, it’s off the beaten path, on pothole-riddled roads with no services or amenities. It’s the place to go if you want to get away from it all.

Kofa is home to some of the most magnificent sunsets in the United States, tucked away on cliff sides. The majority of RVers in the region rely on solar power to minimize generator noise, and there are many sites available for you to find your own slice of solitude.

Clark Peak Corrals, Coronado National Forest

Clark Peak Corrals, with just two campsites, has pit toilets and picnic tables for the fortunate few who get them during the cooler summer months. Clark Peak remains inaccessible throughout the winter months but provides relief from the scorching Arizona sun in the height of summer at 9,000 feet above sea level.

Clark Peak Corrals is located at the end of HWY 366, which means it’s far from everything and has a true get away from it all vibe.

Pinery Canyon Road, Coronado National Forest

Campers and adventurers with high-clearance vehicles may camp for free along Pinery Canyon Road about 40 miles away from Wilcox. Each of the campsites is basic, lacking toilets, drinkable water, or picnic tables, although most have a built-in fire pit.

Keep in mind that the Pinery Canyon Road has a few hazards, but they can all be managed with a little planning. Because the road goes over several washes on the way up, some caution is required. You could become stranded on the other side if a flash flood or storm sweeps in, which might take hours or even days to pass.

The views and rock formations are incredible here, but so are the sunrises and sunsets.

  • Closest town : Wilcox, AZ

EADS Wash, Tonto National Forest

The EADS Wash campsite is situated next to the Salt River. The surroundings are beautiful and offer plenty of solitude for campers. Keep in mind that this area is gone to flash floods. Check the weather forecast before you leave home and pick your campsite carefully.

With that in mind, EADS Wash’s settings are lovely and plentiful. While the primary road is mostly stable, the smaller roads may be silty and soft, taking only seconds to get stuck before you realize it.

Consider using a four-wheel drive to access this location.

  • Closest town : Globe, Payson and Roosevelt Marina, AZ

FR 237 Camping Area, Coconino National Forest

FR 237, also known as the Pumphouse Wash is the place to go if you enjoy wildflowers, pines, and free camping in Arizona. Campers will have access to toilets, spacious campsites, and hiking routes near FR 237 to make for a complete and stress-free camping experience.

There are two lakes in the area, Willow Springs Lake and Woods Canyon Lake, which may be fished, swum, or paddled about on a SUP or kayak. FR 237 offers a peaceful break for city dwellers and those seeking a vacation from their routine.

Fourmile Canyon Campground, Aravaipa Canyon

Fourmile Canyon Campground, with its 14 rustic campsites gets very busy during the weekends, especially during javelina and deer hunting season. Camping season begins in May and lasts until October when the temperatures start to drop.

The campground is surrounded by a lot of trees, providing campers with moderate levels of privacy even when it gets busy. For a relaxing retreat, the campground is encircled by mountains and juniper bushes. Amenities include toilets, camp tables, water, and fire rings.

For those driving a RV, the maximum length is 22′.

Snyder Hill BLM Camp, Tucson

RVers, motorhomes, and tent campers alike can utilize free camping in Arizona south of Saguaro National Park. While there is little seclusion in the desert region, there are plenty of established sites for a few days or a couple of weeks.

In any case, there are lots to see in the neighboring regions, so you’ll want time to explore them. Snyder Hill campgrounds are in close proximity to city noises and lights, which can be disturbing. There’s also a firing range nearby, so you may expect some loud noises.

Despite the fact that this location has its drawbacks, many campers have praised it particularly for boondocking and confined camping.

Mittry Lake, Yuma

Mittry Lake is the pinnacle of excellent free camping in Arizona. Lakeside sites, moderate and wonderful winter temperatures, as well as easy access to town make it a prime pick.

Mosquitos are unwanted guests with the proximity of a lake, yet with enough bug nets, bug repellants, and candles, you should be able to keep the bugs away. Check out the many trails through the rocky hills around or hang out on or near the lake on a kayak, SUP, or simply fishing for additional activities.

The park’s only facilities are a boat ramp and a trash container.

Things to know about dispersed camping in Arizona

  • No fee. Most of the dispersed campsites are on public lands and are free.
  • Choosing campsites. Pitch your tent at the designated campsites, if any. Otherwise, pick a site that has been used before.
  • Maximum stay duration. 14-day limit unless stated otherwise.
  • No amenities. Most campsites do not have any amenities. Bring your own water and body wipes.
  • Waste disposal. Pack out all your waste.
  • Fire restrictions. You may require a permit for campfires. Check with the U.S. Forest Service website.

Amanda Williams

Amanda Williams is a writer, plant-nerd, and outdoor enthusiast. She has traveled extensively, around the U.S., throughout Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Everywhere she treks, she takes time to enjoy the outdoors. John Muir is her hero. She aspires to inspire people to live better as he did.

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