A Married Couple Full-Time Traveling the American West in their Converted School Bus

Top Free Camping in Arizona

Top Free Camping in Arizona

We had a ball in Arizona! From backpacking in the Grand Canyon for 5 days to volunteering at a massively cool event (Overland Expo), to mountain biking amongst the ponderosa pines in Flagstaff, we had a blast. Flagstaff was one of the first towns in the West that we have visited that we both agreed could be a future “home base” for our adventures. The abundance of free camping is one of the reasons that we felt so comfortable with the area. Below are our picks for top camping spots in Arizona:

Nearby Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon Forest Service Rd. 328

Tusayan, AZ

GPS: 35.98789, -112.12556

Don’t pay for camping in the National Park! This Forest Service road is just before the South entrance of Grand Canyon National Park and is an easy drive back into the woods. There are hundreds of spots on many different roads and plenty of firewood if the burn ban ever lets up.

With this much free camping available this close to the National Park there are bound to be some rude people that don’t appreciate free spots, but the farther back you go, the less you see them. We had two quiet nights here in late-April.

This camp site was a perfect staging site for our weeklong backpacking trip into the canyon. The National Park is only about 5-minutes away and the road in and out is extremely easy to drive.


Shultz Pass Road Campsite

Coconino Forest Service- Shultz Pass Rd. 553

Flagstaff, AZ

GPS: 35.355505, -111.589746

Visit the little-known National Monuments North of Flagstaff, AZ and enjoy free camping ACROSS THE STREET! We parked here and road out bikes to the Sunset Crater National Monument and it made for a good day. The park is super interesting and there are a ton of pullouts for all sizes of rigs and even tents.

Flagstaff is a dark sky city and the stars were amazing looking out toward the San Francisco Peaks. We really enjoyed the privacy and seclusion of this site compared to some others in Flag.


View from the hill above Oak Creek

Coconino Forest Service Rd. 535

Flagstaff, AZ

GPS: 35.045561, -111.754196

Looking for an escape from Flagstaff on your way to Sedona? This is the perfect stop for you. There are hundreds of spots along this forest service road that seems to go back forever. We camped at the top of the second hill and were very happy with our experience.

There were traces of elk all through our camp and a short hike up revealed a great view of the valley below leading to Sedona. Rigs of all sizes can find a spot here. The farther you drive away from the road, the better the spots get. Be sure and park at least 500 yards from the small pond near the road, this is a forestry pond for the elk population restoration efforts. They will ask you to move.


Walnut Canyon BLM

Flagstaff, AZ

GPS: 35.175436, -111.488306

If you are visiting the Walnut Canyon National Monument or are just getting into town on I-40 from the East, this is a good stop to prepare for a good time in Flagstaff. These spots are nothing special and most are just off of the dirt road, so during the day dust and noise can get a little rowdy. At night it was quiet and we slept well despite our proximity to the Interstate.

We saw several coyotes and birds and stayed here two nights. We would definitely stay here again.


Coconino Forest Service A-1 Mountain Rd.

Flagstaff, AZ

GPS: 35.201236, -111.738389

This road was packed with people camping during the week in May 2018. We simply kept driving until we found a spot. We had great views of the San Francisco Peaks and amazing stars at night. It was very quiet at night and the only complaint we had was some broken glass, which unfortunately is common on Forest Service roads.

Stars over the mountains

There are spots for rigs of all sizes and the road was in decent enough shape, with some wash board. We would definitely stay here again.


Coconino Forest Service- Snowbowl Road

Flagstaff, AZ

GPS: 35.292032, -111.677885

This is a rough road that is quite a distance from town. We are travelling in a 24-foot 2WD school bus and it took us roughly 45 minutes to make it from downtown Flagstaff to our campsite and we didn’t even drive to the deepest campsites. If you need to escape town for a bit, this site is perfect. It is near the ski area and the site was quiet and flat.

It seems that the 4WD roads go around the mountain in all directions as well as some very good mountain biking like Moto Trail and Shultz Creek Loop.


Welch Forest Service Road

Ash Fork, AZ

GPS: 35.217747, -112.377663

This campsite can be as adventurous as you are. There are a lot of spots for big rigs right off of the Interstate and you can explore deeper into the woods for a smaller, more private spot. Keep in mind that the southbound boundary that seems to connect on Google Maps, ends in a dead end and doesn’t connect to the Interstate. You want to exit the same place that you enter.

The road noise was minimal and there are plenty of level sites. Sheep are open-range farmed in this area, so be on the lookout for 1000 sheep that seem to go where they want.


Regardless of where you want to be in Arizona, our travels should give you a decent starting point for your adventures in Flagstaff and beyond. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to subscribe to our e-mail list on the right sidebar of this page; we don’t spam you, we just let you know when an article has published or when we have information we think you might want. As always, follow us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube Channel…You’re the best!

 

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