With its wide range of terrain, Arizona is a sought-after location for snowbirds, vacationers, and Arizonans. Depending on the time of year, locals from Arizona will head north for a respite from the summer heat. During the cold winter months, many people from other states flock here in groves to catch a break from the cold. Because of this, boondocking in Arizona is quite popular.
Best Time of Year to go Boondocking in Arizona
Overall, the best time of year to go boondocking in Arizona is during the winter months. January through April are some of the best times to pay a visit here. And while November and December are warmer here than many places in the U.S., it can still be a bit chilly, especially in northern Arizona within the higher altitudes.
Another thing to consider when boondocking in Arizona is the varying terrain and climates. For example, southern Arizona is generally warmer than northern Arizona. Yuma and Tucson can be pretty comfy at around 70 degree days in February. Sedona, a popular snowbird destination, will be cooler at approximately 50 to 60 degree days.
Most of the desert gets chilly in the evenings, but still not as cold as Michigan in January. Then there’s Flagstaff or the Grand Canyon area, where you are higher in elevation, and it snows.
If you are prepared for any weather type when visiting Arizona, boondocking here is easy and offers many places to explore and things to do. The consistency of sunny, blue sky days makes Arizona an RVer’s dream winter destination.
Activities to do While Boondocking in Arizona
Arizona offers visitors and locals a variety of activities. From the northern area of Sedona, Cottonwood, Jerome, Prescott, and Flagstaff, the outdoor activities seem endless. The red rocks that define Sedona and the vortexes known for their spiritual powers provide miles upon miles of hiking.
If hiking isn’t your thing, then hit the shops that line the historic town of Jerome. Taste Arizona wines. Drink Arizona craft beer. Wander the quaint cities of Sedona or Cottonwood. Or take in Whiskey Row while visiting Prescott. You’ll feel like you’ve entered the Old West as you enter some of the oldest salons in the area!
Off-roading is prevalent almost everywhere you go in Arizona. With staging areas all across the state and trails for every type of adventurer, you won’t get bored exploring the backcountry on your OHV here.
Maybe you’d rather ride your mountain bike alongside the Saguaros, Chollas, and Prickly Pear Cactus. Arizona has some of the best-known mountain biking trails in the West. Ride amongst the beauty of the pines in Prescott or Flagstaff. Enjoy the backdrop of the red rocks in Sedona. Or try your luck along some of the rocky trails near Tucson.
There’s something for everyone in The Grand Canyon State. It’s no wonder it’s one of the best places to live and play.
7 Best Spots for Awesome Boondocking in Arizona
With thousands of acres of free camping in Arizona all over the state, you’ll find a place that matches your camping needs. Novice or expert boondocker, desert or mountain lover, quiet or full of people – It’s all here. All you have to do is be willing to wander off the beaten path. And here, that’s one of the easiest things to do.
Boondocking in Arizona is equivalent to getting lost on purpose.
Forest Road 525 Outside Sedona, Arizona
GPS: 34.8613, -111.9442
Known as the Main Drag, this popular dispersed camping site is easy to find just off of 89A in between Sedona and Cottonwood, Arizona. The road is dirt and washboard, so prepare for some bouncing. Overall, it’s relatively doable for almost any size rig coming in if you take it slow.
There are spaces for tent campers and nearly every size rig here, including Class A’s. Cell signals go in and out depending on where you camp and your service, so if you need it, just drive to a different spot.
If you need a quick overnight, then find a spot amidst the many other RVers towards the beginning of the road. If you plan on staying for a while (up to 14 days) then drive in further. The first five or six miles offer various sites, and the further in you go, the better the views. This area is famous for its red rocks, and this boondocking spot in Arizona is one of the best places to experience natural beauty.
With hiking, biking, and OHV trails nearby, the weekends here are pretty busy. Sedona and all the surrounding mountain towns are not far, so Forest Road 525 offers a great home base for many different people. And with that many people comes a lot of dust, red dust, that coats everything. But I’d say the views, the activities and the beauty here are all worth any red dust.
Craggy Wash Dispersed in Lake Havasu City, Arizona
GPS: 34.5935, -114.3619
Craggy Wash is known as one of the best boondocking sites outside of Lake Havasu City in northeastern Arizona. Just ten miles from town and even closer to Lake Havasu, Craggy Wash Dispersed is perfect for exploring the area. The road in is bumpy but easily manageable. High clearance vehicles aren’t needed, but there are berms at many of the camping access spots, so be aware of those.
If you’re looking for a quick overnight stay, the entrance area, affectionately known as the Parking Lot, works well. There are many campers here, so don’t expect privacy. If you’re looking for fewer people and more beauty with the surrounding hills, drive further in. While there are still plenty of campers along the road, there is a lot of space to find a spot that suits your needs.
This is a popular weekend spot for off-roaders and dirt bikes, so the road stays quite busy. However, the beauty of the geological features combined with easy access to all Lake Havasu City has to offer makes this site quite convenient and comfortable.
Speaking of convenience, there is reportedly decent cell service for most carriers. And, if you’re looking for something unique to the area, the Desert Bar, located in the middle of the desert, is less than an hour’s drive away.
Plomosa Road in Quartzsite, Arizona
GPS: 33.7488, -114.2162
Only a ten-minute drive north of Quartzsite, Plomosa Road offers ease of access to camping and town. With thousands of spots available here, you’ll have no problem finding a campsite. Most cell service plans also work well out here. Mountains are off in the distance for your viewing pleasure. The cactus is gorgeous and abundant, so watch your furry friends.
Some of the best desert sunrises and sunsets take place here every day. The road is well maintained and accessible for all types of rigs to maneuver in and around.
If you don’t know Quartzsite, this area is home to thousands, if not millions, of snowbirds every year. Home also to the Desert Gardens Rock, Gem & Mineral Show, and The Big Tent Show, one of the largest RV shows in the nation, you don’t want to miss Quartzsite. There are hundreds of other vendors selling everything from firewood to gems to books to almost anything you can imagine.
Quartzsite and the surrounding Bureau of Land Management lands have thousands of spaces for all types of RVers. You won’t find anything quite like this anywhere else in the U.S. If you want to experience Quartzsite in all its glory, be here in January and stay a few months. If you visit during late spring and summer, you’ll be lonely and hot as everyone has headed north.
Coconino Rim Road near the Grand Canyon, Arizona
GPS: 35.9623, -111.9644
Heading north towards the Grand Canyon is an RVers best bet when the summer heat starts to set in. Camping at Coconino Rim Road is another best bet. Here, you’ll find free camping only 12 miles from the South Rim Visitor Center of Grand Canyon National Park. And better yet? It’s just a mile hike through the woods to the South Rim!
You’ll have to drive through the national park to access the site, but the sites are just outside the park’s boundaries. The camping areas are just off the road but quietly tucked in the Kaibab National Forest trees. Most sites have campfire rings and are well maintained. The dirt road is accessible without any major washboards or ruts.
Best of all, the cell service is reportedly excellent. Camping for free with cell service just outside of a national park? Major score! This fact alone might make it one of the best boondocking spots in Arizona.
Snyder Hill in Tucson, Arizona
GPS: 32.1567, -111.1157
Snyder Hill is quite convenient if you plan on visiting anything in nearby Tucson. Close to I-10 and the quaint downtown Congress area, this free campsite with decent cell service works great for the ease of visiting the many places in Tucson and the surrounding area.
However, this isn’t the most scenic option on the list. While there are Snyder Hill and the desert fauna to give you a bit of nature, you’ll also have the nearby traffic, houses, and a stoplight or two to keep you company.
The roads into Snyder Hill can have ruts depending on where you enter. However, if you take the time to seek a proper entrance, which there are many of them, almost any rig can fit in here. You also find a lot of spaces ideal for a large group gathering for any size camper.
If you seek a place to stay that offers a hint of the stark beauty of the Tucson desert, convenience to a metropolitan area, and a hint of blissful camping, this is the place for you. It all depends on your style of camping.
Mittry Lake Dispersed Camping in Yuma, Arizona
GPS: 32.8199, -114.4701
Mittry Lake, just outside of Yuma, Arizona, is a beautiful oasis in the middle of acres upon acres of agricultural fields. The road is gravel but provides easy access, and any rig could make it in without any issues.
Along the entrance road, there are a few spots to pull off and camp. The further in your drive, as you get closer to the lake, the areas become limited to allow for day use. However, as you access the lake, a couple of camps sites are explicitly for overnight use. While many campers parked quite close here, the lake is also within sight, along with some of the cleanest vault toilets we have ever seen.
If you‘re not so inclined to camp with so many other RVers, keep driving down the road, and there are more pull-outs to give you more privacy with Mother Nature. The lake amidst the desert views offers stunning desert sunsets that light up the skies. But if you require internet to work while camping, note the cell service is quite spotty here, if it exists at all.
Garland Prairie Road Dispersed in Williams, Arizona
GPS: 35.2878, -112.1334
Garland Prairie Road camping is located just west of Flagstaff in the Kaibab National Forest. The road is gravel and allows easy access for any size or type of rig. However, if you venture off into smaller roads, those can be rutted and full of potholes, so just be aware of where you are driving. Cell service is spotty depending on your carrier but could work based on your cell booster.
Many sites are in wide-open spaces, but some have beautiful evergreen coverage reminding you that you are in the forest. This is quite a popular space being free and not too far from Flagstaff, where there are plenty of places to explore. There has been some road noise reported, but to have the convenience of location combined with the forest’s beauty, it’s hard to complain.
Getting Lost Boondocking in Arizona
Getting lost in Arizona has never been so easy. With sunsets that illuminate the sky like no other state seems to do, cactus that tower above you, and wildlife only heard in the distance with faint yips and howls, who would want to be found? No matter your joy, from hiking to biking to off-road vehicles to finding your spiritual self, boondocking in Arizona is the best way to get lost.
Build Your Boondocking Confidence
If you’re ready to build your confidence to try boondocking, the RV Masterclass Boondocking 101 course can help! This course will help you learn the ropes, gain assurance, and ultimately save money by being able to take advantage of free camping opportunities!
Boondocking 101 walks you through the best safety practices and shows you, step by step, how to find the best boondocking campsites. With this course, you’ll gain lifetime access to in-depth boondocking resources. So feel free to revisit the lessons anytime to brush up on your boondocking skills!
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