5 Boondocking Locations and Free Campsites in Arizona



Arizona has over seven hundred million residents. But unless you’re driving down Interstate 17 or 10 between Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Tucson, you’d never know it. The Grand Canyon State is full of wide-open spaces, from the Sonoran Desert in the south to the San Francisco mountain range up north. So no matter where you are in the state, there are plenty of great places to do some off-the-beaten-path camping.

Boondocking in Arizona is also good for seeing America’s national parks. There are three of them in the state — Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, and Saguaro. Arizona is also home to a dozen or so national monuments. Throw in the fifty or so Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wilderness areas, and it’s nearly impossible not to come upon an exciting boondocking site.

Can I Go Boondocking in Arizona?

The Grand Canyon State has something of a reputation for blazing hot summers and a lack of water through most of the state. That reputation makes many campers think that boondocking in Arizona isn’t possible. This only applies to a part of the state, particularly the most urban areas around Phoenix and Tucson. You’re less likely to find legal boondocking locations in these more populated parts of the state.

Additionally, boondocking in a hot desert isn’t as difficult as it might seem. A little boondocking preparation goes a long way towards having a great experience. For example, make sure to bring enough water supplies and ample shade. Boondocking in Lake Havasu or camping on the shores of Lake Pleasant is also a great way to beat the summer heat. There are also some amazing spots for boondocking in Arizona high up in the mountains. The areas around Flagstaff and Sedona have much cooler temperatures. You’ll find national forests and wilderness areas that charge no camping fees. 

With over 12.2 million acres of public land in Arizona, you won’t need to go too far to find an ideal boondocking spot. Take a look at some of our favorite off-the-grid locations for getting outside in Arizona!

Top Locations for Boondocking in Arizona

You’ve made it this far — it’s obvious that you’re ready for adventure along Arizona’s backroads. You’re just not sure where to start that journey. Below are some of Arizona’s most highly rated and accessible boondocking sites.

Indian Bread Rocks

5-Boondocking-Locations-2.jpgThis BLM-managed area is about three hours from Phoenix. Indian Bread Rocks serves as the access point to the Dos Cabezas Mountains Wilderness. This camping area is located along the slopes of the mountain. You'll find a variety of wildlife and plenty of hiking opportunities. Experience the stunning sights of canyon terrain as you set up camp. 

Amenities: Since this is a dispersed camping site, there are few amenities available. At the start of the road leading to the area, you can find vault toilets, trash cans, and a small office to purchase water. Indian Bread Rocks is a first-come, first-serve area. You’ll want to arrive early and come prepared with any utilities you’ll need. 

Capacity: Dispersed.

More information: Indian Bread Rocks 

Kofa National Wildlife Range

5-Boondocking-Locations-3.jpgThe Kofa Wildlife Refuge is exactly what you’d imagine the American Southwest to look like. There are massive cacti, craggy mountains erupting from the flat desert floor, and the most beautiful sunsets in the world. If you’re boondocking in Yuma, the refuge is only an hour northeast of the city. 

Amenities: There are no amenities on the refuge, meaning no water and no bathrooms. You’ll want to fill up your fresh water tanks and empty your black water before arriving. 

Capacity: Dispersed. You can only camp within 100 feet of the road and a quarter-mile away from a water source.

More information: Kofa National Wildlife Range 

Clark Peak Corrals

5-Boondocking-Locations-1.jpgThe island mountain ranges of southeastern Arizona don’t get much attention. It's thanks to their remote location three hours from Tucson and four hours from Phoenix. However, with an elevation of 9,000 ft, Clark Peak Corrals and the surrounding Sky Islands Forest is an ideal boondocking location in the summer. It does get a fair amount of snow, so the campground is closed from mid-November through mid-April.

Amenities: The campground offers pit toilets, benches, and trash cans, but little else. You’ll need to be self-sufficient and carry plenty of water for this voyage.

Capacity: 2 sites

More information: Clark Peak Corrals

Mittry Lake Wildlife Area

5-Boondocking-Locations-4.jpgWhat’s something you’d never expect boondocking in Yuma in the desert? A marsh filled with waterfowl! At its heart is the 600 acre Mittry Lake. This location is very popular with southwestern Arizona’s hunters and anglers. Three mountain ranges and dozens of hiking trails are located just beyond the lake.

Amenities: Mittry has absolutely no amenities or even designated campsites. You’ll be living a true boondocking experience at this stunning lake. 

Capacity: Dispersed. You can camp here for ten calendar days each year.

More information: Mittry Lake Wildlife Area 

Freidlein Prairie Dispersed Camping

5-Boondocking-Locations-5.jpgThe area around Flagstaff is one of Arizona’s most popular camping areas. Camping in Flagstaff features cooler temperatures and breathtaking scenery. If you’re thinking about boondocking in Sedona or boondocking in Grand Canyon National Park, Flagstaff is conveniently located between them. Freidlein Prairie is a popular no-fee camping area. The site is only a few miles outside of Flagstaff in a beautiful forest setting. Freidlein Prairie Road is near Arizona Snowbowl ski hill.  

Amenities: Fire rings are the only amenity you’ll find at these pull-offs. You’ll have the opportunity to tell spooky stories around the campfire while you enjoy the beauty of nature around you. 

Capacity: 14 sites. However, five of them are closed from March 1 to August 31 to protect wildlife breeding grounds. The whole road closes after the first snowfall in late November.

More information: Freidlein Prairie Dispersed Camping 

Soak Up the Sun in Arizona with Cruise America

Are you ready to experience the enchanting beauty of the desert? Are the mountains of northern Arizona calling your name yet? If they are, Cruise America has everything you need to start your next adventure. They offer a range of RV rental options, from relatively spartan truck toppers to 30-ft rigs with space for seven. How you experience Arizona’s charm is up to you!

Cruise America has a few locations around the state, making it even easier to find an RV and start your journey. Take a look at some of Cruise America’s RV rentals today for your next Arizona boondocking adventure.