Free camping is great anywhere you go, but free camping in Arizona is one of the best. While many people envision forested parks, mountain streams, and fields ladened with wildflowers, the Arizona desert lies in waiting.
Here you’ll find surreal beauty within the towering Saguaros bathed in the unexpected, vibrant colors of the desert landscape. You’ll find wide-open vistas of blue skies, brilliant stars, and an entire community of RVers that have fallen in love with the stark beauty that you can only find in the Arizona desert.
How to Find Free Camping in Arizona
But how does one find free camping in Arizona? Years back, you’d grab a map of the area or visit the local forestry service. And while you still can, you can use apps for finding a campsite, too.
Some of the most popular apps and online tools on the market include Campendium, FreeCampsites, Allstays, and iOverlander.
Many full-time RVers and weekend tent campers love to use Campendium. It gives amenities, the best rig sizes, reviews, and directions for your smartphone. Additionally, it provides locations for dumpsites and water fill-ups, and it’s all free.
FreeCampsites is a website that lists free campsites, including some less than $10 per night. However, it has some glitches, like the zoom capabilities getting stuck while searching. Its color-coded tent symbols make it easy to recognize the type of campsites and their price points.
Plus, like Campendium, it’s completely free to use, and you can also add in sites that you have found and write reviews.
Allstays is another popular tool for finding free camping. For a small one-time fee, this app will tell you everything mentioned above and more. Here, you’ll also find bridge heights, dump stations, water fills, and even the Walmarts and gas stations that allow you to stay overnight.
iOverlander serves those that love overlanding. Meaning you want to go off the beaten path and find the trails that may be a bit harder to find. This free app, geared towards van-lifers and off-roading adventurers, is useful for all tent and RV campers. When you can’t find something on the other apps or sites, iOverlander might surprise you with a spot only listed here.
For that matter, it pays to have all the tools, or at least a handful of them. When you have a few to choose from, you can find some of the best free campsites in Arizona.
The Best Free Camping in Arizona for Any Size RV
The best thing about free camping in Arizona is that the open spaces here can fit any size rig. So whether you seek an off-road adventure that puts you among the cacti or something a bit more mellow, it doesn’t matter your size. It only matters your desire for the best free camping in Arizona.
Forest Road 525, Sedona
Easy to locate, just off of Arizona Highway 89A between Sedona and Cottonwood, this popular free campsite is more commonly called the Main Drag. The road in is all dirt and can be pretty washboarded at times. But with patience, almost any size rig, even a 43 ft toy hauler and Class As can call the Main Drag home, at least for 14 days.
Views from every campsite will vary depending on how far in you decide to drive. Staying closer to Highway 89A will give you more traffic noise and more neighbors, but it will also provide easier access to town along with a smoother dirt road.
However, the further you travel down the six miles of road, the better the views. This area is known for its red rocks, starlit skies, and spiritual vortexes. So, if you can handle the washboard, head on down. You may not have a choice, though, as this is one of the most popular free camping sites in the Sedona area.
It is known for its beauty and easy access to Cottonwood and Sedona. But some of its popularity can also be chalked up to connectivity. The cell signal can be spotty to nonexistent in one area but strong just a mile down the road. Again, for the views and the service, take your time, be patient; you’ll find your little piece of heaven here, along with everyone else.
Pro Tip: The key to getting great internet to your RV is to prepare beforehand. Here’s how to stay connected on the road.
Craggy Wash, Lake Havasu City
Two nights or two weeks, Craggy Wash is a popular free Arizona camping site located a mere 10 miles from Lake Havasu City in northwestern Arizona. Although, if you only want to stay two nights, the Parking Lot is a gem compared to driving down the dirt road. Called the Parking Lot because of the plethora of campers here, the ease of access may be worth it.
But if you want a bit fewer people and more beauty with the surrounding hills, drive further in. While you still may have plenty of campers along the road, you’ll have more space to find a spot that suits your needs.
But, similar to Forest Road 525, it has a dirt washboarded road and has some berms to access most of the sites. Although you don’t have to have a high clearance vehicle, it might be helpful. All size rigs spend time here, including 40-ft fifth wheel toy haulers.
The beauty of the geological features combined with easy access to town makes it a worthwhile spot, not just convenient. Additionally, most carriers report decent cell service throughout this entire area.
But if you need more reason to stay, there’s always the Desert Bar. Located about an hour’s drive from Craggy Wash, this bar is worth the drive. You won’t want to miss this diamond in the rough in the middle of nowhere, run entirely on solar, and only open in the winter months.
Plomosa Road, Quartzsite
Quartzsite is home to thousands of snowbirds every year. Additionally, it hosts the Desert Gardens Rock, Gem & Mineral Show, and The Big Tent Show, one of the largest RV conventions in the nation. Combine that with hundreds of other vendors in Quartzsite, selling everything from firewood and gems to books and antiques, it’s like visiting one of the largest yard sales in the world.
And you’ve got a front-row seat to it all when staying at Plomosa Road, just ten minutes north of Quartzsite. At this free camping site in Arizona, you’ll have your choice of literally hundreds of spots to choose from for any size rig imaginable.
It has a well-maintained dirt road, and you can easily find a spot. However, you’ll have many cacti as your immediate neighbors. You won’t have natural access to shade, but you can witness some of the best desert sunrises and sunsets here. Plus, you can send many photos of the stunning colors to all your friends back home, too. Most major carriers have decent cell service here.
Quartzsite and the surrounding Bureau of Land Management lands have thousands of spaces for all types of RVers. There’s nothing else quite like the wide-open free spaces anywhere else in the nation. Visit during the winter months to see what all the hype is about. If you stick around for the summer, you might be the only people there. Everyone has headed north.
Saddle Mountain, Tonopah
This Arizona free camping site lies just 50 miles west of Phoenix. You’ll have the big city nearby with the quiet desert nights to sleep in. The main entrance to Saddle Mountain is off of Courthouse Road, just west of mile marker 13, offers easy access for all rigs, including fifth wheels and Class As.
Take advantage of the large lot at the intersection of Salome Highway and Courthouse Road to unhook your toad and scout out ahead of time, if necessary. While the road in is easily accessible, it is gravel. The many large rocks require patience and time to get where you need to go.
If you drive down a few miles, you’ll come across smaller access roads giving you even more choices for that perfect free desert camping in Arizona. But similar to many dispersed sites, the further you travel, the more rutted the road and the less cell service you’ll have. Most carriers here have decent cell service until you drive further in. Then it can become quite spotty and less reliable than you may need.
You’ll find many places to explore here. It has plentiful and spacious campsites and stunning views of the surrounding red rock mountains. But you’ll also find many flies and at times a fair amount of traffic, likely due to the several nearby farms. Overall, Saddle Mountain is an excellent respite from the city while being close enough if need be.
Darby Well Road, Ajo
Free camping in Arizona should require camping next to Saguaros, in my opinion. Camping at Darby Well Road is genuinely all about the majestic Saguaro and various other stunning desert plants, including the Organ Pipe.
Located just five miles from the quaint desert town of Ajo, Arizona, and 40 miles from the U.S./Mexico border, this free camping site is convenient and remote. Plus, it’s only 30 miles to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
While it has two entrances, the main entrance is just south of Ajo on Arizona Highway 85. This entrance is easy enough for any size rig, as long as you go slow. The road in is dirt and gravel and can be a bit washboarded in places. The other entrance is just outside of the town of Ajo and is narrow with a few tight turns and washes that don’t bode well for large rigs.
There is a lot of open space to explore throughout Darby Well Road. However, some camping sites are small and can be treacherous to drive into. If you have a big rig, you may want to stay closer to the main road. The sites aren’t as stunning, but you won’t have to risk getting stuck while driving through the many washes.
The same goes for cell signals. If you need a good cell signal, stay closer to the main access point. The further in you drive, the prettier the sites, but the less connectivity you’ll have. At times, it is even nonexistent. But if you don’t need it, the further in you go, the better. You’ll come across fewer people and more of the mighty Saguaros.
Garland Prairie Road Dispersed Camping, Williams
Believe it or not, there is more than just desert camping in Arizona. The further north you head, the more trees and fewer cacti you’ll come across.
Garland Prairie Road dispersed camping is a beautiful free camping area located west of Flagstaff in the Kaibab National Forest. This is a convenient site for access to Grand Canyon National Park an hour away. You can stay under the stars with evergreens as your closest neighbors. You may have some road noise, but weigh that with the proximity to the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, and forest sites.
The area has many access roads leading you to a variety of sites. While the main road is hard-packed and gravel, allowing for access to any size rig, these smaller roads can be pretty rutted. As with any dispersed site, scout ahead if possible and take your time.
Gravel and dirt can be tricky and deceptive. But if you’re patient, your 40-ft fifth wheel or Class A will make it here just fine. Cell service may be another story, though. You may have spotty service, depending on your carrier and the tools you have to boost it.
Many sites are in wide-open spaces, but some have beautiful evergreen coverage. It gives you room to explore with Flagstaff nearby.
Cieneguita Camping Area, Elgin
Sixty miles southeast of Tucson, you’ll find Cieneguita Camping in Elgin, Arizona. This beautiful area is quite convenient for access to Patagonia State Park, Tombstone, and Bisbee. Here you can experience the desert climate and forested regions. Situated at 4,500 ft, it can get cold here, especially in the evenings.
You’ll find yourself with a lot of space to explore, surrounded by rolling hills, mountains, and even some trees for possible shade. The road begins paved and then becomes dirt. However, it has little to no ruts, potholes, or washboards. Even the largest rigs can camp here without having to scout it out first.
This is a popular off-roading site, but it is relatively quiet and peaceful. Because of this, the spots fill up fast, although you can park alongside the road in the designated campsites. You can also go through fences to seek out more room. Just close the gates that you open along the way.
The beauty and cooler temperatures here make this a sought-after campground despite the limited cell service. Depending on the tools you have to boost signals, you may get what you need for connectivity. If you don’t need it, you’re golden. If you do, come ready with what you need. Preparation makes you a happy camper.
What to Know About Free Camping in Arizona
Free camping in Arizona is plentiful. But if you plan properly, free camping generally means no services, so you need to have the proper supplies to make your dispersed camping enjoyable. This means knowing what you need for electricity and where to access water, fuel, and waste sites.
Keep in mind, most free camping in Arizona occurs during the winter months. Temperatures stay in the 60s and 70s instead of the 90s and 100s. But desert nights can get quite chilly all year round, especially in the winter. Come prepared to stay warm, with things such as heaters or warm clothes.
If you have solar, make sure to set up your panels to get the most out of the Arizona sunshine. If you utilize a generator, have it in prime working condition and filled with the fuel it needs to do its job.
As for fresh water and dumping tanks, Arizona is stock full of RVers. This means there’s also no shortage of sites to access water and dump your tanks. These sites can include rest stops, gas stations, visitor centers, and RV parks, many even free of charge.
So, before heading off into one of Arizona’s many wonderful free camping sites, use the apps to find necessary RV supplies. Preparation allows you to stay out longer before having to fill or empty tanks.
Find Beauty and Free Camping in Arizona
No matter where you are in Arizona, you’re bound to find a terrific place to call home while exploring the Grand Canyon State. There’s not much that compares to camping next to the Saguaros, barrel cacti, or the prickly pear. And then when you put the surrounding red rocks and colorful skies into the picture, is there really any other place to go?
Free camping in Arizona is second to none. It’s easy to find beautiful sites all throughout the state and almost easier to find the supplies you need to do so. Who needs a campground when you’ve got the desert?