Sedona Area Boondocking

Coconino National Forest (928-527-3600)
Red Rock Ranger District & Visitor Center
8375 AZ-179, Sedona, AZ 86351
(928-203-2900)

Pulatki sign off FR-525

FR-525 to Palatki & Honanki

Dispersed Camping on the Coconino National Forest (USDA Forest Service) – Info, rules and maps of all areas where camping is allowed.

I’ve seen conflicting information  about whether dispersed camping here requires Recreation Passes and Permits, such as America The Beautiful Annual Pass (including Senior Pass) and the Red Rock Pass (required pretty much anywhere to park for hiking, etc.).  I spoke to a ranger at the visitor center and he said no pass or permit is required for dispersed camping at the sites listed below (FR 525, etc.).  He added that if an area does not specifically have a sign saying a pass is required, then it does not.  He reiterated that there is a 14 day stay limit, that all vehicles must be self contained and no dumping of any kind is allowed.

Current Red Rock District Road Status (USDA Forest Service) – Updated status reports on road conditions and if closed due to weather, etc.  Click on road and it shows Google Map images.

Coconino National Forest – Recreation Opportunities Map (lists camping info with size limitations, maximum stay, etc.).  Click here for other map options.

FR-525 (Loy Butte Road)

GPS: 34.8462, -111.9132

Loy Butte Road sign
I drove up SR 89A several times before I finally saw this sign and I only saw it when coming from Sedona toward Cottonwood since it’s on that side of the road.

Campendium.com – A lot of campers remarked on how busy it is out here and how much traffic on Loy Butte Road due to Pink Jeep tours, etc.

FreeCampsites.net – Great, very private, however our first night a couple of men broke into our campsite. Other than that the campsite is beautiful! View of the devils bridge trail/

Sedona Arizona – RV Info (33 and Free – 5/21/16)
Helpful info about experiences boondocking on Loy Butte Road (FR 525). Nice pictures and info on the surrounding area and where to dump, etc.

Boondocking Sedona (Small House Big World – 4/21/16)
There is plenty of free land to settle down on about 15 minutes west of Sedona. Just a few horribly bumpy miles, and you can park with spectacular views of the colorful mountains not far away. The problem is that the road to get to it is very bumpy and a total washboard.

Sedona Boondocking (Watsons Wander – 3/13/13)
So what if we had to drive 8 miles down a dusty, bumpy dirt road to get here. The view alone was worth the layer of red dust that now covers the airstream. We’re perched high up on bluff above the town with views of the famous red rocks.  (Also info on hikes)

Circular area not far from 89A off SR-525

FR-525C

GPS: 34.8613, -111.9442  – Further up FR 525 (Loy Butte Road)

Campendium.com – Go west on 525, a.k.a. Loy Butte Road, from 89A. Plenty of spots along 525, but continue to the 2nd cattle guard and take a left to get to 525c. Our 31′ 5th wheel had no issue with the roads, nor did we need 4WD. Our spot was secluded, with big views of the cliffs in front of us.

525 & 525C Intersection

Intersection of Forest Roads 525 and 525C. That’s about 3 miles from the turn onto FR-525 from SR 89A. 525C veers to the left and 525 goes straight, leading to Palatki Heritage Center in about another 5 miles (really interesting ruins of ancient cliff dwellings which I highly recommend, as you can tell by checking out my page). Also, Honanki is about 6 miles from Palatki, and if you’re out here, you shouldn’t miss it either.

FR 525C view
In October, 2017, I visited a friend who was boondocking out here. This spot is pretty much right on where the GPS coordinates above for 525C  lead you.

The views are really beautiful here, but since I like to get out and about during the day and explore the area, I honestly wouldn’t want to have to drive those roads on a regular basis.

Loy Butte Road (Campendium.com) – We stayed in a larger site on the east side of Loy Butte Road (FR 525). Being somewhat familiar with the area, we came in from Dry Creek Road in Sedona because we knew we wanted to be at the North end of the road. Either way is going to require several miles (4 – 6) of rough road — gravel, dirt, & rocks with several washboard areas and some fairly substantial exposed rocks. It is nothing that cannot be negotiated in a passenger car – or pulling a 38′ fifth wheel – as long as you take it slow and easy (we drove 10 – 15 mph most of the time).

Angel Valley

GPS: 34.8136, -111.9007 (on the other side of SR 89A from FR-525 above)

(Photo from Campendium.com)

Off grid camping with great views and cell phone service.

Deer Pass Trailhead

GPS: 34.813444, -111.900406 (Next to Angel Valley above)

Map from USDA Forest Service – North of Cottonwood on 89A, turn right on 89B. Immediately on the right is the Deer Pass Trailhead, apparently a popular place for horse enthusiasts.
FreeCampsites.net – Perfectly situated just South of Sedona, toilets for use and holds a good data connection for smartphones.   (My friend and frequent boondocker, Ron Bunge of HitchItch.com, recommended this spot.)  On 89A North, go 1.6 mi past N. Page Springs Rd, turn right.

Fee Campgrounds:

Coconino National Forest Campgrounds – Links to info on Cave Springs, Manzanita and Pine Flat Campgrounds in Oak Creek Canyon Recreation Area.  Be aware there are hairpin curves between Sedona and Flagstaff on Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive (14.5 miles total).  Not long after getting on the road from Sedona, I saw a sign that said nothing over 50 feet allowed 12 miles ahead.

Red Rock Campgrounds Table – Info on 5 campgrounds that accept reservations (Manzanita, Cave Springs, Pine Flat, Chavez Crossing Group Camp and Clear Creek) Coconino Forest Campgrounds do not accept Credit Cards on location (except for Cave Springs Campground). We accept cash and in-state checks only. When making a reservation through Recreation.gov, you may use a credit card.

Links to More Sedona Boondocking Info:

FreeCampsites.net – Sedona boondocking info, including Oak Creek Canyon and nearby Flagstaff.

Schnebly Hill Road – East of Sedona (Free Campsites.net)
The road from Sedona (Schnebly Hill Rd) is a rough, steep mountain road with switch backs. It is wide enough for vehicles to pass each other but not for RVs to travel on. The first mile is paved. The next 6.5 miles are rugged and rough. Do not take this dirt road in wet conditions. High clearance required! During five of those miles, you ascend 1,800 feet to Schnebly Hill Vista. I would feel ok bringing a truck camper or van up this road. Trailers and RVs should come from the I-17 exit.

Boondocking in Sedona (Jack and Jill Travel)
They travel in a Sprinter van, so I don’t know if their info is appropriate for larger RVs, but they have nice photos and info from their experiences.

Overview of Camping and Picknicking Locations in Red Rock Country (Red Rock Country.org)

True Boondocking in Sedona (Shell on Wheels – 3/21/15)
This was our first actual boondocking stay. We had dry camped and overnighted numerous times, but this was our first instance of just setting up camp out in the middle of nowhere.  It was fantastic, free, and liberating.  We would not be having a typical Sedona visit: no jeep tours or aura readings, just a couple of days in the outdoors alone.

Sedona Boondocking (Aluminarium)
Loy Butte Road is the hot spot to boondock this season. The views are spectacular and its proximity to Sedona and Cottonwood make it a perfect basecamp.

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  • I had a guy ask this question on my Comments page, but it related to this page, so I’m including it here. I’d love to hear from others who have camped here about how you feel about the safety of the area:

    Hi. I am camping on FS 525 at this moment, but wondered what you meant when you said the first night men “broke into” your campsite? Should I be concerned about my safety? Thanks.

    This is my answer:

    Hi Robert,

    It wasn’t me who wrote that about somebody breaking into my campsite. I know you’re talking about a comment I included on the page I did about Sedona boondocking.

    That comment was made by another camper from Free Campsites – https://freecampsites.net/#
    about that area. I thought it should be noted, but really, I’ve had
    lots of friends boondock in that area without any problem whatsoever.

    As a woman who travels alone, I am always concerned with safety, but I would boondock there based on everything I’ve heard from people who have been out there. I’d love it if you would share what you experienced there, though. 🙂

    • Robert Hunter

      Thanks.
      Well, I’ve been here two weeks and two strange things happened on the same night. First, late one night a motor home pulled into my campsite and parked maybe 20 feet from me. I didn’t notice it until later when I let my dog out. I don’t know why people have to encroach on the privacy of others. One person suggested maybe they felt safer camping close to another RV. At any rate, they were gone when I got up. I would have given them hell if they hadn’t left early. And that same night a very loud vehicle stopped close enough for me to hear their engine and voices for an hour. I got up and pointed my huge spotlight around but couldn’t see them. A little while later the same vehicle drove slowly by my campsite and stopped. By the time I got up they had driven away. Strange. I also camped in this same spot for 10 days in May of 2016. And a strange thing happened one night too! About 10pm or so one night I hear a knock on my door. I got up and pushed open the door really fast holding my gun and jumped out. There was some Asian young man with a strong accent there who said he had just left the Grand Canyon and wanted to camp with me, whatever that meant. Why he chose to drive over a mile up the road and stop at my spot I can’t imagine. If he wanted security, it would have made a lot more sense for him to stop near the highway where there were several spots with multiple RVs parked there. I was not happy at all he was bothering me and I waved my gun around to let him know it. So he drove off. So that kind of thing is why I never, ever travel without a gun and have for nearly 40 years. If you don’t have one, you should get one and learn how to use it. Either that or get bear spray.
      There have been two or three other strange things that have happened in my many years of outdoor traveling, but I won’t bother with the details.

      • Thanks so much for the follow up, Robert – I really appreciate that!

        First, I hear that all the time from people wondering why with all the open space, other campers frequently park way too close to another in boondocking areas. I guess they feel there is better safety in numbers, but that is still not appreciated by those looking for more privacy.

        But the most bizarre and disturbing thing you experienced was the guy actually knocking on your day to say he wanted to camp with you! There is no excuse for that and I bet you were glad you were armed then for sure.

        These kind of reports are disturbing to say the least, but that being said, I have a lot of friends who boondock almost exclusively and never have any kind of problem at all. But being alert and prepared is always the best way, no doubt about that.

        • Robert Hunter

          Always glad to share my experiences. And, yes, I was glad to be armed when I got the late night knock on my door. You just never know in the world what can happen to the unprepared. One of the main reasons I camp away from other people when possible is to get privacy and quiet and be able to let my cat and dog outside with no worry about vehicles or people. Just coyotes!
          I appreciate blogs like yours and keep up the good work.
          Have you ever camped on BLM land like near Yuma? I haven’t had the chance to completely explore your site.

          • I’m thankful for folks like you that share first-hand experiences. I think we all should help each other out in that way. I stayed for a bit in Yuma, but it was at a friend’s lot, not BLM land. I wasn’t impressed with Yuma in general, though. I did camp in Quartzsite with a group that I had a lot of fun with in 2006, but that area was one of those things that after I did it once, I haven’t been tempted to return. 😉 http://maliasmiles.com/arizona/quartzsite/

          • Robert Hunter

            Well, I like the Yuma foothills area because it’s closer to the BLM land and there’s a real nice Fry’s, Wallmart and everything else you need close by, including gyms. The produce is Yuma is cheap and of high quality. I will be spending my third winter in a row at the Yuma BLM. There are lots of people from all over the country who go there every year. One family I know well has been coming there for like 16 years. There are some beautiful spots, there is water, sewer dump and garbage cans, bathrooms and showers nearby and it’s only $180 for six months.
            I have been to Quartsite several times too and while I like some things about it, there’s not much in the way of shopping and amenities. I sort of prefer Lake Havasu to Quartsite.

          • For sure that makes sense to me and maybe I just didn’t see enough of Yuma since I was basically there visiting my friend who owns that lot before I went on to Quartzsite. I also remember getting really sick with what they said was the “desert crud” that a lot of people came down with there and that was enough to cure me of wanting to go back. LOL

          • Robert Hunter

            Never heard of that. Sounds like maybe just a flu that was going around. Which reminds me that this year I must get a flu shot. I didn’t the last couple years and last year I paid for it!
            Anyway, even though I am not a big people person, I really enjoy the company at Yuma. It’s nice to get to camp near people you know. They have a potluck about every week and we all get together for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I have gotten help a couple times when I needed help with a project. They also have jeep trips all over the place in the desert to abandoned mines and such. You might enjoy it?

          • I always have fun with other RVers whenever I do meet up with groups, although it’s not a normal thing for me. This winter I will be in Tucson area for a few months and looking forward to meeting some folks there.

          • Robert Hunter

            Like I said, I’m not a big people person now, though I was when I was young. LOL. I’d love to hear about Tucson as I haven’t been there yet. Having only been RVing for almost two years, I have spent my time in Yuma, Flagstaff, Sedona, Phoenix and last summer I went to Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Utah. There is a whole lot of Arizona I haven’t gotten around to seeing yet so I am eager to learn!

          • Hey, I’m going to email you about Tucson, etc. and continue the discussion there since it doesn’t relate to this page. 🙂

          • R. Fleming

            Hi Robert, I was reading your conversation and wanted to ask you about the BLM land you mentioned near Yuma. I go there in February but have had trouble finding Boondocking. Could you give me some more information? Thanks much!

          • Hi there, I’m not sure if Robert is still following this post, but I will send him your email address for response since it doesn’t really relate to this page. Good luck in Yuma!

          • Robert Hunter

            Did you try Googling the subject? There is a huge BLM area just NW of Yuma that is quite popular. Part of the area is even free and the rest requires a permit. You can get a 2 week permit for I think $40. The only thing is that while there is a place to dump garbage and waste tanks and fresh water, there are no hook ups, period. They do have a few toilets though. Quartzsite to the north has a nearly identical area too.

          • R. Fleming

            Thanks, Robert. I appreciate your reply. I guess I misspoke. I usually visit with a friend who stays in a campground just West of Wellton. I scouted the great areas West of Yuma, and the Mittry Lake area, but only found one area near Wellton–near Coyote Wash. It was quite rainy when I was there, and very mushy, so I passed. Nice people though! Thanks again! Rhonda

          • Robert Hunter

            I know some people that really love Fisher’s Landing, which is north of the BLM at Senator’s Wash. I think it’s on Lake Martinez. There are a few services there I understand.

          • R. Fleming

            Thanks yet again, Robert. I’ll certainly check it out!

        • Robert Hunter

          BTW, I went to the campsites just off Thousand Trails near Cottonwood and was disappointed. Too many RVs parked too close together in a rather ugly spot close to Hwy 260. I don’t plan to ever stay there.

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