Guide to Dispersed Camping in Arizona

best dispersed camping in arizona

Best Dispersed Camping in Arizona

Camping is one of the best activities to enjoy a hobby for a few days without external distractions. Whether you enjoy biking, hunting, or some other outdoor sport.

For dispersed or free camping, Arizona is one of the best states in the United States to do that. You can pull off the side of the road and pitch your tent for free in many locations in Arizona.

Dispersed camping may be the way to go for those wanting a cheaper outdoor camping experience in Arizona.

This article will highlight many single camping opportunities in Arizona. Details on these inexpensive camping opportunities can be found below.

Bookmark this article because this may be a guide for your next, or first Arizona adventure.

best camping in arizona

How To Find The Perfect Dispersed Camping Site In Arizona

It’s best to stay far away from the pavement when it comes to choosing a campsite in Arizona. But it’s still up to you. There are many options to choose from: an empty cabin, a ranch, or a mountain spring.

You can also enjoy camping with a view or one surrounded by huge canyon walls or mountain tops. There may also be a natural arch or cave.

There are currently free camping locations on the Bureau of Land Management or U.S. Forest Service land in Arizona. Some spots on a national refuge or land maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers are also available.

It’s necessary to do some research for these locations ahead of time, regardless of the service.

The stay limits are 14 days for one campsite within a 25-mile radius for any 28-day duration for most free camping in Arizona. You can find another campsite to stay at for the following 14 days.

But to avoid a ticket, it must be at least 25 miles from your previous location.

dispersed camping in arizona

Where to Camp?

best dispersed camping in arizona

All over the state, Arizona has many hundreds of recreational areas. Check for interactive map links showing designated campsites and 4×4 trails, hiking trails, and fishing. There is also target shooting, state parks, national monuments, and other recreational opportunities in Arizona.

dispersed camping in arizona

USDA Forest Service

best dispersed camping in arizona
best dispersed camping in arizona

The National Forests in Arizona have countless recreation opportunities. Thousands of tourists are attracted to several world-famous locations every year.

Some of these are the Grand Canyon, Mogollon Rim, and Fossil Creek. Right here in Arizona, you can also experience some of the most pristine, wild areas of the country.

There are no required permits or charges for dispersed camping in Arizona’s National Forests. Travel management controls the land in the Forest Service.

Although now dispersed camping is restricted in some areas. You must have a Motor Vehicle Use Map to know where to camp legally. Highlighted in yellow are the dispersed camping areas indicated on the map.

From each National Forest website, you can get a Motor Vehicle Use Map.

camping in Arizona

Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

best dispersed camping in arizona
best dispersed camping in arizona

Whether you pull over on the side of a trail, pick a spot and set up a camp, BLM land everywhere in Arizona is available for camping. 

Many trails remain open year-round, and maintenance is minimal. 

There are thousands of miles of access routes available. Many of which provide great campsites and many opportunities for recreation. With no authorization or fees, dispersed camping is permitted anywhere on BLM land.

There are designated BLM campsites also available as well. In general, they are crowded, and vacancies can vary. Around the state, there are many BLM recreation areas from OHV and river access areas to wilderness and national monuments. A fee is required at most designated campsites.

dispersed camping in arizona

Arizona State Parks and Trails

best dispersed camping in arizona
best dispersed camping in arizona

Throughout Arizona there are 34 state parks. Most state parks have camping are both primitive and designated. Some parks only have primitive camping on foot, and others are closed entirely.

These campgrounds are available and are well maintained for a daily fee. Also, throughout the state, Arizona Parks and Trails maintain many off-road trails.

These are not state parks. Primitive camping can be found along these trails. There are also other recreation opportunities available. In fact, many 4×4 trails from Arizona Parks and Trails provide access to federal public land.

dispersed camping in Arizona

US Fish and Wildlife Services

best dispersed camping in arizona
best dispersed camping in arizona

A total of 9 wildlife refuges and 3 fish hatcheries in Arizona are maintained by US Fish and Wildlife. These scenic areas provide different recreation opportunities.

These include camping, hiking, and 4×4 technical trails. Several permit motorized access. These areas are mainly for hunting and fishing purposes. Some are on a first-come, first-serve basis, have cabins.

There is a distinct set of rules and regulations in each Wildlife Refuge. Some Wildlife Refuges allow dispersed camping, while others do not.

Several have built camping areas and forbid dispersed camping. Some are unlimited to camping altogether.

dispersed camping in Arizona

National Park Service

Venue to 22 national parks, Arizona draws more than 13 million visitors per year. Primitive and designated camping is provided by most national parks.

Parashant, Lake Mead, and the Grand Canyon have some of the best hiking opportunities, demanding 4×4 trails and camping. These are some of America’s most majestic and preserved lands, and the laws vary from one park to another.

best dispersed camping

Camping in Arizona on Non-Public Lands 

best dispersed camping in Arizona
best dispersed camping in Arizona

In Arizona, some non-public land is also open for camping. These areas are not yours, nor does the public owb them. The owners of these properties, however, are generous enough to let others enjoy their land.

Like if you’re a visitor in someone’s house, you must care for these places. It is possible for the owners to close these locations without warning or public advice.

best dispersed camping in arizona

Extra Tips

best dispersed camping in Arizona
best dispersed camping in Arizona

Dispersed camping is a treat in Arizona. Dozens of campsites all over the state are free and easy to find. Plus, the camping areas are close to great recreation areas and hiking trails too.

Here are a few extra tips about these dispersed camping areas in Arizona:

  1. No Reservations. We’re talking about camping for FREE, so don’t dilly-dally around. Be sure to arrive early at the location where you want to camp. If possible, take advantage of the weekdays.
  2. Be Aware of Fire Restrictions. Each year, fire restrictions are set. Depending on the dry conditions in a specific area, fire restrictions are imposed. Often you’ll need to dig a fire pit. Then be sure to put the fire out completely before going to bed, assuming fires are even permitted. Lastly, never leave an unattended campfire!
  3. No Camping within 1/4 mile of Wildlife Tank. It is not permitted to camp in a location that prevents wildlife from accessing water. It may be the only source of water for miles. Your presence may deter most wildlife from going to a wildlife tank. So keep some distance from them. Share the land with our fellow animals and birds.
  4. 14-day Camping Limit. For most dispersed camping sites, there is a 14-day limit, especially in the National Forests and smaller Arizona state parks. To see how long you can stay, be sure check for the specific area you want to stay in.

Have fun but be MINDFUL. Enjoy the activities and scenery. But don’t forget to follow the rules, clean your trash. Be sure to drown your campfire properly, be respectful of others, and always be prepared.

best dispersed camping in arizona



Rikki Louise

I’m a paradox in the world of writing. I love writing but I hate literature. And oh, I like to publish my own book someday, but I haven’t formulated the plot yet.
best dispersed camping in arizona