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Is there free boondocking in Sedona, AZ?


Laara

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First of all, I'm very thankful to everybody here who helped us with our sometimes silly questions while we were in process of buying a motorhome. It was not easy and took a lot of patience but we are almost done and ready to hit the road and see how we do. So, thank you very much!!!

 

Now... We are in Phoenix and since weather is better now we would like to go to Sedona for about a week or two. Whatever research I could do showed that Sedona is pretty closed for free camping (our goal is to do as much boondocking as we can to be as much economical as we possibly can). I found some place about 20 miles from town but it seems like it is much further than that if you drive RV, still not sure if I understand everything correctly when researching.

 

I was wondering if anybody knows some hidden jems close to town or in town. We are interested in looking at town for maybe 2-3 days and in hiking and maybe biking in close by area fo a week or so. I've seen very pretty pictures in Red Rock and Oak Creek areas. Would be nice to go there and explore.

 

This will be our first real trip in our RV. Very nervous.

Thanks!

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If you are an Escapee, I highly recommend paying the nominal fee of $10 to download the Day's End Directory. There are several listings under both Sedona and Cottonwood for free and inexpensive places to stay. We have not personally stayed at any of them, so I cannot post the locations here since the information in the Day's End Directory is proprietary. However, many of them are in the Coconino National Forest, mainly dispersed camping, although there are USFS campgrounds there, too. If you have a Senior Pass or an Access Pass, camping would be half-price of the stated fee.

 

http://www.forestcamping.com/dow/southwst/coco.htm

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We love the Sedona area and have been there several times. I don't think there is any free boondocking in Sedona. I don't even like to drive the RV through Sedona.

 

As mentioned there are dispersed camping opportunities on the Coconino National Forest. There are Forest Lands North and South of Sedona. You need to get a Travel Map or a copy of the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) to see where and what rules apply. You can get one by mail, at a Coconino National Forest Office or download the MVUM here. The download is the 2014 map. I don't know when a 2015 version may be available. There is a Forest Service/multi-agency visitor center in Sedona,

 

This is what the Forest website says about dispersed camping with an RV:

"The MVUM does not restrict where forest visitors may camp on National Forest System lands. However, it does restrict where motor vehicles may be used for the purpose of camping. Use of motor vehicles away from designated roads for the sole purpose of camping is permitted on National Forest System lands up to 300 feet from the edge of a designated road where so depicted by the MVUM’s “dispersed camping” symbol (dot notations). Forest visitors may park within 30 feet of any designated road’s edge and camp anywhere on National Forest System lands, except where specifically prohibited. When parking along a designated road, drivers must pull off the traveled portion of the roadway to permit the safe passage of traffic."

 

It has been a couple of years since we have been in that area, but at the time there were some popular dispersed camping sites south of Sedona on AZ-89A and Forest Road 525, There is a popular BLM area right outside the Verde Valley Thousand Trails in Cottonwood on AZ-260. Not sure if they charge for that now or not. There are also dispersed camping areas South of AZ-260 on Cherry Creek Road and other gravel/dirt roads. Not sure which areas are BLM or Forest Service controlled as there are both in the area.

 

If you do not have an America the Beautiful Interagency Pass, you will need a Red Rock Pass even for day use in some areas.

 

Two good websites for finding Forest Service campgrounds are The National Forest Campground Guide and The Ultimate Public Campground Project. The Ultimate Public Campground Project also includes BLM, state, county and local government campgrounds. As mentioned with the America the Beautiful Senior or Access Pass you get 50% off basic campsites (no hookups). This can be as little as $2.50-$3.00 at some Forest Service and BLM campgrounds.

 

On edit: I remembered that some of the National Forest areas around Sedona/Cottonwood are in the Prescott National Forest. You can download that MVUM here.

 

Hope you enjoy your first trip!!!

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There is an area near Sedona that is "Arizona Trust Land".

I forgot about that option. State Trust Lands are usually pretty well marked. There is an easily accessible area East of AZ-89A North of Cottonwood. Take North Oak Creek Valley road East. There are spots to boondock if you turn left at the first cross road, East Willow Point Road (Forest Road 796), and also to the right on West Willow Point road.

 

There is another smaller area off of North Page Springs Road which is a little farther North on AZ-89A. Take the first left onto Hidden Valley Road. There are possible spots on both Hidden Valley Road and North Echo Canyon Road.

 

You can see the places where others have camped pretty clearly on Google Earth.

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Somewhere in the far distance is Sedona. The dirt road going through State Trust Land has been plowed but still had washboard.

The road edge is raised, like plowed snow, and requires a high clearance vehicle and an approach an acute approach angle to clear it.

There are other Trust Land areas less challenging.

desert-camper_spotlight.jpg

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We have boondocked several time on both sides of the Hwy 89A stretch South of Sedona, and North of Cottonwood. It is a great place for doing so. Also, as trailertravel mentioned, the entrance into the Thousand Trails park, on the West side, has some very nice BLM land that sits up high... and it is easy to see the cliffs of Sedona. As others have done, I would encourage you to join Escapees, and thru them obtain the Days End Directory... check Cottonwood, and Sedona.

 

I would strongly suggest that you not go North of Sedona on Hwy 89A. That is a narrow, twisty, windy road that is difficult to turn around on. I am not aware of any boondocking sites there.

 

Beautiful area... enjoy!

Jim

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Laara,

 

Since it seems you are new to boondocking, I will mention again that when dispersed camping in an RV on National Forest lands, you Really need to check the Travel and Motor Vehicle Use Maps/regulations. They can change every year. They can be different in each National Forest. The rules do not have to be posted on the ground. It is the user's responsibility to know and abide by the regulations. The recommendations on this or any forum, publication or website need to be verified for accuracy.

 

In regard to your concern about being South of Sedona, there are a number of places like: Tuzigoot National Monument, Palatki and Honaki Ruins, V-Bar-V Heritage Site, Verde Canyon Railroad, Fort Verde State Park, Cathedral Rock, Gold King Mine, Jerome State Historic Park, the town of Jerome and the town of Cottonwood that are South of Sedona.

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Thank you so much, everyone! I take all your recommendations and suggestions very seriously. We are are going to stop at Forest Service office and get the map and whatever information they can give us. I tried to download the map but was not successful.

 

We will join SKPs right before we are ready to go and get the Day's end directory.

 

We also think maybe to join BoondockersWelcome. I do not know how Day's end Directory compares to BoondockersWelcome.

 

Also, we are very concerned about how to be about grey and black tanks. Are there be areas where we will be able to dump? We have quite small tanks and worry we will not be able to stay off grid longer than 2 days at a time. I am learning now how to conserve water but still worry.

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Thank you so much, everyone! I take all your recommendations and suggestions very seriously. We are are going to stop at Forest Service office and get the map and whatever information they can give us. I tried to download the map but was not successful.

 

We will join SKPs right before we are ready to go and get the Day's end directory.

 

We also think maybe to join BoondockersWelcome. I do not know how Day's end Directory compares to BoondockersWelcome.

 

Also, we are very concerned about how to be about grey and black tanks. Are there be areas where we will be able to dump? We have quite small tanks and worry we will not be able to stay off grid longer than 2 days at a time. I am learning now how to conserve water but still worry.

Not sure why the Coconino NF maps didn't download for you, both North & South worked for me when I posted the link and again just now.

 

Boondockers Welcome says they have over 800 locations. There is one in the Camp Verde area which is not that far South of Sedona and East of Cottonwood. I believe the Boondockers Welcome locations are all private properties, I am not sure how many locations Days End has but it seems to be in the thousands. The listings include private properties, commercial properties and public lands. Harvet Hosts is another group you might want to look into. If you don't mind parking lots checkout Casino Camper. I don't think the one in Camp Verde allows overnights as they have an RV Park. If you are a Good Sam member, checkout the Standby Sams. There is one in Camp Verde who could likely give you local information.

 

Here are some links to help you locate dump stations: RV Dump Sites, RV Dump Stations, RV Dump Stations for the USA and Canada, and Sani Dumps.

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