known for stunning red rock buttes, steep canyon walls, and pine forests, free camping in Sedona, AZ is the best way to get a dose of its red rocky beauty and mysterious landscapes up close.
This hidden gem lies north of Flagstaff near the Coconino National Forest, offering guests a year-round mild climate and a vibrant art community.
The landscape surrounding Sedona also features unique recreational areas like Slide Rock State Park and Seven Sacred Pools. Making it an ideal location for boondocking, long-term camping, or a quick and budget-friendly camping trip.
No crowds, no costs, no formal campgrounds, no reservations, dispersed camping in Sedona will help you to maximize your budget while enjoying the type of private, pristine nature that you could never find at a paid campsite, or RV Park.
Since dispersed camping areas are located outside populated city limits, Boondocking in Sedona is somewhat difficult to find.
Fortunately, we’ve got you covered.
In this “A Complete Guide to Free Camping in Sedona, Arizona” We’re going to share everything you need to know about boondocking in Sedona, Arizona. Including how to find best places to legally camp for free in Sedona and top things to do while staying near this amazing city.
Is Boondocking Legal in Sedona?
Inside the city—no, but outside the city in the surrounding Coconino Forest—yes, there’s plenty of options.
However, while this area is National Forest Land, and thus public land, you can’t camp anywhere you want.
Many areas are prohibited in an effort to preserve the surrounding wildlife. Who doesn’t want to help with that? Help contribute by following rules and restricted areas.
We recommend looking for signs that designate the area as a free camping spot, or by calling the Coconino National Forest Ranger Station to check with them.
You can reach them by telephoning this number: (928) 527-3600.
5 Things To Know Before Boondocking In Sedona
The landscape surrounding Sedona offers some of the best high-desert, and forest camping, in the nation.
However, as many veterans will tell you, one of the most dangerous environments to attempt a camping trip is in the desert.
We want to help you be prepared for anything, so we’re providing you with our most important Sedona camping tips!
Only Camp at a Designated Campsite, or 100ft from Any Administrative Site
Normally, you can camp anywhere in a National Forest in Sedona, but that’s not the case in Coconino National Forest.
These beautiful woodlands surrounding Sedona only allows camping in designated areas. You can still camp for free on BLM land but its limited.
In other words, keep your eye out for signs that explicitly say it’s ‘okay’ to camp there.
Or you can call the Coconino National Forest offices at (928) 527-3600, and check with them directly. It’s always better to be safe, rather than sorry.
Bring Clothing for Every Season (Including a Rain Coat in the Summer)
Sure, Sedona is known for its mild climate, but that doesn’t mean it’s without it’s extremes.
In the winter the temperatures drop below freezing and snowfall becomes rather common.
You can sometimes get t-shirt weather during the day and double jacket temperatures at night.
On the other hand, in the summer temperatures are normally pretty hot; however, frequent rain storms bring in cooler weather.
You should always carry a rain jacket or umbrella on you when hiking. This rain may even cause it to get rather chilly at night. When visiting Sedona, prepare for anything!
Load Up on Sunscreen, Water, and Long-Sleeved Clothing
It’s a desert out there people! That means, despite Sedona’s milder climate, you can expect hotter temperatures and much drier air.
If you’ve never visited the desert before you might find yourself underestimating it.
Bring at least a gallon of water per day, especially if you plan on participating in extraneous activity. Failing to do so can lead to dehydration, sun stroke, or even death.
Furthermore, you should wear long sleeved clothing that breathes well. I find that stretchy activewear works the best.
It’ll protect your skin from UV radiation and retain the moisture leaving your body. Lastly, apply sunscreen to any exposed skin every hour. Trust me, camping with a sunburn SUCKS.
Pack in, Pack Out
All the campsites on this list are primitive and lack modern amenities, including trash cans.
Oh, so I just throw my rubbish on the ground then? NO! You should leave your campsite looking better than the way you left it.
That means burying any human excrement 6-8 inches deep, taking all your trash with you to be properly disposed of, and not defacing nature in any way (ex: graffiti).
Let’s make sure future generations get to enjoy nature too, by keeping it clean.
The desert is already a place devoid of life and moisture, where plants struggle to survive.
A roaring inferno is the last thing they need. Help them out by drowning your fires and following fire bans when they’re active.
Failing to do so can result in fines or prison time. Visit the Coconino National Forest website for current fire restrictions.
Top 3 Things to Do in Sedona
Sedona is Arizona’s hidden gem! It’s well-known by people in the region, but you may not know what to see or do when you visit if you’ve never been to the Southwest United States.
Well, fear not, we’re here to help! Here’s our top three favorite things to do in Sedona:
1. Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village Shops
If you want to get a taste for Sedona’s eclectic, artsy culture you need to visit Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village Shops.
The cobble stone streets, vine covered walls, and intricate arches will draw you in, but that’s not what will make you want to stay.
This unique place offers everything from restaurants and art galleries to expert jewelers and traditional Southwestern crafts.
You need a big savings account and a good afternoon to really get the full experience here.
You’ll leave with an empty wallet, but you’ll return home with some incredible works of art.
For more information visit the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village Shops website.
2. Slide Rock State Park
Sedona might be known for its mild temperatures, but it can still get hot, especially in the summer. Well, sweat no more—you can visit Slide Rock State Park to cool off!
This 43-acre historic apple orchard was originally established in 1912 by a man named Pendley who pioneered the first successful irrigation system in the region.
In 1987 the state acquired the land, and now its used as a watering hole by locals and visitors.
You can spend the day hiking through the red canyons, swimming in one of the many water areas, or learning about the farm’s history at the old cabins. It’s a great place to take the family, or have a romantic picnic!
For more information visit the Slide Rock State Park website.
3. Devil’s Bridge Trail
They named it Devil’s Bridge because only Satan would be crazy enough to traverse it.
Just kidding! Thousands of visitors take vertigo inducing pictures on this natural, stone bridge every year.
Infamous for its thin arch and impressive desert backdrop, Devil’s Bridge provides a unique experience that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else on the planet.
A note of warning: the road leading to the trailhead, Forest Road 152, is perilous with deep ruts, large boulders, and numerous sharp rocks.
We recommend you leave the RV or sedan at home and bring a vehicle with high clearance and 4×4 capability.
After that, enjoy the easy 3.8 round trip hike to Devil’s Bridge and get yourself a picture walking over it!
For more information visit the Coconino National Forest’s website.
8 Best Places for Free Dispersed Camping in Sedona, Arizona
Alright, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for! We chose the RV campsites with the most amenities, the top things to do and see nearby, as well as the most gorgeous scenery.
Here are 8 stunning boondocking locations and FREE, first come, first serve campsites in Sedona, Arizona to experience just how magical Sedona is.
1. Loy Butte Dispersed Camping – Coconino National Forest
If you’re ambling up Highway 89-A pull keep your eye out for Forest Rd 525. It’ll take you West of Sedona to a beautiful spot among red cliffs and high desert trees.
Access this area with caution during the rainy season as the sand turns into clay.
This slick surface will make it difficult for RVers to traverse the landscape, and you run the risk of getting stuck.
Why do we love it?
There’s few places on Earth that look like the landscape in Sedona, and nowhere is that more evident than Loy Butte.
You get to wake up to rusty red sands dotted with dark green desert trees, all cast beneath a deep blue sky.
This primitive campsite offers isolation, silence, and most importantly, beautiful nature. It’s one of our favorite places to stay while exploring Sedona!
Distance from Downtown Sedona: 14.3 miles or roughly 29 minutes of travel time
For more information on camping at Loy Butte Dispersed Camping visit HERE.
2. Schnebly Hill Road – Coconino National Forest
Get on the I-17 and ascend 6000 feet into the Coconino National Forest. You’ll eventually find an old mountain road called Schnebly Hill.
It’s a semi-perilous path that takes you between Ponderosa Pines until depositing you into a series of vast openings.
A nearby wilderness area features several small lakes and plenty of forest acres to explore.
Why do we love it?
The biggest pull for this primitive site is its large camping areas. You can fit 2-3 RVs in a single spot, meaning you can go camping in Sedona with all your closest friends or family.
Furthermore, you get the benefit of nearby off-roading trails, along with a wilderness area overflowing with hiking paths.
Schnebly Hill Road gives you that perfect outdoor isolation with the people you care about the most!
Location: Schnebly Hill Rd, Sedona, AZ 86336
Distance from Downtown Sedona: 39.2 miles or roughly 52 minutes of travel time
For more information on camping at Schnebly Hill Road Dispersed Camping visit HERE.
3. Pumphouse Wash Dispersed Camping – Coconino National Forest
A popular dispersed camping spot hidden in a ponderosa pine forest which sits along SR 89A, halfway between Sedona and Flagstaff.
Nearby areas of interest include the two aforementioned cities, Oak Creek Canyon, Lake Mary, as well as a variety of other recreational sites.
It also offers excellent group camping sites if you’re traveling with a larger group.
Why do we love it?
You can visit two amazing Arizona cities from this impressive camping spot—Sedona and Flagstaff! Either one will hold your interest for 2-3 days, and once you get bored, you can visit one of the many other recreational areas nearby.
Go fishing at Lake Mary, or hiking at Oak Creek Canyon. You can’t get bored here so it’s the perfect place to bring a large, high-energy group!
Location: Pumphouse Wash Dispersed Camping
Distance from Downtown Sedona: 17.5 miles, or roughly 31 minutes of travel time
For more information on camping at Pumphouse Wash Dispersed Camping visit HERE.
4. Angel Valley Road – Coconino National Forest
There’s something truly charming about a high desert landscape—quiet, brutal, and visceral.
The one surrounding Angel Valley Road fits this description exceptionally well.
You get imposing red cliffs gripping the horizon and rusty sands dotted with prickly pears and tall, dark green vegetation.
They say, in the desert everything has teeth, because if you can’t bite, you die. Here, you’ll discover why.
Why do we love it?
It’s private, it’s quiet, it’s pristine. It’s basically the kind of camping experience you look for when you’re headed out for an adventure.
Furthermore, Angel Valley Road sits fairly close to Sedona, at least more so than many of the other entries on this list.
You can wake up in the morning, go fishing in nearby Oak Creek, shop in Sedona, and then go for a sunset hike on Deer Pass Trail.
Distance from Downtown Sedona: 10.7 miles, or roughly 18 minutes of travel time
For more information on camping at Angel Valley Road visit HERE.
5. Lawrence Crossing Campground – Coconino National Forest
Drive past Montezuma Castle National Monument on the Arizona Veterans Highway and take a dirt road that weaves its way over to Lawrence Crossing Campground.
This gorgeous spot lies on the doorstep of Wet Beaver Creek, a charming stretch of water which offers both a knee slapping innuendo and a great spot to relax after a long day.
Why do we love it?
When its harder to get somewhere you can expect less people. That’s why the long bumpy road to Lawrence Crossing keeps the Campground from getting visited by large crowds.
Here you get privacy along with a distance from modern civilization that allows for breathtaking starry skies.
Furthermore, you’ll be close to Montezuma’s Castle, a cliff dwelling worth checking out while you’re in the area.
Location: Rimrock, AZ 86335
Distance from Downtown Sedona: 18.7 miles, or roughly 36 minutes of travel time
For more information on camping at Lawrence Crossing Campground visit HERE.
6. Edge of the World (East Pocket) – Coconino National Forest
Well, they call it the ‘Edge of the World’ for a reason. Get ready to take a long drive through the backcountry of Coconino National Forest.
For the full effect you need to venture here in the winter when the snowy landscape and fog encrusted sky lends credence to the areas nickname.
Grab some warm ciders or coffee and prepare for a cold morning!
Why do we love it?
Are you an introvert? Or just a person in need of some privacy? There’s no better place than the Edge of the World.
It’s far from Sedona, but this overlook will make you realize that you don’t need to visit the artsy town for a good time.
The views are out-of-this-world, the nearby recreational activities are numerous, and the night skies are beyond impressive. If you love nature, you’ll love this campground.
Location: Edge of the World
Distance from Downtown Sedona: 39.6 miles, or roughly 1 hour and 42 minutes of travel time.
For more information on camping at Edge of the World Overlook visit HERE.
7. Childs Dispersed Camping – Coconino National Forest
In 1908 the Arizona Power Company constructed the Childs Power Plant which diverted much of the stream you see today, and turned it to a trickle.
It wasn’t until 2004 that the current owner of the plant decided to decommission it, and return the creek to its former glory.
Today, it’s a very popular dispersed camping spot. A short walk up the stream will take you to an old hot springs resort. Definitely one of our top three favorite camping spots on this list!
Why do we love it?
This is a great spot for a family camping trip! You can spend time wading in the river, walk one of the nearby hiking trails, or ford the stream and jump in the hot spring on the other side.
The popularity of this camping area will help you meet new friends in the community. Share a bottle of wine with them while you relax in the hot springs!
Location: Child’s Power Rd, Arizona
Distance from Downtown Sedona: 79.1 miles, or roughly 3 hours of travel time
For more information on camping at Childs Dispersed Camping Area visit HERE.
8. The Main Drag 525 – Coconino National Forest
Drive down Highway 89A until you reach Forest Road 525. After taking this scenic dirt road for several miles you’ll come across The Main Drag, a dispersed camping spot.
Its neighbors with the Sedona Wetlands Preserve and Sedona itself. Fortunately, it’s a lesser known area so you can expect little to no people at the campsite!
Why do we love it?
The Main Drag is anything, but a drag. You get to experience desert camping at its best: beneath the cool shade of tall trees with a beautiful view in the distance.
Bring your 4×4 vehicle and go off-roading through the landscape to Sedona Wetlands State Park.
You can bird watch there and catch other wildlife stirring in the tall reeds. It’s a nice, quiet place to explore the desert!
Distance from Downtown Sedona: 11.4 miles, or roughly 18 minutes of travel time
For more information on camping at The Main Drag 525 Dispersed Camping Area visit HERE.
You can’t visit Arizona without checking out Sedona! It’s one of the coolest cities to camp near in the United States.
If you’ve ever camped there, we want to hear about it. Tell us your story in the comments below!