Free Camping near Flagstaff

Free camping is allowed throughout Arizona with a few stipulations. Such as no metal or wood tent stakes and not within 100 feet of any body of water. The most important consideration for free camping is respect to others and environmental impact.

Several public lands are available, but groups has damaged some of them in the past. Land managers implemented regulations on their websites for those specific areas and for all lands.   In order to prevent unnecessary impacts please follow Leave No Trace policies as well as local regulations when enjoying free camping.

Cave Springs

One site I would recommend checking out is Cave Springs, near Flagstaff. It’s about an hour’s drive up 89 north of Flagstaff. When driving into the site, there are signs clearly showing where to go. If you are heading south on 89, it will be on your left. If you are heading north on 89, look for the sign on the right side of the road about 20 feet off route, it’s pretty hard to miss. There is a dirt turnout along the highway across from where Cave Springs Road leads down to the camping area.

The main attraction of this free campsite is that it has nearby access to three different hiking trails. As well as waterfalls, Mount Elden offers stunning views of Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and downtown. Flagstaff with Humphreys Peak in the distance. Just beyond downtown, making for an amazing skyline at night! Also, there is a great view of the San Francisco Peaks from the campground as well as from the hiking trails.

There are some trees to provide shade and a picnic table, fire pit with grill grate, and a metal food storage box near the trailheads. It’s no problem if you want to walk down to waterfalls or hike in any direction for a few hours!

That being said, Cave Springs is not just a free campsite, it’s also a trailhead for three different trails. You could avoid camping and still take advantage of this wonderful resource. All without having to pay fees or have an Adventure Pass.

The trailhead leading up Sunset Cr is about two miles round trip to a saddle with an amazing view of Sunset Crater Volcano. I rated the trail as difficult and the round-trip hike is three miles in length. If you have more time, there are other trails to explore. Just be sure to respect any signs, barriers or fences that may be in place along the trails!

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Buffalo Park

Another option for free camping is, Buffalo Park which can be found a little over an hour south on 89 towards Sedona. This free sites has several different sites within this popular county park. ranging from car camping sites with water spigots nearby to individual campsites without facilities.

There are also pit toilets available to use along with grills at most campsites. When you felt tired, you can take a break at one of the many picnic tables around the area. In addition, there are several trails in this park, all of which are relatively flat except for one trail that is rated as difficult. The park is open year round and stays fairly busy, so it’s a good idea to secure your site early.

Sycamore Creek

The third site I would recommend for free camping near Flagstaff is Sycamore Creek which is found about an hour north on highway 89 just off Butler Avenue before reaching Sedona.

 There used to be dispersed camping in this area, but now there are campsites. It now has bathrooms, RV hookups, picnic tables, washers & dryers and provided drinking water available during certain hours. Along with firewood bundles available for purchase at the self-pay station adjacent to each campsite. There are also three different hiking trails available along with a picnic area, community fire ring and barbeque grills.

Spring Canyon

I’d highly recommend checking out Spring Canyon, the fourth campsite on my list. You can find it about an hour south on Interstate 89 towards Sedona, just off the highway near Munds Park. They equipped several campsites with picnic tables and fire rings, and there are vault toilets, too.

It’s also got several trails in this area, including a large loop trail and several smaller trails that lead to various places throughout the canyon. Those other two trails lead to either secluded swimming holes or spectacular views of Oak Creek where you can see the red rocks all in their glory!

Check out Camping in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park