Freidlein Prairie Dispersed Camping Area (Arizona)

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Set in Arizona’s majestic Coconino National Forest, the Freidlein Prairie Dispersed Camping Area is a wonderful free camping area to base yourself when exploring the surrounding wilderness. Although it’s located just ten miles from Flagstaff, the peaceful wooded sites feel far away from it all. Whether you plan to hike Humphries Peak or just relax at your campsite, Freidlein Prairie Dispersed Campsite is a fantastic place to spend some time in the great outdoors.

Freidlein Prairie Dispersed Camping Area Guide

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Location and Overview

The Freidlein Prairie dispersed camping area offers free camping in 14 designated dispersed campsites. This area was established as part of an effort to minimize environmental impacts in this very popular recreational destination. Campsites are located in a beautiful wooded area with views of the San Francisco Peaks.

Each of the designated campsites is marked with signage and has space for two vehicles and one tent. Given the size of the campsites, RVs are not recommended. This is a heavily used area, so it can be hard to snag a site during the peak season.

Plus, sites 10-14 are closed from March through August in order to reduce disturbances to nesting Mexican Spotted Owls. Therefore, those wishing to camp in the peak summer months should plan to get there early or go mid-week. The road to the camping area is typically closed in winter, and you can find information about seasonal closures here.

The Freidlein Prairie dispersed camping area is located 10 miles from Flagstaff, AZ. There are plenty of great trails in the area, including the Kachina Trail and the Humphries Trail which leads to the highest point in Arizona. The Snowbowl ski area is also just up the road.

The map below shows the general location of the Freidlein Prairie dispersed camping area.

To get there from Flagstaff head north on Highway 180 before turning onto Snowbowl Road. After 2.4 miles take a right onto FR 522 (Freidlein Prairie Road) and be on the lookout for the campsites a quarter mile in. Most are located on the south side of the road.

Map of Freidlein Prairie dispersed camping near Flagstaff
Map of Freidlein Prairie dispersed camping near Flagstaff (click to enlarge).

What Are the Campsites Like?

The Freidlein Prairie dispersed camping area consists of 14 marked sites set along a two-mile stretch of FR522. Each site has space for a tent and 1-2 vehicles, but most cannot accommodate RVs or trailers. You can set up camp anywhere within 50 feet of the campsite marker, although choosing well-established spots close to the middle is the best way to minimize environmental impacts. Many sites are well shaded by surrounding trees. The sites are very nicely spaced out, providing quite a bit of privacy.

Although some sites may have old fire rings, campfires are never permitted in the Freidlein Prairie dispersed camping area. Creating new fire rings is also prohibited. Respecting these ordinances will help prevent wildfires in this sensitive ecosystem.

The road in is relatively rough and is best attempted by 4WD vehicles. Campers can make it to the area in lower-clearance and 2WD vehicles, but caution and slow speeds are definitely needed. Additionally, if you drive all the way in and are unable to find a site, it can be tricky to turn around, especially if you’re in a larger vehicle.

There is a bit of traffic noise audible at the sites closer to Snowball Road, but it’s relatively minor and decreases at night. The sites further in along the road are very quiet.

There are no restroom facilities so please either pack out your waste or properly bury it. You will also need to pack out all of your trash. Given the remote nature of these campsites, it is essential to practice Leave No Trace principles and leave your campsite better than you found it. Finally, you won’t find any water sources in this area, so it’s essential that you come prepared with plenty of water.

Freidlein Prairie Rules and Regulations

Located within Coconino National Forest, Freidlein Prairie dispersed camping area follows all of the broader dispersed camping regulations you’ll find throughout the National Forest system. You can read the full list on the Coconino NF website, but we’ve highlighted the key considerations below:

  • Camping is limited to 14 days within any 30-day period
  • Only camp in designated sites
  • Per Forest Order 03-04-19-19F, fires are NEVER permitted in Freidlein Prairie dispersed camping area.
  • Properly dispose of human/pet waste
  • Do not discard food- pack it out with all other trash.

Other helpful dispersed camping rules that broadly apply include:

  • Keep your campsite small.
  • Place tents/park where vegetation is absent.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles – more on that below!

If you’re looking for additional information on dispersed camping in the region, check out our complete Guide to Dispersed Camping in Arizona or our Guide to Dispersed Camping Near Flagstaff.

Download Our FREE Dispersed Camping Cheat Sheet

Our free printable cheat sheet outlines how to find the perfect dispersed campsite for your next trip.

Leave No Trace Dispersed Camping

One of the most important considerations when dispersed camping is to follow Leave No Trace principles. The wilderness here is fragile and it is our responsibility to minimize our impact and keep these areas open and beautiful for future campers.

Here are the seven principles of Leave No Trace camping:

  • Plan Ahead & Prepare: Have an idea of where you’d like to camp and always be sure you are camping in an area that allows dispersed camping.
  • Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces: Never camp on fragile ground or create a new campsite.
  • Dispose of waste properly: Pack out all of your trash and bury human waste away from water sources. Ideally, carry out human waste or use a portable toilet.
  • Leave what you find: Never take anything from your campsite. (Other than trash of course!)
  • Minimize campfire impacts: Never create new fire rings and only have fires if permitted.
  • Respect Wildlife: Properly store food at all times and be aware of the area’s wildlife.
  • Be considerate of Other Visitors: Pack out your trash, don’t be loud, and leave your campsite in better condition than you found it.

You can read more about the seven principles of Leave No Trace camping here.

Cell Service, Amenities, and More

The Freidlein Prairie dispersed camping area is set back in true wilderness, so don’t expect to have access to any amenities. Cell service is spotty at best. You might be able to pick up enough signal to send and receive texts, but don’t rely on it for streaming or working.

There is no water source either, so be sure to come prepared with all that you’ll need.

The closest town with services is Flagstaff, which is just a twenty-minute drive from Freidlein Prairie dispersed camping area. Flagstaff has multiple grocery stores and shops selling camping essentials. If you’re in need of a few quick essentials, there’s a Marathon gas station on Fort Valley Road located just ten minutes from the camping area that sells snacks, ice, and drinks.

What to Bring

You shouldn’t expect any amenities when dispersed camping at Freidlein Prairie so you’ll need to come prepared to be self-sufficient.

While we’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs,  below are some of our essential items :

  • Shade canopy– Not all sites at Friedlein Prairie are shaded, so it’s a good idea to bring your own shade structure.
  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – There isn’t a great water source in the camping area, so a good portable water container is a must.
  • Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is critical when camping. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Map – We prefer downloadable GPS maps via the Gaia GPS app. You can get 20% off your annual membership here.
Dispersed Camping Checklist

Our dispersed camping checklist has everything you need.

Want to know the essentials for your next camping trip?

Our dispersed camping checklist has all the camping essentials plus specific items for dispersed camping.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan a great dispersed camping trip at the Freidlein Prairie dispersed camping area.

Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!

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