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
- Location & Overview
- What Are the Campsites Like?
- Rules & Regulations
- Cell Service, Amenities, & More
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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.
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!
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
Find Your Next Dispersed Campsite
Our online video course will teach you everything you need to know to find your next free, dispersed campsite.
Learn how to find the best campsite locations BEFORE you head out. No more showing up to crowded sites with all the spots taken!
In this course, we’ll show you how to research free, public campsites, read USFS maps, locate public land, and plan your next dispersed camping trip.
- How to find areas that allow free, dispersed camping
- How to use public maps to narrow down your search
- How to use online apps to identify where camping is permitted and view the surrounding terrain
- How to view your exact location in relation to camping opportunities when you’re out looking for a site – even without cell phone service!
- Confidently plan your next camping trip
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!