Sedona, Arizona draws thousands upon thousands of visitors every year. Many arrive to take in the excellent mountain biking, hiking, and stunning scenery that Red Rocks country is famous for….
Sedona, Arizona draws thousands upon thousands of visitors every year. Many arrive to take in the excellent mountain biking, hiking, and stunning scenery that Red Rocks country is famous for. However, what many visitors don’t know is that there are tons of free, dispersed camping opportunities near Sedona!
You can wake up in your tent or RV from the comfort of you campsite and be on a trail or strolling downtown Sedona in less than 20 minutes from many of these excellent campsites.
To make your trip planning a bit easier, we’ve compiled this handy guide of the best dispersed camping areas near Sedona, Arizona.
Sedona, Arizona Dispersed Camping Guide
- The Basics
- The Best Dispersed Camping Areas Near Sedona
The following sections contain all the basic information you need to plan a free, dispersed camping trip near Sedona, AZ. Everything from when to camp to what to bring.
This is the essential info before you head out!
When to Camp Near Sedona
Sedona is canyon-country and as such its climate varies dramatically depending on your altitude. Generally speaking, the best time to visit Sedona is during the spring months from March to May.
Camping is no different, and the spring and fall will be your best bets to plan a successful trip. You’ll avoid the scorching summer temperatures while avoiding the cold that comes in the winter. In general, we recommend between February – May as well as September – November for your Sedona camping trip.
On the edge of those seasons we recommend being prepared for very cold nights and even the potential for snow!
What to Bring
The canyon, desert, and mountains surrounding Sedona require that you come prepared for your camping trip. This is especially true for dispersed camping, since you can’t depend on the amenities of a developed campground.
- Map: A good map is essential to making sure you are on public land, exploring the area, and learning more about your surroundings. We recommend this National Geographic version for a good overview of the Sedona area.
- Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
- Portable water container – None of the camping areas included in this guide have dependable water access. As such, a portable water container is essential.
- Cooler – Keeping food and drinks cool is critical when camping, particularly in Sedona’s climate. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
Permits and Fees
One of many camper’s favorite things about dispersed camping is the lack of need for any permits or fees to be paid. Dispersed camping near Sedona is no different, and none of the dispersed camping areas in this guide require a permit or have any associated fees.
However, it is always a good idea to do a quick internet search or check with the local field office before setting out.
It is also worth noting that many of the day use areas near Sedona require visitors to purchase a Red Rocks Pass. The Pass helps to fund conservation, maintenance, and general upkeep of the heavily used wilderness in the Sedona area.
For the most up to date information on camping in the Sedona area, your best bet is to contact the Red Rock Ranger District.
Seasonal fire restrictions and fire bans are very common in the areas surrounding Sedona. It is critical that you check and obey any and all fire restrictions. The surrounding wilderness has seen several devastating wildfires in recent years, so please only have a campfire if it is allowed.
Keep in mind there are permanent fire bans in place at:
- Oak Creek Canyon
- Pumphouse Wash
- Fossil Creek
- Wet Beaver Creek
If you are able to have a campfire, be sure to completely put it out prior to going to sleep or leaving you campground for any amount of time!
Pets are welcome at all of the dispersed camping areas included in this guide. Pets should be kept under control at all times, especially in areas where wildlife could be present or when you have other campers nearby.
Remember to pack out pet waste and ensure that pets are protected from Sedona’s extreme temperatures.
- Environmental Impact: The Sedona area is incredibly popular for dispersed camping. As such, many campsites are often left filled with trash, human waste, broken glass, and other nuisances. Please always practice Leave No Trace camping and leave your campsite in better shape than you found it in.
- Access: We’ve done our best to describe the road conditions you can expect when heading to each of the areas described in this post. Many of the campsites included in this guide require 4WD and high-clearance to reach them. Additionally, road conditions can deteriorate quickly after heavy rain so avoid traveling on difficult roads after rainfall.
- Water: None of the dispersed camping areas in this guide have a dependable water source. As such, it is important to bring all the water you’ll need, or have a plan for how you’ll get it.
- All of these dispersed campsites are first-come, first-served. Many fill up quickly on summer weekends- you may need to get there on a Thursday and/or arrive early in the morning to secure a site.
Dispersed Camping Near Sedona, Arizona
The following list contains the 11 best dispersed camping areas surrounding Sedona, Arizona.
The Sedona dispersed camping map below gives an overview of each site’s location with a full description included in the following section. Enjoy!
For other nearby dispersed camping guides, check out our other posts:
Schnebly Hill Road
Distance to Sedona: 9 miles (via Schnebly Hill Rd) // 40 miles via I-17 & AZ-179
One of the most popular dispersed camping areas near Sedona is Schnebly Hill Rd. The road connects Sedona with Interstate 17 to the east via a rough and rugged 4WD road. Along the route you’ll find some excellent dispersed camping options, with most of the good sites located closer to I-17.
Access from I-17 is easy, with campsites appearing almost immediately off the highway. If you’re coming from the Sedona side you’ll need to drive quite a ways along the road before reaching the area where camping is permitted. The road on the Sedona side is also much more rugged, so only those with 4WD, high-clearance, and some experience driving rocky roads should come from this way.
Regardless of which side you enter from, the campsites here have beautiful views, are well spaced, and make an excellent free place to spend the night.
Don’t forget to bring water, as there are no sources along the road.
Distance to Sedona: 18 miles
Pumphouse Wash is an designated dispersed camping area located approximately halfway between Flagstaff and Sedona just off Highway 89A. This is an excellent option for dispersed camping as you’ll be able to get a designated site and have great access to Oak Creek Canyon as well as Sedona. The campsites here are organized in four loops and can all be accessed by passenger vehicles.
Although these are designated sites, don’t expect any water or restroom facilities.
To get here, head north from Sedona along 89A before turning east on FR 237. You’ll then see signs for the designated campsites.
Be sure not to set-up camp outside of these areas as you are likely to be ticketed!
If you’re heading towards Flagstaff from Pumphouse Wash, don’t forget to check out our guide to the best dispersed camping near Flagstaff!
Forest Service Road 535
Distance to Sedona: 17 miles
Forest Service Road 535 is located north of Sedona on Highway 89A, opposite of the Pumphouse Wash dispersed camping area. Camping is permitted along the road once off the highway for several miles. For more peace and quiet head a bit further back before setting up camp.
This area is noted for often having a lot of trash and some loud, partying campers, so it is not our first recommendation for dispersed camping near Sedona. If you do opt to camp here, please be sure to be respectful of other campers and pack out all your trash.
This is a dry site, so you’ll need to bring your own water.
Loy Butte Road / Forest Service Road 525
Distance to Sedona: 10 miles
Loy Butte Road (aka FR 525)is one of the most popular and easiest to access dispersed camping areas around Sedona. Located southwest of town, camping is permitted for several miles along this beautiful dirt road as it winds its way through Red Rocks country.
The area is very popular with ATVs and dirt bikes so you can expect a bit of noise, especially the closer you are to the highway. The road starts off very smooth, so the sites you see after turning off are best for RVs and larger trailers. If you’re in a vehicle with decent clearance, head back a ways to find some of the better sites.
Loy Butte Road does not have water or restrooms, so be prepared to be self-sufficient camping here.
If you decide to camp here we highly recommend hiking the Loy Canyon trail as the trailhead is located near the end of the road.
Angel Valley Road
Distance to Sedona: 11 miles
Angel Valley Rd is directly south of Loy Butte Rd on the other side of Highway 89A southwest of Sedona. This is another good dispersed camping option in the area, although we recommend trying Loy Butte Rd first. The campsites here begin approximately 1 mile after turning off 89A, past the Deer Pass trailhead, and are generally flat. However, they tend to be grouped together, so privacy is at a premium.
All in all, Angel Valley Rd presents good dispersed campsites near Sedona, especially if some of the other options in this guide are full.
There is no water or facilities at Angel Valley Rd, so you’ll want to come prepared. The road in can be fairly bumpy but should be navigable for most vehicles.
Forest Service Road 9845B
Distance to Sedona: 9 miles
Forest Service Road 9845B is located close to the popular Loy Butte Road and Angel Valley dispersed camping areas near Sedona. This camping area is known to be a bit quieter than Loy Butte Road, although the road is also much rougher to navigate. You’ll have great access to Red Rock State Park from here as well as all of Sedona’s main attractions.
We recommend you have 4WD or at minimum a high-clearance vehicle to came along FR 9845B given the road conditions.
To get here, head west from Sedona along Highway 89A for approximately 8.5 miles. Turn south off the main highway on the dirt road opposite the Sedona Wetlands Preserve and wastewater treatment plant.
Distance to Sedona: 12 miles
The Coffee Creek dispersed camping area is located along highway 89A southwest of Sedona, about halfway to Cottonwood, AZ. This is a large, open area that can accommodate quite a few campers. Don’t expect any shade here, as this is definitely the desert.
Coffee Creek is hit or miss with crowds, often times you can find some peace and quiet here while other times you’ll have noisy neighbors. Much of that is dependent on the season and whether or not you’re camping on the weekend.
To get here, head south on 89A until Forest Service Rd 9571, just before Page Springs Rd. Campsites appear almost immediately after turning onto FR 9571.
Forest Service Road 618/689
Distance to Sedona: 9 miles
Located just east of where Highway 179 meets Interstate 17 southwest of Sedona is the Forest Service Rd 618 dispersed camping area. The campsites here are well spaced out giving you a bit of privacy from your neighbors. This is a convenient place to camp if you’re interested in exploring Montezuma Castle National Monument, which is just up the road.
The sites here are not much more than a dusty pull off from the main road, but they are easy to access and much less crowded than some of the other sites in and around Sedona. As you might expect, there is no water source in the area so you’ll need to bring everything you need.
Distance to Sedona: 80 miles
Restrooms: Vault toilets
Water: No, but may be able to get water from adjacent creek.
Although a bit of trek from Sedona, the Childs Dispersed Camping Area remains a very popular option in the region. These are designed dispersed campsites situated right along the Verde River and close to Verde Hot Springs. A soak there is highly recommended! These aren’t private site and you should expect many other campers will be close by. For that reason, please keep noise down and take care to pack out all of your trash.
To get here from Sedona take I-17 south to Dugas Rd. Follow the road for ~35 miles to reach the camping area. Note that the last mile or so of the road is pretty rouge. For this reason we recommend 4WD or a high-clearance vehicle.
***Note: The Childs Dispersed Camping Area is currently closed due to the Backbone Fire. Please check the USFS website here for current status***
Distance to Sedona: 19 miles
Restrooms: Vault toilets
Lawrence Crossing is a free USFS designated campground southwest of Sedona. Located right on Wet Beaver Creek this is a good option for those with small set-ups or tents. There is no water at the campground, but there are basic vault toilets as well as fire rings.
The campsites here are all quite close together, so if privacy and seclusion is what you’re after you might want to look for a different campsite. That being said, Lawrence Crossing provides a good free camping option in the Sedona area and its creek-side location is quite pleasant.
Edge of the World (East Pocket)
Distance to Sedona: 39 miles
Edge of the World is a true gem for dispersed camping near Sedona. The drive is long and arduous to get here, but you’ll be rewarded with some of the most spectacular views in the area. And all from a free dispersed campsite! Also known as East Pocket, this dispersed camping area is accessed by either taking FR 535 to FR231, or for those coming from Flagstaff by taking Woody Mountain Road.
Although it is a rough road to get here, there is always someone who made it in a sedan or other low-clearance vehicle. While we would recommend 4WD, it clearly isn’t 100% necessary.
Edge of the World is a popular camping destination in the area, so be sure to arrive early if you’re hoping to claim a spot on the weekend. Those who can will be rewarded with some of the best dispersed camping in the Sedona area!
Have a great trip!
We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan your Sedona dispersed camping trip, and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure!
Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!