The BEST Kaibab National Forest Free Dispersed Camping

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There are so many reasons to visit Kaibab National Forest. If the stunning vistas, plentiful recreational opportunities, and rugged landscapes weren’t enough, its proximity to Grand Canyon National Park makes it even more appealing.

Dispersed camping in Kaibab National Forest gives you easy proximity to either the North or South Rim and provides a wonderful accommodation option that doesn’t require advance reservations, is totally free, and gets you closer to the incredible wilderness that makes this area special. Even if you’re not planning to visit the Grand Canyon, there are fantastic and scenic dispersed camping areas in Kaibab National Forest that will certainly make for a memorable trip.

In this post, we’ll share our top ten recommended dispersed camping areas in Kaibab National Forest, plus everything you need to know to plan your trip. Let’s get started.

Kaibab National Forest Dispersed Camping Guide

Find Your Next Dispersed Campsite

Learn how to find the best campsite locations BEFORE you head out. No more showing up to crowded sites with all the good spots taken!

Easily identify camping areas
Find free camping on public land
Use offline apps to locate sites
Learn through video tutorials

The Basics

In this section, we’ll cover all of the need-to-know information about dispersed camping in Kaibab National Forest. This includes rules and regulations, what to bring, and how to minimize your impacts on the environment.

When to Dispersed Camp in Kaibab National Forest

April through October are the best months to dispersed camp in Kaibab National Forest, although you should be prepared for inclement weather at any time of year. Thunderstorms are common in the summer months, and high winds are possible any time of year. Daytime temperatures in the summer can get up to 80 or 90 degrees, but nights cool off considerably.

Given that most of Kaibab National Forest is located at higher elevations, you can expect snow from December through March. The hardy types can dispersed camp in Kaibab year-round, although some roads and areas may be closed due to snow. Check the Kaibab National Forest Alerts & Notices page to see current information about weather and closures.

What to Bring

You shouldn’t expect any amenities when dispersed camping in Kaibab National Forest 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 favorite items specifically for Kaibab National Forest dispersed camping:

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This classic piece of gear is perfect for cooking up deluxe campsite dinners.
  • Portable water container – Most of the camping areas included in this guide do not have a potable water source. As such, a portable water container is essential.
  • 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.
  • Portable Toilet and Privacy Tent – Camping in the desert provides wide open views, but not much privacy for doing your business. This set-up is convenient and helps you minimize your impacts on the environment.
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.

Permits, Fees, and Campfires

Dispersed camping is generally allowed throughout Kaibab National Forest, no fees or permits required. There are some areas where camping is not permitted, typically within a mile of developed campgrounds or other recreational sites. Additionally, there are some important rules to follow when dispersed camping in Kaibab National Forest. All guidelines can be found here, and we’ve provided a summary of the key points below:

  • Dispersed camping is limited to 14 days out of every 30-day period.
  • Keep your campsite small.
  • Use existing sites and fire rings when available.
  • Pick a site where vegetation is absent.
  • Do not camp within 1/4 mile of a water source.
  • Check the Motor Vehicle Use Maps to see where vehicles are permitted.
  • Only have a campfire if it is permitted, and always be sure it is completely extinguished.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles – more on that below!

Additionally, given some of the bad fire season’s Arizona and the West have experienced in recent years, it is critical to check current fire restrictions before having a campfire. Check the most recent notices and fire restrictions for Kaibab National Forest before heading out.

We can’t stress this enough as being a responsible forest user is essential to preventing wildfires and preserving our incredible forests!

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 in Kaibab National Forest 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 to 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 permits 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.

Sheer rock walls with green trees in Sycamore Canyon, Kaibab National Forest.
Sycamore Canyon, photo courtesy of Kaibab National Forest.

Dispersed Camping in Kaibab National Forest

The following section features our top 10 dispersed campsites in Kaibab National Forest. This includes campsites near both the south and north entrances to Grand Canyon National Park, as well as our favorite camping area in the Williams Ranger District.

We’ve also created the map below to give you a sense of each campsites’ location.

If you’re looking for other dispersed camping in the region, we recommend starting with our Arizona Dispersed Camping guide. Then, check out some of our other camping guides in area:

Finally, if you’re interested in finding more dispersed campsites in the area, check out our guide to the best dispersed camping apps to help you find your next campsite.

Enjoy!

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.

You’ll learn…

  • 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

Long Jim Loop (South Rim)


Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

Long Jim Loop is a popular dispersed camping area just 1.4 miles from the entrance to Grand Canyon National Park. What these sites may lack in privacy, they make up for in convenience. You can even walk to the Grand Canyon Shuttle Park and Ride from your campsite.

The road is passable for most vehicles and some of the sites can accommodate larger RVs. Given the popularity of Long Jim Loop, plan on arriving early to snag a spot. The town of Tusayan is the southern gateway to the Grand Canyon. Although you can pick up any last minute supplies here, you’ll be better served by stocking up in advance given the high prices in this tourist town.

Forest Service Road 302 (South Rim)


Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

Located just three miles from the South Entrance Station, Forest Service Road 302 offers great dispersed camping near Grand Canyon National Park. Situated on the edge of Tusayan, you’ll enjoy easy access to services in town and even be able to walk to the Grand Canyon shuttle if you’d like.

Those seeking peace and quiet may want to look elsewhere, as this camping area is located near the regional airport. Campers can expect to hear quite a bit of noise from the frequent planes and helicopter tours flying overhead during the daytime hours.

To get here, turn off of Highway 64 on the south end of Tusayan onto FR 302. Continue until campsites start to appear, about a 1/4 mile from the highway. The road is passable by most vehicles.

Forest Service Road 688


Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

This is the most popular dispersed camping area near Grand Canyon National Park. It is located just 10 miles south of Grand Canyon Village. The area features approximately 20 campsites located along a well-graded road. There are plenty of spacious level sites that can accommodate large rigs.

Although there are no services here, you’ll be just a short drive from Grand Canyon Village which has tons of amenities. FR688 gets very crowded during the peak season, so get there early if you want to secure a campsite.

Forest Service Road 306


Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

The Forest Service Road 306 dispersed camping area is located off of Highway 64, opposite from FR688. While the Grand Canyon is the main draw here, this is a lovely place to camp in its own right. It’s also great option if you find that FR 688 is full, or if you’re looking for a slightly quieter experience. The area is nicely forested, providing lots of shade and privacy. Those seeking more solitude should continue further along the road.

The road can be a bit washboard at times, but generally speaking can accommodate most rigs. It can get extremely muddy after periods of heavy rain.

Marble View (North Rim)

Restrooms: No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

The Marble View dispersed camping area is a secluded and spectacular place to dispersed camp near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. To get there, follow a Forest Service roads for over 15 miles before emerging from the forest to a stunning view and campsite.  The area can accommodate around five groups, but given the long drive it is rarely full.

There are no services at Marble View and it’s quite distance from civilization so come prepared and enjoy some of the best dispersed camping in the area.

Although it’s only 17 miles from the North Entrance Station to the Grand Canyon, the drive will take you about 1 hour given the narrow road to get there.

Saddle Mountain Overlook (North Rim)


Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Busy
Map

The Saddle Mountain Overlook dispersed camping area offers some of the best views in the region. Situated on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, this dispersed camping area has room for approximately five campsites. It’s about an hour’s drive from the North Rim Entrance Station.

The road in is made up of large gravel, so you’ll want to take it pretty slow. The spectacular views more than make up for the rugged driving, however. All of the campsites in the area are situated quite close to one another, so don’t expect much in the way of solitude.

This is a remote area with no water or other facilities so you’ll need to come prepared with everything you’ll need.

Crazy Jug Point (North Rim)

Restrooms: No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Light
Map

Reaching this dispersed camping area is certainly not for the faint of heart! The narrow, rugged roads should only be attempted by experienced drivers with high-clearance vehicles. However, those willing to make the journey will be rewarded with spectacular views of Crazy Jug Canyon, Tapeats Amphitheater, Steamboat Mountain and Great Thumb Mesa.

There are also plenty of great dispersed camping opportunities on the forest service roads in the surrounding area, especially FR 271. This National Forest information packet provides a map and descriptions of key attractions in the area. Keep in mind that there is no water anywhere near this campsite, so come prepared with everything you’ll need.

Locust Point/Forest Service Road 294 (North Rim)


Restrooms: 
No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Light
Map

Locust Point offers some of the most spectacular dispersed camping near the Grand Canyon. You’ll have to navigate over 25 miles of dirt roads to get here, but the rewards are well worth it. You’ll find a quiet and rarely visited section of Kaibab National Forest with amazing views looking out over the Grand Canyon. You’ll also be close to the Rainbow Rim Trail, which connects five spectacular viewpoints, including the nearby Locust Point.

Given the very remote location of this area we can’t stress enough how important it is to come prepared. There is no water or facilities in the area, so plan to bring all of the food and water you need. Additionally, given the length of the drive on remote Forest Service Roads it is very important to have a map or GPS and to be prepared should you encounter a flat tire. Preparedness will pay off for this remote camp site!

Jacob Lake (North Rim)

Restrooms: No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

The Jacob Lake area provides lots of great dispersed camping areas close to services and amenities. Free dispersed camping can be found along FR 461 or one of the other spur roads nearby. The Jacob Lake Group Campground and Picnic Site offers drinking water and vault toilets, and showers are available at the privately-run Kaibab Camper Village. There’s also a small grocery store at the campground. It’s important to note that Jacob Lake is pretty much dry, but the area is beautiful nonetheless and offers lots of great hiking opportunities.

The forest roads to reach the camping areas are smooth and should be accessible for most vehicles. Once you pass the Kaibab Camper Village, you’ll start to see sites marked by fire rings on either side of the road. Sites are generally quite level and some are large enough to accommodate larger RVs. Be sure to check the current fire restrictions before heading out.

Garland Prairie Road(FR (Williams Ranger District)

Restrooms: No
Water: 
No
Crowds:
 Moderate
Map

This spacious dispersed camping area is located just fifteen minutes from the town of Williams, where there are plenty of shops and services, and it’s less than an hour from the south entrance to Grand Canyon National Park. Campers can choose from forested sites or open meadows, and there are plenty of pull-through spots that can accommodate larger rigs.

The sites closer to Highway 64 might experience a bit of traffic noise, but it gets quieter as you get further back. This area is quite popular, but there are plenty of sites and there’s typically enough room for everyone. While the road in is usually accessible for all vehicles, it can get seriously muddy after heavy rains.

Have a Great Trip!

Kaibab National Forest is more than just the gateway to the Grand Canyon. Its diverse landscapes, dramatic scenery, and endless recreation opportunities make it a destination in its own right. Dispersed camping is the perfect way to experience this incredible place, and there are tons of amazing campsites just waiting to be discovered. Happy camping!

Download Our FREE Dispersed Camping Cheat Sheet

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

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