Wouldn’t it be great if you could go camping in Sedona for free?
Well, dispersed camping lets you do exactly that. Head outside of city limits to access nearby public lands for some of the best dispersed camping in Arizona, bar none.
Here’s where to go dispersed camping near Sedona on your next trip.
Related Post: The Best Free Campsites in Arizona
Please always follow the Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping, especially packing out all of your trash, including human waste.
Best Free Campsites Near Sedona
Jump to the free campsite you want to learn more about:
- Loy Butte Road
- Schnebly Hill Road
- Pumphouse Wash
- Angel Valley Road
- Lawrence Crossing
- Edge of the World
- Childs Dispersed Area
Or, use our Sedona dispersed camping map to browse the area’s best free campsites.
Call the Red Rock Ranger District for the latest information on closures and dispersed camping restrictions before your trip: (928) 203-7500
My Favorite Dispersed Camping Near Sedona
Dispersed camping near Sedona looks much different than in years past.
Due to a huge increase in recreational use over the past few years, the Coconino National Forest now restricts dispersed camping in several once popular areas.
At the most heavily-used areas, including the very popular Loy Butte Road (FR 525), campers are now required to stay in designated dispersed campsites only. At others, dispersed camping is now banned altogether.
These changes were spurred not only by overuse, but also by poor stewardship, including irresponsible campsite creation, unattended campfires, poor sanitation practices, overstaying camping stay limits, and more.
Here are my three favorite free campsites near Sedona (with these new changes taken into account).
Loy Butte Road (Coconino National Forest)
* Wood and charcoal campfires are no longer allowed here.
Get ready for quiet nights and beautiful views when camping along Loy Butte Road (Forest Road 525).
Unfortunately, true dispersed camping is no longer allowed here. You’re now required to stay in a designated dispersed campsite, each marked with a small sign, when camping anywhere in the Red Rock Ranger District west of Sedona.
Roughly 200 designated dispersed campsites are spread across eight dispersed camping areas. Five of these (Nolan, Greasy Spoon, Cockscomb, Windmill, and Surprise) are located along Loy Butte Road itself while the other three (Rockview, Javelina, and Angel Valley) are scattered around the nearby area.
Loy Butte Road starts just 10 miles south of Sedona off of State Route 89A. The unpaved road is fairly well-maintained, aside from moderate washboarding, and doesn’t require high-clearance.
In my opinion, all but the smallest RVs and trailers should stick to one of the first two dispersed camping areas (Surprise and Windmill), although I have seen big rigs make it farther in.
All of west Sedona’s designated dispersed campsites are first-come, first-served and will remain free to use for up to 14 days at a time.
Schnebly Hill Road (Coconino National Forest)
Schnebly Hill Road (Forest Road 153) is hands down one of the most beautiful places to camp in Sedona.
The red rock canyon views from Schnebly Hill Vista are nothing short of spectacular. The campsites here are relatively quiet, shaded with pines, and fairly private. Access this area by turning west off I-17 east of Sedona (it can also be accessed by 4WD high-clearance vehicles heading east out of Sedona itself).
Unfortunately, Schnebly Hill Road is very rough. Although the first mile or two (starting at I-17) is accessible to most vehicles (including RVs and trailers), the rest of the road is extremely rocky and rough.
Big rigs and low clearance vehicles should arrive early to snag a spot within the first mile or so. The next few miles (up until about mile six) are much rougher but still manageable in most 2WD vehicles (excluding RVs and vehicles pulling trailers). After about mile six, 4WD and high-clearance pretty much become a necessity.
Schnebly Hill Vista sits at roughly the six-mile mark. It’s one of the most popular points along the road – and for good reason. The views are insane. But you can’t camp at the overlook. In fact, camping is only allowed between I-17 (where you turn onto FR 153) and the viewpoint.
Related Post: My Schnebly Hill Road Dispersed Camping Review
Pumphouse Wash (Coconino National Forest)
Pumphouse Wash is a popular place for dispersed camping just north of Sedona.
Reach this forested area by driving north from Sedona along State Route 89A through Oak Creek Canyon. Continue roughly 2 miles past Oak Creek Vista before turning right onto Forest Road 237.
Dispersed camping starts about a half mile from the turnoff. You must camp in a designated dispersed campsite here. There are four designated dispersed camping areas along Forest Road 237 (each is a large loop sub-road) with roughly 100 free campsites in total.
Going camping in Sedona in the summer? Pumphouse Wash is often a better destination than Loy Butte Road due to its higher elevation and ample shade trees.
Other Free Dispersed Campsites Near Sedona
Loy Butte Road, Schnebly Hill Road, and Pumphouse Wash are my three favorite places to dispersed camp in Sedona, but here are four additional options to choose from.
Angel Valley Road (Coconino National Forest)
* Wood and charcoal campfires are no longer allowed here.
Angel Valley Road (Forest Road 89B) is located opposite Loy Butte Road just across State Route 89A.
As part of the Red Rock Ranger District west of Sedona, dispersed camping along Angel Valley Road is now restricted to two designated dispersed camping areas: Javelina and Angel Valley.
Angel Valley Road is unpaved and often quite rough. RVs and trailers are better off sticking to the campsites in the Javelina area. Most passenger vehicles can access the Angel Valley campsites, although high-clearance and 4WD are helpful.
Lawrence Crossing Campground (Coconino National Forest)
Lawrence Crossing Campground is slightly further from Sedona than the other free campsites outlined above, but it’s still a great option, especially if you’re arriving from the south.
Although it’s not a dispersed camping area, we still wanted to include Lawrence Crossing on this list because it’s free. It’s a small primitive campground with limited amenities.
The handful of campsites are located next to a beautiful creek. Lawrence Crossing is best for tent campers. Look elsewhere for RV or trailer camping.
Edge of the World (Coconino National Forest)
The aptly-named “Edge of the World” might just have the very best views of any free campsite near Sedona or Flagstaff.
The best campsites are located just off Forest Road 231, perched high on the edge of a rim overlooking the beautiful Red Rock Wilderness far below. But there are a ton of other dispersed campsites scattered throughout the area that offer a little more privacy (as the rim-side campsites fill up quickly).
To reach Edge of the World, you must first navigate 23 very slow miles of a somewhat confusing network of rough, unpaved forest service roads, including FR 535, FR 536, FR 231, and Woody Mountain Road.
4WD and high-clearance is very helpful here. Definitely don’t drive all the way to the rim if you’re in an RV or a trailer. RV-friendly campsites are located nearer State Route 89A along FR 535.
Edge of the World is sometimes referred to as “East Pocket” or “End of the World.”
Related Post: My Edge of the World Dispersed Camping Review
Childs Dispersed Camping Area (Coconino National Forest)
Childs is a popular dispersed camping area about 60 miles south of Sedona.
It’s set alongside the Verde River miles upon miles down an unpaved road (Forest Road 502) deep in the Coconino National Forest. Just upstream are the remains of the old Childs Power Plant (from which the camping area gets its name).
In addition to the beauty of the camping area itself, the remains of the Verde Hot Springs Resort, once a bustling luxury resort, are a huge draw. It’s still possible to soak in the hot springs today, although nudity is prohibited.
The road into Childs is very rough, especially the last 6 miles, but the trek is well worth it. High-clearance is all but necessary and 4WD is helpful, especially in wet weather. Don’t take an RV or trailer here.
Sedona Dispersed Camping Rules and Regulations
Please always follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles while dispersed camping near Sedona.
Because of the popularity of dispersed camping in Coconino National Forest near Sedona, many of the above campsites have become overwhelmed with trash and human waste.
It’s extremely important to pack out all of your your trash, including human waste. Don’t bury human waste here – always pack it out.
It’s extremely important to respect our public lands. Mistreating them not only negatively affects the next visitor, but it also leads to more dispersed camping restrictions and even closures.
Related Post: The Best Apps to Find Free Dispersed Campsites
Have Fun Dispersed Camping in Sedona!
Not much beats watching the sun set (or rise!) against the beautiful red rocks in Sedona – especially when you’re relaxing at a free dispersed campsite.
We’re sure you’ll love Loy Butte Road, Schnebly Hill Road, Pumphouse Wash, and our other favorite Sedona dispersed campsites just as much as we do.
Remember, our suggestions aren’t the only dispersed camping options near Sedona and Flagstaff. With a little research and plenty of time to explore, you might just find a gem of a free campsite of your very own.
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