7 Best Places for Free Dispersed Camping in Sedona

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, period.

Here’s where to go dispersed camping in Sedona on your next trip.

See Also: My Favorite Free Campsites in Arizona

Please always follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles (especially packing out all your trash, properly disposing of human waste, respecting campfire bans, and only using previously-used campsites) when dispersed camping near Sedona.

Best Dispersed Campsites Near Sedona

Jump to the dispersed campsite you’re interested in learning more about:

Or, use our Sedona dispersed camping map to browse the area’s best dispersed campsites.

My Favorite Dispersed Campsites Near Sedona

Start your search for the best dispersed camping in Sedona with three of my favorite nearby free campsites.

Loy Butte Road (FR 525, Coconino National Forest)

Get ready for quiet nights and beautiful views when camping along Loy Butte Road (Forest Road 525).

This long meandering unpaved road starts just 10 miles from town. Start by driving west towards Cottonwood along State Route 89A. You’ll reach the turnoff for Loy Butte Road in about 15 minutes.

Dispersed campsites start almost immediately upon turning off the highway. Although these early sites do the job just fine, they’re best left for large RVs and trailers. Drive in at least a few more miles miles for more privacy, even better views, and no highway noise.

You’ll notice pull-offs all along Loy Butte Road, many with handmade rock fire rings. These are the free campsites. The pull offs here consist of a mix of larger gravel loops (mostly early on) and smaller dirt campsites.

Even if the early campsites are crowded and full, you’ll almost certainly find a private site with magical views of the nearby red rocks if you drive in for 4 or 5 miles (or more).

Pro Tips:

Drive in a few miles for the best campsites. Don’t forget to hike Loy Butte and check out the nearby Honanki and Palatki Heritage Sites, ruins of the largest cliff dwellings in Red Rock Country.

What I Like:

  • Close to Sedona
  • Diverse Mix of Campsites
  • Suitable for Large RVs
  • Gorgeous Red Rock Views
  • Strong Cell Service for Most Providers

What I Don’t Like:

  • Can Get Crowded
  • Bumpy Washboard Road
  • Noise from OHV Traffic
  • Very Hot in Summer (with Little Shade)

Who Loy Butte Road is Best for:

Loy Butte Road is great for those who want to camp close to Sedona. Several large gravel loops at the start of the road are perfect for RVs and trailers. But car campers can head further in for much more private tent camping.

How Long You Can Stay:

You can camp at Loy Butte Road for up to 14 days at a time.

For More Info:

Loy Butte Road is part of the Coconino National Forest.

A Red Rock Pass might be required, although I didn’t have one during my last visit.

Call the Red Rock Ranger district for more information: (928) 282-4119

Get Directions to Loy Butte Road

Schnebly Hill Road (FR 153, 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. 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.

Pro Tips:

RVs and trailers should look for camping within the first mile or so of the road. For more privacy, those with 4WD or high-clearance vehicles can venture in for a few more miles. Because of the rough roads, fewer people camp beyond about mile three. Remember that there is no camping at the vista overlook or beyond.

What I Like:

  • Incredible Views
  • Lots of Campsites
  • Easy Access Off I-17
  • Decent Cell Service Near I-17
  • Private(ish) Campsites If You Brave the Rough Road

What I Don’t Like:

  • Lots of Trash
  • Jeep Tours and OHV Traffic
  • Highway Noise for First Mile or So
  • Can Get Very Crowded

Who Schnebly Hill Road is Best for:

The first mile or two is great for boondocking in large RVs and trailers. More private camping opportunities are available further in for those willing to brave rough, rocky roads.

How Long You Can Stay:

You can camp at Schnebly Hill Road for 14 days at a time.

For More Info:

Schnebly Hill Road is part of the Coconino National Forest.

A Red Rock Pass might be required. I’m not 100% sure. I didn’t have one the last time I visited and left without any problems.

Call the Red Rock Ranger district for more information: (928) 282-4119

Get Directions to Schnebly Hill Road

Pumphouse Wash (FR 237, 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.

These designated dispersed campsites each have a small sign marking their location. Handmade rock fire pits are another indicator.

Pumphouse Wash is accessibly by all vehicles. It’s a great primary destination or a backup if nearby developed campgrounds (Cave Springs Campground and Manzanita Campground) are full.

Pro Tips:

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.  

What I Like:

  • Lots of Shade Trees
  • Cooler Temperatures Thanks to Elevation
  • Cozy Forested Atmosphere
  • Well-Maintained Unpaved Road
  • Close to Oak Creek Canyon Swimming Holes

What I Don’t Like:

  • So Much Trash!
  • Lack of Flat, Level Ground for RVs
  • Can Get Very Busy

It’s absolutely imperative you pack out your trash (including toilet paper) – and bury or pack out human waste too! Pumphouse Wash has been a pigsty lately. We don’t want it to close down because of irresponsible campers.

Who Pumphouse Wash is Best for:

Pumphouse Wash is conveniently located between Sedona and Flagstaff. It’s also very close to Oak Cree Canyon, an incredibly beautiful scenic drive with tons of swimming holes, as well as the extremely popular Slide Rock State Park. Large campsites make it great for families and other large groups.

How Long You Can Stay:

You can camp at Pumphouse Wash for up to 14 days at a time.

For More Info:

Pumphouse Wash is part of the Coconino National Forest.

Call the Flagstaff Ranger District for more information: (928) 526-0866

Get Directions to Pumphouse Wash

Other Places for Dispersed Camping 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 (FR 89B, Coconino National Forest)

Angel Valley Road is located opposite Loy Butte Road just across State Route 89A.

Dispersed camping starts about a half mile down the unpaved road. There’s fewer campsites here than Loy Butte Road but it’s still a great option.

The road can be rough, but this is usually limited to moderate washboarding. Many pullouts accommodate RV boondockers, although the first few miles of Loy Butte Road are probably better for those with large rigs.

Learn more about dispersed camping at Angel Valley Road.

Lawrence Crossing Campground (Coconino National Forest)

Lawrence Crossing Campground is slightly further from Sedona than the 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, developed National Forest 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.

Learn more about camping at Lawrence Crossing.

Edge of the World (FR 231, Coconino National Forest)

Edge of the World is arguably one of the most amazing places for dispersed camping in the Sedona and Flagstaff area (see the video above).

But, before you visit, know that the road in is long and rough. As the crow flies, Edge of the World isn’t very far from State Route 89A. But to actually reach the campsite, you must drive 23 very slow miles down Woody Mountain Road.

Although not strictly necessary, 4WD and/or high-clearance is very helpful. I’ve seen low-clearance 2WD vehicles make this drive. I’ve even seen a few small trailers (like the Scamp trailer) make the drive. But I recommend that RVs and trailers avoid this dispersed camping area altogether.

This area is sometimes referred to as East Pocket or End of the World.

Learn more about dispersed camping at Edge of the World.

Childs Dispersed Camping Area (Coconino National Forest)

*Currently Closed Due to the Backbone Fire*

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 deep in the Red Rock District of the Coconino National Forest. Just upstream are the remains of the old Childs Power Plant (from which the camping area gets its name).

The road in is quite rough but the trek is well worth it. 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.

Unlike most dispersed camping in the Coconino National Forest, you’re limited to 5 days at Childs rather than the standard 14 days.

Learn more about dispersed camping at Childs Dispersed Camping Area.

Sedona Dispersed Camping Rules and Regulations

view overlooking Sedona with red rock canyons in the background

Please, please, 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.

This problem has only grown worse during the Covid-19 pandemic with more people (often unfamiliar with camping outside of developed campgrounds) turning to dispersed camping for the first time.

It’s extremely important to pack out your trash, bury or pack out your waste (I like to use the convenient and odor-proof Luggable Loo, a cheap portable camping toilet), follow all campfire regulations, and respect any closed areas. Please don’t overstay the 14-day limit.

It’s extremely important to respect our public lands. Mistreating them not only negatively affects the next visitor, but it can also lead to closures (both temporary and permanent).

Remember that a Red Rock Pass is required for camping in certain parts of the Coconino National Forest.

Here are the rules for dispersed camping on the Coconino National Forest.

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 private, remote dispersed campsite with no one else around!

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.

Don’t forget to check out our guides on how to find free camping near you as well as the best free camping in Arizona to track down even more free campsites in Sedona and the rest Arizona.

If you have more questions, please feel free to shoot me a line: jake@campnado.com

Related Post: My Favorite Apps to Find Free Campsites