Free camping near Bryce Canyon is easy to find if you know where to look.
Just outside of the national park are countless dispersed campsites in Dixie National Forest and on nearby BLM land, many just a half hour or less from the park’s entrance.
Keep reading for my personal list of my top five favorite free dispersed campsites near Bryce Canyon National Park.
Related Post: Our Favorite Free Campsites in Utah
Please always follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping, especially packing out all of your trash, including human waste.
Best Free Campsites Near Bryce Canyon
Skip down to the free campsite you want to know more about:
Or, use our Bryce Canyon dispersed camping map to find a free campsite near you.
My Favorite Free Campsites Near Bryce Canyon
You can’t dispersed camp in Bryce Canyon itself. But there are countless free dispersed campsites just outside the national park. Here are five of my personal favorites.
Tom’s Best Spring Road (Dixie National Forest)
Tom’s Best Spring Road is my go-to for dispersed camping near Bryce Canyon.
Located just north of Highway 12, the first campsites you come across are less than 15 minutes to the entrance to the national park.
Although this part of Dixie National Forest is a maze of dirt forest service roads, almost all of which dispersed camping is allowed off, the easiest way to reach these campsites is to turn north from Highway 12 onto Forest Road 117 (Tom’s Best Spring Road).
You’ll start to see spacious dirt pullouts almost immediately, but I recommend driving in at least a mile or so to escape the highway noise and find something a little more private.
Most of Forest Road 117 is well-maintained gravel with plenty of room for even the biggest RVs and trailers. However, the side roads are much narrower and rougher. These spur roads are passable only to passenger vehicles and the smallest RVs and trailers.
With how beautiful this section of national forest is and just how absurdly close it is to Bryce Canyon, there’s not much to complain about. Just note that dust is a major issue as the area is extremely dry in the summer and there’s a steady hum of daytime traffic.
Red Canyon Area (Dixie National Forest)
The Red Canyon area is another extremely popular spot for free camping near Bryce Canyon.
Just a mile or so west of Tom’s Best Spring Road, these dispersed campsites are located along Forest Road 121 (called Corral Hollow for the first mile).
Although FR 121 winds its way for tens of miles deep into Dixie National Forest, most campers choose to set up camp within the first two miles.
After mile two or three, the already somewhat bumpy road quickly becomes much rougher. It’s best not to continue on after this point unless you’re in a high-clearance vehicle with 4WD, especially if it’s at all wet.
A handful of campsites in the first two miles have room for RVs and trailers. However, I recommend most boondockers opt for Tom’s Best Spring Road instead as the campsites there are larger, much more level, and the roads are better maintained.
During the off season (late fall, winter, and early spring), I believe Forest Road 121 is one of the only forest service roads left open. Others, including Tom’s Best Spring Road, are usually gated to restrict vehicle access.
Casto Canyon Road (BLM Land)
It’s certainly still busy, but you can expect slightly thinner crowds when camping along Casto Canyon Road roughly five miles east of the Red Canyon boondocking area.
Unlike Forest Road 121 and Forest Road 117, the campsites along Casto Canyon Road are located on BLM land rather than in Dixie National Forest.
The best way to reach these campsites (especially if visiting Bryce Canyon is your goal) is to turn north off Highway 12 onto Casto Canyon Road. This road also winds its way through Losee Canyon and is sometimes labeled as such (e.g. on Google Maps).
Most campers should stick to the first couple miles after turning north off Highway 12. These campsites are the most easily accessible and are better suited for RVs and trailers, including big rigs.
That said, the road does continue on for many miles before eventually connecting with Highway 89 near Panguitch. The majority of this land is BLM land and is open for dispersed camping.
Several side roads also have previously-used free campsites, including a few side roads which head west back into Dixie National Forest.
Henrieville Creek (Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument)
Even though this dispersed camping area on Henrieville Creek is little more than a roadside pullout, it’s still a great place to camp for free near Bryce Canyon.
Located just north of Highway 12 in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, these free campsites are just 25 miles from the entrance to the national park.
There’s room for between one and two dozen vehicles here, but you’ll rarely see more than two or three other campers. A series of small loops provides access to the campsites, although the best are down a steep incline near Henrieville Creek itself.
Dispersed camping at Henrieville Creek is best left to passenger vehicles and vans. RVs and trailers should look elsewhere for boondocking. But, all vehicles should use caution when accessing the creekside campsites, especially after it’s rained.
All in all, Henrieville Creek provides a somewhat quieter camping experience than the dispersed campsites closer to Bryce Canyon. It’s also just a short drive to beautiful Kodachrome Basin State Park.
Otter Creek Reservoir (BLM Land)
Escape the Bryce Canyon crowds by camping at Otter Creek Reservoir.
Just an hour north of the national park, dispersed camping is allowed on BLM land on the east side of the reservoir.
The campsites here are large and spacious with plenty of room for RVs and trailers. However, there is very little privacy between campsites, so expect to see and hear your neighbors.
The lake itself is beautiful with wide open views in every direction. Fishing and boating are popular here. Otter Creek Reservoir is also a popular staging area for ATVing, hiking, and horseback riding.
During the summer months, the campsites right next to the lake are often filled up with boondockers. However, much of the surrounding area is also BLM land, so you’ll almost certainly find a spot for the night even if it’s not right on the lake.
Is Dispersed Camping Allowed in Bryce Canyon National Park?
Like almost all national parks, dispersed camping is not allowed in Bryce Canyon.
Once you enter the national park, you must camp only in developed campgrounds or in designated backcountry campsites.
Luckily, as I’ve described above, there’s a ton of dispersed camping available just outside of Bryce Canyon’s borders in nearby national forests and on BLM land.
Although you might see others doing so, please refrain from stealth camping in the national park – it’s not allowed and comes with a hefty fine if you’re caught.
Learn more about dispersed camping in national parks.
Related Post: Dispersed Camping in National Forests 101
Let Us Know If You Have Any Questions!
Dispersed camping is my favorite way to enjoy a visit to Bryce Canyon.
Don’t limit yourself to the two campgrounds within the national park itself – there’s a seemingly endless supply of awesome free campsites waiting on the surrounding public lands.
Although my recommendations above are a great place to start your search, they’re also the most popular and busy. I encourage you to do your own research and explore on your own to find the perfect dispersed campsite off the beaten path.
And, if you still have questions about dispersed camping near Bryce Canyon, please don’t hesitate to shoot me a line.
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