Dispersed camping near Grand Canyon National Park is an otherworldly experience.
But, because dispersed camping isn’t allowed within the national park itself, you’ll need to head to nearby Kaibab National Forest before setting up camp.
Luckily, there are dozens upon dozens of fantastic free dispersed campsites just minutes from the Grand Canyon (near both the South Rim and the North Rim) – some suitable for RVs and trailers of all sizes and others that require high-clearance and 4WD to reach.
Here are my very favorite free dispersed campsites near Grand Canyon National Park to help you plan your next trip.
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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 Grand Canyon
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Or, use our Grand Canyon dispersed camping map to browse the area’s best free campsites.
My Favorite Free Dispersed Campsites Near Grand Canyon
Dispersed camping isn’t allowed within Grand Canyon National Park itself – but there are tons of great free campsites just outside its boundaries. Here are five of my all-time favorites.
Long Jim Loop (South Rim)
Long Jim Loop is a popular place for dispersed camping and boondocking near the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.
Located just outside of the town of Tusayan on Long Jim Loop (the road’s name), there’s a solid mix of campsites here that accommodate tents, camper vans, RVs, and trailers.
In fact, this is one of the better places for boondocking near the Grand Canyon. Most of the campsites are level with plenty of space to turn around. Just watch out for steep drop-offs when turning off the road into a campsite.
Because of the proximity to Tusayan and the convenience into the national park, Long Jim Loop gets very busy. Expect crowds throughout summer. Arrive early in the afternoon to secure a spot for the night, especially on weekends.
Another bonus is that this road is regularly patrolled by the local police as well as national forest rangers. This makes it a safe spot to unhook your trailer or leave behind your tent while exploring the national park during the day without much worry.
Forest Road 302 (South Rim)
Forest Road 302 (in Kaibab National Forest) is another great spot for free dispersed camping near the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
As just one of countless forest roads in the area, use FR 302 as a starting point rather than a be-all and end-all. Don’t be afraid to explore the many side roads. In fact, you’re more likely to find a campsite the farther in you drive.
What’s great about dispersed camping along FR 302 is just how much wider and smoother the road is than others in the area. This is a great place for boondocking in RVs and trailers, even in very big rigs. You’ll almost certainly find a large, level campsite. Plus, there are plenty of spots to turn around.
With that said, I recommend all but the smallest RVs and trailers stick to the first five or so miles of FR 302 (unless you’re very adventurous). Tent campers on the other hand, especially those with high-clearance vehicles, should absolutely drive in farther.
Like I mentioned above, this section of Kaibab National Forest, west of Tusayan and south of Grand Canyon Village, is a maze Forest Service Roads with nearly endless possibilities for dispersed camping.
Coconino Rim Road (South Rim)
Coconino Rim Road is perhaps the closest free camping to the South Rim.
Although none of these campsites have views of the Grand Canyon itself, most are just a 10 to 15 minute drive away from some of the most scenic lookout points, including Moran Point.
Also called Forest Road 310, Coconino Rim Road is most easily accessed by crossing through the national park’s south entrance on Highway 64 and then continuing along Desert View Drive until you reach the turnoff (just after Grandview Point).
You’ll see dispersed campsites almost immediately (look for handmade rock fire rings). Just make sure you actually pass the sign for Kaibab National Forest (just after the first cattle guard) before setting up camp.
Camping along Coconino Rim Road is doable in small to medium RVs and trailers, but it’s best for passenger vehicles and camper vans. My favorite specific campsites are those near the Grandview Lookout Tower.
Saddle Mountain Overlook (North Rim)
In my opinion, Saddle Mountain Overlook is the absolute best place for free dispersed camping near Grand Canyon National Park.
A handful of campsites sit near the rim and boast absolutely mind-blowing views of the canyon far below – but, even those campsites away from the rim are just a short walk to the overlook.
Getting here, however, is a trek. The gravel access road is quite rough, especially early in the season or after heavy rains. With that said, moderate washboarding is about the worst to expect throughout the summer and into early fall (high-clearance is helpful but not required, same goes for 4WD).
Saddle Mountain Overlook is best left to passenger vehicles. Don’t try to take RVs and trailers all the way into the overlook (although people do). Instead, I recommend sticking to the larger campsites within the first couple of miles after turning off Highway 67 before the access road narrows.
Turn off Highway 67 onto Forest Road 611 (which quickly turns into FR 610) just south of the North Rim Country Store. The overlook campsites are a little over 14 miles from here, but you’ll start seeing good campsites almost immediately.
Marble Viewpoint (North Rim)
Marble Viewpoint is another North Rim dispersed campsite that’s well worth the drive.
Like Saddle Mountain Overlook, this free campsite is just over 14 miles down gravel roads after turning off Highway 67. In fact, you follow the same route (following FR 610) for the first 9ish miles before turning off onto FR 219 to reach Marble Viewpoint.
Like FR 610, this access road isn’t terribly rough, aside from moderate washboarding. That said, you should exercise caution in anything but a standard passenger vehicle (I wouldn’t take anything but the smallest RV or trailer here). High-clearance is definitely helpful, but not strictly needed (Subarus and the like should be good to go).
I believe there around a half dozen sites at the end of FR 219 (located at approximately: 36.402541, -112.062378). These are the ones with the best views from the Kaibab Plateau of the Marble Platform and the upper reaches of the Grand Canyon far below.
That said, there are plenty of additional campsites along the way. Even though these don’t have the same stellar views, they’re still quiet, peaceful places to stay the night not far from the overlook.
Is Dispersed Camping Allowed in Grand Canyon National Park?
Unfortunately, dispersed camping isn’t allowed in Grand Canyon National Park.
Instead, head just outside the national park’s borders into the Kaibab National Forest. All five of my favorite dispersed campsites discussed above are located throughout this national forest – and, best of all, they’re completely free!
Both the North Kaibab Ranger District (near the North Rim) and Tusayan Ranger District (near the South Rim) welcome dispersed campers as does the Williams Ranger District (near the town of Williams) about an hour south of Grand Canyon Village.
Check out this seriously helpful Kaibab National Forest dispersed camping guide from the United States Forest Service itself.
And, don’t forget to print or download a Kaibab Motor Vehicle Use Map for the district you plan to visit.
Learn more about dispersed camping in national parks.
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Let Me Know If You Have Questions!
The five free campsites outlined above are my personal favorites near Grand Canyon National Park – but they’re far from your only options.
Just to be clear: there’s a huge abundance of additional dispersed campsites in the surrounding Kaibab National Forest, both near the North Rim and the South Rim, so don’t limit yourself solely to my recommendations above.
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