Tom’s Best Spring Road Dispersed Camping

Tom’s Best Spring Road is my go-to for dispersed camping near Bryce Canyon.

Also known as Forest Road 117, this well-maintained dirt/gravel road winds its way through a beautiful slice of Dixie National Forest just 15 minutes from the entrance to the national park.

Today, I’m going to share my personal experience dispersed camping at Tom’s Best Spring Road to help you decide if it’s worth a stop on your trip (spoiler alert: it definitely is).

Please always follow the Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping, especially packing out all of your trash, including human waste.

Quick Overview

Large dispersed campsite off of Tom's Best Spring Road.

Tom’s Best Spring Road is great for pretty much all campers.

The unpaved road is well-maintained and suitable for RVs and trailers of all sizes. However, very big rigs should exercise caution as some campsites are quite rutted and sandy with limited space to turn around. 

Although the best boondocking spots are within a mile or so of Highway 12, there are a ton more campsites accessible to pretty much all passenger vehicles a little farther in, including substantially more private ones off of the various spur roads. 

The campsites closest to Highway 12 are just 15 minutes from Bryce Canyon. The area is usually filled with lots of other campers and is also regularly patrolled by rangers.

I personally felt quite comfortable leaving my campsite unattended during the day to explore the national park and nearby Kodachrome Basin State Park.

Forest Road 117 is the official name for Tom’s Best Spring Road. On Google Maps the area is currently pinned as “Dixie National Forest Dispersed Camping Area.”

Related Post: Dispersed Camping Near Bryce Canyon National Park

Important Info About Tom’s Best Spring Road

Price: FreeMax Length Stay: 14 Days
Reservations: First-Come, First-ServedSeason: Early Spring to Late Fall
Usage: HeavyElevation: Roughly 8,000 Feet
RVs: All Sizes for First Couple MilesAmenities: None
Cell Signal: 3 to 4 Bars of 4G, Spotty 5G for Verizon, AT&T, and T-MobileNoise: Moderate Road Noise, Including ATVs
Safety: Lots of Other Campers, Regularly Patrolled by RangersWildlife: Occasional Black Bears
Best For: Boondocking in RVs & Trailers, Easy Access to Bryce CanyonNot Good For: Privacy

Tom’s Best Spring Road is part of Dixie National Forest.

Call the Powell Ranger District for more info: (435) 676-9300

Official Map: Powell Ranger District MVUM

GPS: 37.7280197,-112.2485488

My Experience Dispersed Camping on Tom’s Best Spring Road

Another small dispersed campsite in the area.

My last visit to Tom’s Best Spring Road was in late September.

Even though the summer surge of national park visitors was largely over, early fall was still prime time to visit Bryce Canyon and other natural attractions in Southwestern Utah. 

Tom’s Best Spring Road was quite busy, especially during the daytime. But, there was more than enough space for everyone to set up camp at night.

I was able to find a relatively private campsite just off Highway 12 the first night. The only downside to camping here was the highway noise (which did die down around 11:00 pm or so). 

However, the next morning I did move several miles farther down Tom’s Best Spring Road to a quieter, more private campsite on a spur road for the next couple of nights.

Other than the great early fall weather (clear and crisp sunny days and chilly – but not too cold – nights) and the super close proximity to the national park, the biggest highlight of my stay was the scenery. 

It’s absolutely beautiful here with wide open views through meadows with mountain vistas in the backdrop. Clumps of trees dot the landscape providing protection from the elements (including shade from the sun). 

I’ll absolutely be back for a longer stay in the future and wholeheartedly recommend Tom’s Best Spring Road for anyone looking for a dispersed campsite near Bryce Canyon.

Related Post: Guide to Dispersed Camping in National Forests

Pros and Cons of Dispersed Camping Here 

View across meadow from a campsite here.

Here are the things I personally like and dislike about dispersed camping at Tom’s Best Spring Road.

What I Like:

  • Lots of Room – This area is huge. There are a ton of side roads to explore with a seemingly unlimited amount of dispersed campsites. 
  • Close to Bryce – Bryce Canyon National Park is just 15 minutes to an hour away, depending on how close to Highway 12 you set up camp.
  • Well-Maintained Roads – Forest Road 117, especially the initial mile or two, is well-maintained and typically in great condition. Expect minor washboarding at the worst.

What I Don’t Like:

  • Noisy – This is a super popular place to camp. And, that popularity brings a lot of daytime noise, including traffic (vehicles and ATVs), humming generators, and general revelry. 

How to Get to Tom’s Best Spring Road

Getting to Tom’s Best Spring Road is easy.

Look for the sign for Forest Road 117 (Tom’s Best Spring Road) to the north of Highway 12 roughly 6 miles west of the turnoff to Bryce Canyon City and Bryce Canyon National Park.

The turnoff is directly across Highway 12 from the parking lot for Coyote Hollow Trailhead.

Once on Tom’s Best Spring Road, you’ll cross a cattle guard and continue on for about a quarter mile before you come to the first dispersed campsites.

These initial campsites get the job done but are among the dustiest and noisiest in the area. I recommend continuing in for at least a half mile to a mile more. I also suggest exploring the many side roads for more private campsites.

Forest Road 117 itself is almost always in good condition. However, many of the spur roads – and, even, many of the “driveways” into individual campsites – are rarely maintained.

If you’re in an RV, trailer, or low-clearance passenger vehicles, it’s often a good idea to get out on foot to scout side roads and campsite entrances out up close, so you don’t get yourself into a sticky situation. 

Dispersed camping is allowed through the vast majority of Dixie National Forest, so don’t be afraid to drive in for miles and wander around until you find the perfect campsite for your stay.

Other Free Campsites Nearby

Looking down a gravel stretch of Tom's Best Spring Road.

Dixie National Forest is filled to the brim with dispersed campsites. 

Just a mile to the west is Forest Road 121 (Corral Hollow) which winds its way through the beautiful Red Canyon and offers an abundance of dispersed camping opportunities. 

Just a little farther to the west is Casto Canyon Road. Although it’s on BLM land instead of in Dixie National Forest, it makes another great place for dispersed camping. It’s also sometimes called Losee Canyon.

Want More Info?

For the most current information possible, call Dixie National Forest’s Powell Ranger District: (435) 676-9300

Other excellent resources to help plan your trip to Tom’s Best Spring Road include these posts from Working on Exploring and Russ on the Road as well as this YouTube video from Abe and Mel

And, if you still have questions about dispersed camping here, please ask away in the comments below!

Related Post: Dispersed Camping in Utah

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Post written by Jake Heller, the founder of Campnado. Read all Jake's posts. Or reach out to him directly:

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