NEW

Snowshoeing in Boulder: Our 7 Favorite Trails

Snowshoeing in Boulder, CO this Winter? We’ve compiled a list of our favorite snowshoeing trails to explore in and around the Boulder area.

5 Best Portable Induction Cookers For RVs and Vans

To aid you in your next Microdventure, we have compiled a list of the 5 best portable Induction Cookers for your RV or van.

Our 10 Favorite Family-Friendly Hikes in the Grand Canyon

If you’re considering hiking with your family in the Grand Canyon, here are our 10 favorite family-friendly hiking trails.

What is Car Camping?

Trying to figure out what car camping is and why so many people are doing it? Here we define car camping for you in a simple way.

Car Camping Packing List for Your Microadventure

To aid in getting you set for your next car camping trip, here’s a list of essential and luxury things to pack.

Payson, AZ Free Dispersed Camping Areas

In order to help you narrow down where to camp, here’s a list of our favorite free, dispersed camping spots and areas around Payson, Arizona.

Flagstaff Free Dispersed Camping Map

To help make a decision on where to camp around Flagstaff, AZ, here’s a map of our favorite free, dispersed camping areas and spots.

Our 10 Favorite Hiking Trails in Flagstaff

Looking to go hiking in Flagstaff? Here’s a brief list of our favorite hikes and hiking trails in Flagstaff, Arizona.

A Guide to Camping in Sedona

The famous Red Rock Country city that is Sedona, Arizona. For those who haven’t visited, Sedona is a mecca for Microadventures. With miles of hiking and biking trails, climbing, and towering red sandstone views, you could spend a lifetime exploring Sedona and not see...

Sedona Free Dispersed Camping and Campgrounds Map

Trying to figure out where to camp around Sedona, AZ? We built a map of our favorite established campgrounds and dispersed camping areas.

Our 10 Favorite Hiking Trails in Sedona

With over 200 miles of trails, there’s a lot to choose from in Sedona, Arizona! Here’s a brief list of our favorite hikes in Sedona.

FAQS for Grand Canyon Rim to Rim

We’ve compiled a blog answering some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding the Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon.

Hiking from Crested Butte to Aspen, CO

A brief look into the famous hike from Crested Butte to Aspen, Colorado via the West Maroon Pass.

Havasupai: 3-Day Hiking and Backpacking Itinerary

Get ready for 3 days of waterfalls, canyons, cool nights, and lots of memories using our 3-day backpacking itinerary for Havasupai.

Can You Hike “The Wave” Without A Permit?

Thinking of hiking to “The Wave” without a permit? That could land you in jail with a $1,000-10,000 fine. Don’t even think about it!

Payson, AZ Free Dispersed Camping Areas

Located in the thick of Tonto National Forest and the edge of the Mongolian Rim, Payson is a prime spot in Northeastern Arizona for camping.

Camping in Payson comes with views of dense ponderosa pines, juniper trees, and huge views of Central Arizona from the cliff’s edge of the Mogollon Rim.

With miles of forest service roads and the 450,000-acres of wooded areas in the Tonto National Forest, the free, dispersed camping spots are endless!

In order to help you narrow down where to set up camp for the night, here’s a list of our favorite free, dispersed camping spots and areas around Payson:



Colcord Ridge Dispersed Camping Area

East of Star Valley – 35 miles from Payson

The Colcord Ridge Dispersed Camping Area is not too far from the Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery. There are fifteen camping sites in this area and most of them have a fire pit and a picnic table. There is no water available in this camping area, but there is a vault toilet. You can camp at Colcord Ridge at any time of the year, but the summer months are the best.

It is at that time when you can go down to Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery to do a little fishing. During your stay, you will have the chance to see many animals like deer, black bears, javelinas, elk, and mountain lions.

There is a trail that goes through Canyon Creek to the Fish Hatchery. You will also find many other hiking trails within Tonto National Forest. There are dozens to choose from, so you won’t be at a loss for things to do during your visit.

Little Green Valley Dispersed Camping Area

East of Star Valley – 12 miles from Payson

The Little Green Valley Dispersed Camping Area is right near Hell’s Gate. There are approximately fourteen different campsites and you can easily fit an RV in many of them if you are not tenting. You will find most of the campsites on the northern side of the road, but there are a couple on the southern side.

There are no hookups at this campground or any other amenities, so you will basically need to bring everything you need.

Since this is so close to Hell’s Gate, you must tackle the Hells Gate Trail. The trail is fourteen and a half miles. It is a challenging hike, but you will discover a swimming hole to cool down in if you are there during the summer.

Airplane Flat Dispersed Camping Area

East of Payson – 40 miles

There are approximately twelve different campsites at the Airplane Flat Dispersed Camping Area. It is near the Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery, but there are not too many amenities.

You will basically have access to a vault toilet and nothing else during your stay. You will have a chance to see deer, turkeys, mountain lions, black bears, and elk from your campsite and when you are out hiking the trails.

There are many different hiking trails within the Payson ranger district of Tonto National Forest, so you will have plenty of hiking options to choose from. The Canyon Creek Trail is near this campground and it is ten miles in length.




Upper Canyon Creek Campground

East of Payson – 40 miles

Camp-Tenting-Free-on-Mogollon-Rim-in-Payson-Arizona

You will find the Upper Canyon Creek Campground near the Mogollon Rim, as well as the Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery. There is no water at this campground or any other amenities. You will find that each campsite does have a picnic table and fire pit. There is one campsite that will work well for larger groups, but you will not be guaranteed that it is available since this is a first-come, first-served camping area.

There are quite a few hiking trails to consider when you are staying at this campground. One of the popular ones during the summer is Bell Trail because after three and a half miles you reach Beaver Creek. You can see waterfalls if you decide to do the Horton Creek Trail, while the Kelsey Springs and Dorsey Trails loop together to give you more than seven miles of hiking adventures with views.

FSR 405A Dispersed Camping Area

East of Payson – 40 miles

The FSR 405A Dispersed Camping Area is in Tonto National Forest near the Mogollon Rim. There are no amenities at this camping area, so you will need to pack carefully. You can easily hike down to Bear Flats or to the Tonto Creek. Cows roam the fields near this camping area, so you will want to watch where you are walking. However, it is kind of fun to watch the locals round up the cows.

Flowing Spring Campground

North of Payson – 4 miles

Night-Camp-Tenting-Free-on-Mogollon-Rim-in-Payson-Arizona

There are not really designated campsites in this area north of Payson, but you can pull off and camp. You will find a vault toilet near this camping area, but there are no other amenities. The Verde River is close to the Flowing Spring Campground.

You can fish in the river and most people take advantage of the peace and quiet too. You may want to consider hiking the Monument Peak Loop Trail, Cypress Trail, Boulders North and South Trail, Round Valley Trail, and the Peach Orchard and Loop Trail.




Off of the Barnhardt Trailhead – FSR 419

Near of Rye – 17 miles south of Payson

The dispersed camping area off the Barnhardt Trailhead on FSR 419 is perfect for both tents and RVs. There are quite a few spots to choose from, despite the fact that there are only five fire rings scattered around.

This is quite a scenic area and you can easily get to the Barnhardt Trailhead for a hiking adventure. This hike is between eight and ten miles and you will see a couple of waterfalls along the way. This is one of the best-dispersed camping areas near Payson, due to the stunning sunrises and sunsets.

Conclusion

With so many places to camp for free around Payson, Arizona thanks to the Tonto National Forest, it’s easy to have decision paralysis! Hopefully, the blog of our favorite dispersed camping spots gave you some areas on where to pitch your tent! We’ve picked our spots because of their proximity to Payson, their overall views from camp, and privacy.

So get outside, save some money, and enjoy the views from your free, dispersed camping spot in Payson!

Nick The Rambling Man
Nick The Rambling Man

Nick is the owner and regular content writer for Southwest Microadventures. When he’s not writing, you can find him rock climbing, peak bagging, mountain biking, backpacking, or drinking strong coffee.

Previous

Next

WANT MICROADVENTURES?

Join our club!

Get the latest Microadventures, travel tips, tricks, and more.

Lone-Rock-Beach-Kayaking-Utah

Woohoo! You've joined our club!

WANT MICROADVENTURES?

Join our club!

Get the latest Microadventures, travel tips, tricks, and more.

Lone-Rock-Beach-Kayaking-Utah

Woohoo! You've joined our club!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This