After seeing the dispersed camping, my partner and I knew there must be something better and more secluded. About a 1/4 mile before the dispersed camping there is a national forest access road on the right. You’ll see a forest fire prevention sign at the entrance. 4x4 only no trailers. 3 or 4 dispersed sites. Beautiful hike up 4x4 road. Border patrol active. Close to Arizona’s trail trailhead. Great place to stay and see Patagonia.
Stayed one night in a group site on the left large enough for six campers. There were three others when I stayed and one had a generator running non stop all day and night. This site,and the few other sites I saw, are right next to Harshaw Rd. which is pretty busy with fast moving traffic all day. Fire rings. No water. No hiking trails.
Patagonia has Old West character and Red Mountain Food is a good place to buy groceries. There’s a nice hiking trail out of Patagonia off Blue Haven Rd.
Just a few miles up Harshaw Rd. (just outside of the adorable village of Patagonia), you will find a variety of free camping options with no services, just National Forest land available to both RVers and tent campers. There are streams running throughout the area, but the water simply isn’t drinkable even with filtering and leaves a sticky white mineral residue on everything it touches; thank goodness there is a reverse osmosis filling machine in the village of Patagonia, right in front of the bakery. The backroads in this area are great for hiking or mountain biking, you can choose from relatively flat to crazy steep with amazing views.
The village of Patagonia is colorful and fun, and has a nice market with a great produce selection for its size, a small bakery, a launderette, a gas station, and a few cleverly named restaurants. Also, be sure to check out the Paton Center for Hummingbirds (a birdwatcher’s paradise) -- it’s free! The locals are super friendly.
Note: You will see Border Patrol both hanging out in hidden spots and zooming down the roads through this area, appearing to be in hot pursuit. But we never saw a single “situation” that warranted their presence.