Shari G.
Boone, NC
Joined June 2016
Environmental Educator, Photographer, Traveler, & RV Adventurer. We found Freedom in Can in 2012 and haven't looked back! http://freedominacan.com
No wild horses, but a great campground!

This Nevada State Recreation Area is in a beautiful very remote location, along the Wild Horse reservoir. There are two camping areas with about a dozen sites in each. Each site has a nice picnic table, rain / sunshade, and fire ring…and lots of sun for the solar panel. The bathroom facilities are the fanciest we've ever seen for $15 per night. Can you say, "Custom tiled shower?" Someone did a really nice job. And, the campground is kept emaculate.

Just below the campground is a boat ramp and parking lot and swimming beach area. The lake is great for boating, fishing and paddling. The winds we experienced would make it a great lake for sailing, and sailboarding. There are numerous hikes along forest roads in the area that will get you up into the mountains (and even up to an old gold mine), but not alot of "trail hikes." Mountain biking is a great option along these backroads.

The nearest town with services is Owyhee, gas and small grocery store, about 35 miles to the north. There was no cell service in the campground, but we found it on our hike up the mountain!

Bird watchers paradise, with amazing views to boot!

Just like the next door campground of Coyote Cove, these shoreline campsites lack a lot of charm. But with your eyes constantly drawn to the Ruby Mountain's striking beauty, who needs anything more than the usual picnic table, sunshade, wind block screen, and fire ring. The pit toilets were clean and tidy, but there was no drinking water available at this campground.  

The Jet Ski Beach is a great beach for swimming, launching canoes, kayaks, small fishing boats, or personal watercraft. The boat launch and boat trailer parking lot is in the nearby Coyote Cove campground. The area offers opportunities for water sports of all kinds, hiking & mountain biking along many trails, or just sitting by the shore with a line in the water. Bird life is abundant in this area, with many species stopping along their migration route. We saw Loons, Dowitchers, White Pelicans, Coots and even the shy Hermit Thrush.  

The closest town with services is Spring Creek a short 12 miles away, a dozen more miles northwest is the city of Elko which has all the usual suburban amenities and big box stores and interstate 80 running through the middle of town. We had good mobile service and data throughout the campground. Showers, water and a dump station are available at the developed campground across the lake, though it is only open from Spring until Fall, depending upon weather conditions.

Ruby views will keep you coming back!

Along the south west side of South Fork reservoir, these functional spots carry all the charm of a dirt parking lot, but the views of the Ruby Mountains reflected in the lake will keep you coming back. Each site offers a picnic table, sunshade, wind block screen, and fire ring. The pit toilets were clean and tidy, but there was no drinking water available at this campground.  

The Coyote Cove is a great beach for swimming, and launching canoes and kayaks, or small fishing boats. The boat launch and boat trailer parking lot is on the south side of the campground. The area offers opportunities for water sports of all kinds, hiking & mountain biking along many trails, or just sitting by the shore with a line in the water. Bird life is abundant in this area, with many species stopping along their migration route. We saw Loons, Dowwitchers, White Pelicans, Coots, and even the shy Hermit Thrush.  

The closest town with services is Spring Creek a short 12 miles away, a dozen more miles northwest is the city of Elko which has all the usual suburban amenities. We had good mobile service and data throughout the campground. Showers, water and a dump station are available at the developed campground across the lake, though it is only open from Spring until Fall, depending upon weather conditions.

Up Up Upper Lehman...keep on climbing!

Sitting at about 7750 feet within Great Basin National Park, this small campground offers glorious views of the surrounding mountains. Each site has 1-2 huge picnic tables, fire pit and grill, and many have tent pads. The campground is well-maintained and the pit toilets are kept stocked and immaculately clean. We visited in late April and the water in the campground was not yet turned on for the season (though there is an active stream running through the campground, so you can filter water). The Lehman Caves Visitor Center also has drinking water available.

One issue to note is that most of parking pads are not very level (to help with snow melt) in the upper campground, so it made it quite challenging to level our little camper -- probably the most challenging over the past 6.5 years! But, we got it leveled and had plenty of sun for our solar panel in site 10. Lots of trees between sites offer a good deal of privacy, too.

Because of the big winter in 2019, the scenic road was not yet open, so we walked up it for a few miles to enjoy some long range views of the desert valley (Great Basin) below. The road is an 8% grade, so be ready to expand those lungs at 8000 feet! We also went on a challenging snowshoe hike up the Lehman Creek trail, which starts right from the campground.  The jewel of this park during the off/shoulder season is Lehman Cave, with fun ranger-led tours starting right from the visitor center.

This park is truly in the middle of nowhere, with almost no development (yay!!) close to the entrance. What that means is that you need to come prepared with groceries and supplies as not much is available in the tiny hamlet of Baker, which is about 6 miles from the campground. There is a tiny café by the Visitor Center if you need it, too.

Campsites are first-come, first-served and you can use a credit card or cash to make your payment. Not much service in the park as a whole, but we could get a call out if need be.

Caves, Glacier, and Deserts...Oh My!

Sitting at about 7300 feet within Great Basin National Park, this small campground offers glorious views of the valley below. Each site has a huge picnic table, fire pit and grill, and many have tent pads. The campground is well-maintained and the pit toilets are kept stocked and immaculately clean. We visited in late April and the water in the campground was not yet turned on for the season (though there is an active stream running through the campground, so you can filter water). The Lehman Caves Visitor Center also has drinking water available. Lots of trees between sites offer a good deal of privacy, too.

Because of the big winter in 2019, the scenic road was not yet open, so we walked up it for a few miles to enjoy some long range views of the desert valley (Great Basin) below.  The road is an 8% grade, so be ready to expand those lungs at 8000 feet! We also went on a challenging snowshoe hike up the Lehman Creek trail, which starts right from the upper campground.  The jewel of this park during the off/shoulder season is Lehman Cave, with fun ranger-led tours starting right from the visitor center.

This park is truly in the middle of nowhere, with almost no development (yay!!) close to the entrance. What that means is that you need to come prepared with groceries and supplies as not much is available in the tiny hamlet of Baker, which is about 6 miles from the campground.

Campsites are first-come, first-served and you can use a credit card or cash to make your payment. Note: This lower campground fills up fast during busy weekends because the sites are good and level for RV's.

Superbloom in the BLM: Camping in a Natural Desert Garden

Wildflowers at their peak. a full on superbloom of California poppies amidst cacti greeted us at this BLM spot just southeast of Mt. Graham. Lots of places to pull over for a night or for a week or two along Tanque Road, and almost no road noise since the highway is far enough away. Tanque Road is dirt but was doable for our vintage trailer for the first mile or so, but we've heard it gets sandy and harder to navigate the further in you get.

Well-positioned in between the Coronado National Forest and the Hot Well Dunes area. No services, no water, no toilets, just beautiful open desert. Come prepared with drinking water and please Leave No Trace.

Closest town is Safford, AZ about 30 minutes away, and has all that you need.

Kayak Camp in this Gorgeous Desert Canyon

About 2 miles upriver from the Mormon Flat Dam, the Tonto National Forest maintains 4 official campsites, complete with a covered picnic table and fire pit at each, as well as composting toilets and a great boat dock for larger boats. 

The sites were in a bit of disrepair and the bathroom wasn’t stocked and smelled a bit, but the views and location of this site can’t be beat!  Just come prepared with what you need. And, there was an emergency call button by the bathrooms (something we have never seen in any place we’ve camped?). No drinking water available, so be sure to bring at least 1 gallon per person per day.

Warnings: We found that this site could either feel extremely remote, or a total party scene with music blaring from a boat moored at the dock, depending on who is there and how they got there. Also, the wind can blow strongly up/down this canyon, so check the weather before heading in. 

Keep on the lookout for lots of birds and Big Horned Sheep as you paddle/boat up river to the Horse Mesa Dam area. The dam is on lock down (you won’t actually see it), but the journey upriver is absolutely gorgeous with fascinating geology and beautiful Sonoran Desert cactus!

First-come, first-served, and…FREE!

The River Between Two States

Along this gorgeous stretch of the Colorado River downstream of Hoover Dam, you will find numerous backcountry camping options on both the AZ and NV sides, many with existing fire rings. In addition, you’ll find emerald green waters, hot springs/hot waterfalls, sauna cave, slot canyons and interesting features along the sides of the canyon.   All camping is first-come, first-served and no permit is needed.  Water can be filtered in an emergency, but it is the Colorado River; so we’d recommend bringing 1 gallon of fresh drinking water per person per day. Please Leave No Trace by bringing Wag Bags or other poop removal method, including your toilet paper. 

Weather & River Concerns: 

  • If you are camping in a wash, be sure to keep an eye on the weather as flash flooding is a major concern during the rainy season.  
  • We launched from Willow Beach marina (AZ side) and paddled up stream to the dam and back over 4 days. We had an amazing weather window, but have heard from locals that this place can be VERY windy (25-50mph), making it impossible to travel against the wind. 
  • When the dam releases, it can also make upriver travel quite difficult (not impossible but difficult depending on your boat and paddling skills). Also, the river can rise 4-6 vertical feet when the dam releases water from Lake Mead, so haul your boats at least 50 feet up the washes and don’t camp close to the water or you’ll find yourself floating downstream in the middle of the night.
  • Cell service in the canyon is very limited. We found a bit near the dam, but otherwise it was emergency calls only.

Note: If you’ve never done backcountry kayak camping, hire a guide or go with a group. There are numerous companies taking groups down the river each day.

Nice Blend of Shade & Sun on the Shores of Lake Mead

After 4 glorious days kayak camping along the Black Canyon, we moved our basecamp to Boulder Beach and spent a couple of days getting reorganized to hit the road further north. Since the wind was too strong to get out on the lake, we opted to bike along the path that runs next to the campground.  This gorgeous path is well-utilized by area cycling groups, and they are some of the most courteous and safe cyclists we’ve ever come across. 

Each site has a picnic table, fire ring, and all the sites are paved and level.  Don't normally love paved campgrounds, but the wind is so strong at times that it would be a total dust storm without them. All sites have a nice view of Lake Mead, but there is no water access to the lake from the campground. The bathrooms have running water and are kept clean and well stocked, but there are no showers. Water spigots are scattered throughout the campground and there is a sewage dump for RV’s. Most of the sites are designed for large RV’s, but there were some tent campers there as well.

Closest town is Boulder City, about 16 miles away, and has everything you need. There is strong cell service in the campground, and free wifi.

Tiny Spot, Beautiful Views

This tiny little campground is perched on the side of the road in another of AZ's Sky Islands. Just 3 campsites, not big enough for large RV’s, though Hamlet-sized trailers and camper vans are fine.  

Passable pit toilets available for use, but no drinking water. Each tiny site had a picnic table, fire ring, and bear box. A beautiful creek down the hill from the campground had crystal clear water for filtering and washing up.  Completely FREE and first-come, first-served!

Great hiking around the whole area, complete with snowy peaks in early April and waterfalls. Saw many road cyclists riding up the very steep, winding road, as it is lightly traveled. This sky island s a great place to head in the summer when the desert is too hot to enjoy it.

Closest town with supplies and services is Safford, AZ, about 20 minutes north.

Like Camping on an John Wayne Movie Set

Halfway between Kingman and Bullhead City, on the western side of the pass, is this BLM land that will knock your socks off!  Many places to pull over for a night or for a week or two along the road. No services, no water, no toilets, just beautiful open desert with quintessential AZ mountains. Closest towns with supplies are Kingman and Bullhead City, about 20-30 minutes from each.

Camp Among Ancient Rocks

This place is crazy unbelievably beautiful -- a true jackpot just northeast of Las Vegas. The rock formations are like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.

There are two different camping areas, with most of the sites tucked in among the red rock formations. We got there late in the day and got the last spot during Spring Break week!  Most of the sites are designed for tents or small van/campers, with just a handful of dedicated RV spaces with water/electric at each site for $10 more per night. Each site is equipped with a covered picnic table and firepit/grill, and there are water spigots and bathrooms with toilets/showers scattered throughout the campgrounds.

Be sure to stop by the Visitor Center and check out their film and displays as the geology of this place is quite unique. It was like no other that we’ve seen over the past 6.5 years of full-time, though it’s kind of a combination of many (Death Valley, Red Rocks Canyon, and a bit of Bryce Canyon). Driving the scenic road is great, but get out and hike, hike, hike to really see this place!  The crowds will go to the popular places like the Fire Wave (which is awesome), but some of the other areas are just as jaw dropping and no one is there. We even saw a desert tortoise eating some Beaver Tail Cactus on one of the less popular hikes, which is an extra special wildlife sighting.

The closest town with supplies is Overton, about 12 miles away from the east gate.

Camping is first-come, first-served, with no reservations. Note: if you don’t get lucky and get a spot in the park like we did, there are BLM areas just south and just north of the park itself, but you’ll still have to pay the entrance fee of $10 for each day you come into the park itself.

An Oxymoron: Sonoran Desert Lakefront Camping

Just about 6.5 miles from Roosevelt Dam, along a seriously narrow, winding, and mountainous dirt road, lies a great camping oasis along Apache Lake in the middle of the Superstition Mts.  The road is well-maintained and well graded, but the short drive from the dam to the campground took us about 30 minutes with our little trailer and 4-wheel drive truck. Seriously, not for the faint of heart if you are pulling a trailer.  We saw lots of smaller cars manage it fine.

This medium-sized sized campground offers lovely sites along the water and along the hill in the trees.  For $12 per night, it offers many amenities: nice waterfront sites with picnic table, fire ring, boat ramp, drinking water, plenty of pit toilets (clean given the number of people at the campground that week), and group sites.  There are some easy pull-thru sites for RV's.

Hiking, paddling, boating and cycling opportunities are available right from the campground. We paddled up the Salt River to the dam and back for a fun afternoon adventure.  Bird life abounds in both the lake and river!

Closest town is Globe, about 40 miles away, has grocery stores, Walmart, gas stations, etc. So come prepared with what you need!

First-come, first-served, no reservations.

Note: The campground didn’t have any mobile service available with Verizon.

Nice respite from the Sonoran Desert heat

In the off season, this sweet little national forest campground is a quiet oasis in one of the beautiful “islands of the sky” which are scattered throughout Arizona.  Up at 5000 feet, this place becomes a busy retreat for Tucsonians seeking to escape some of the summertime heat, according to the park ranger we spoke too. It's also a haven for birds!

The campground has designated section for RV’s and tents, though they are same price at just $10 per night.  Many pull-through sites are available for larger RV’s, as well as some back in spots. Each site has a HUGE cement picnic table and fire ring and are a nice size with plenty of space between sites. There are trash cans (though no recycling) throughout the campground, and a water spigot near the very clean pit toilets, thanks to the dedicated and very friendly camp hosts.  The tent sites overlook the Parker Canyon Lake and are quite spacious. There are few tent sites for groups too.

There is a nice boat dock, as well as small store near the water that sells snacks/drinks, bait, and a few camping necessities.  You can rent kayaks, paddle boats, SUPs, sailboats and small motorized fishing boats…or bring your own. There is also a nice and easy trail that follows the lake shore for about 6 miles, accessible to both hikers and mountain bikers.  From the lake trail, you can also access the Arizona Scenic Trail (the southern terminus is about 15 miles south of the lake). We also saw quite a few fisherman out enjoying the lake during mid-week.

The closest grocery stores and gas stations are in Sonoita, about 30 miles away.  Cell coverage is limited here as you are very close to the Mexican border – none in RV campground, just a bit of coverage in the tent campground.

Private and close to the Chiricahuan Nat'l Monument

If the campground at the national monument is full, head up Piney Canyon Rd. and you will find a number of free spots for both tent camping and RV’s just off the main road inside the boundary of the national forest.  Most sites are tree covered, but we found one with an open sunny space for our solar panel. Our site was right next to a very clean flowing stream, which provided not only a nice soundtrack but also a filterable water source.  Most of the sites seemed to have established fire pits, with ours being the monster of all fire pits we’ve ever seen. These are dispersed sites, so no potable water, picnic tables, or toilets are available, so come prepared with what you need to be comfortable.  Also note that the road into the forest is not maintained well and is full of washboards for about a mile or so, and many washes cross this road, so pay close attention to rain in the forecast as you could get stuck on the other side of one of these washes for an indefinite period of time.  

The closest grocery store and gas station is in Willcox, which is about 40 minutes away.  There are also a number of wineries in the area, as this is 1 of the 3 Arizona wine regions.

Note:  There is no cell service anywhere along this road, your best bet for an LTE connection is at the top of the monument’s road (Sugarloaf Mountain or Echo Canyon parking lots) or the guest wifi network at the visitor’s center.

Easy Access to Patagonia

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.

Vintage Camper Heaven!

Stopping at this “campground” is a must if you love vintage campers!  Since we have a vintage canned ham of our own, we didn’t stay the night, but the manager gave us an awesome, very detailed tour.  Think of this as a hotel made up of vintage campers (from Airstreams to canned hams to Spartans), all decked out in the stylings of their individual eras.  There is even a vintage boat and vintage bus that have been transformed into rooms. Each space is very clean and has a functional kitchen and bathroom, as well as an outdoor sitting area.  A common shower house and bathroom is available to guests, and eventually they will have their 1950’s diner up and running (after some renovations). In addition, they have a handful of campsites with electric hook-ups where you can bring your own RV for $35 a night.  If you are tent camping, this is not for you.

One of the coolest things about The Shady Dell is that it is just minutes away from the historic copper mining town of Bisbee, one of the most interesting, funky, eclectic, artsy, liberal, ramshackle places we’ve ever visited in the U.S.  Download a map of the Bisbee 1000 Stair Climb Challenge and take off on your own tour of this old village or hire one of the locals to do it for you. This place is a trip – both back in time and forward in time, all at the same time.

Unexpected oasis after a long drive!

Along the Joshua Tree Highway, US 93, near Wikieup AZ, lies a small and lovely BLM campground.  The well paved road drops right off from the highway and into the river valley below. With less than 20 first-come, first-served sites, this cozy campground is a destination in and of itself. Each site has a covered picnic table and grill/pit, water spigots throughout the campground, and clean bathrooms with running water.

The creek flows through a stunning sandstone canyon and offers the chance to fly-fish, or swim/wade during lower water times.  Boating might be possible during higher water times. We visited during the spring 2019 “super bloom” of desert wildflowers which was a stunning addition to the rugged vistas.  Hiking opportunities through the many washes are nearly limitless, but there are few actual trails near the campground. The BLM has done a great job with interpretation signage, and a small education garden on the desert plants of this area amidst the transition between the Sonoran and Mojave deserts.  

The nearest town is Wikieup which has a gas station but not much in the way of food. Kingman is the closest larger city, about 40 minutes away, with all that you need.

Note: We had a weak mobile signal in the campground and surrounding area.

First to Review
Hot Springs, Dunes, & Views Abound

Many places feel like they are in the middle of nowhere; this one actually is.  A 24 mile drive from Stafford AZ, along a bumpy asphalt road brings you to some lovely desert camping with miles of OHV trails and 2 hot thermal pools for soaking.  For just $3/day you can camp, soak, or ride in this beautiful desert oasis.

There are only around 14 designated sites, but there are many other tucked away spots where you are welcome to set up camp.  Just be careful to stay out of the soft sand, or off the popular OHV trails. We set up just just off the dirt camp road, with a short walk to the pools, and pit toilets, and woke each morning to Gambel Quail and Mourning Doves.  We happened to visit during the 2019 spring “super bloom” and desert wildflowers were everywhere. The sand outside outside our trailer revealed that a bobcat had sniffed us out. The desert and the surrounding area is full of life, you just have to look for it.  

Come prepared to dry camp as there is no other water source than the thermal pools, but the pit toilets were very clean and well stocked by the friendly camp host.  The pools fill each morning once sunlight hits the solar panels which power the pumps. By sunset the pools will begin to drain, so everyday there is a new supply of freshwater in the tubs.

Trail activity was pretty loud and busy during the weekend, but as the workweek began things died down and all was quiet.  We cycled on the road rather than the OHV trails because we didn’t bring orange safety flags, or really want to compete with motorized trail traffic.  There are endless desert hiking opportunities just outside the OHV area.

Note:  Cell service was spotty in the campground, but we were able to make a phone call, but no data.

Gorgeous Hiking & Climbing Opps!

Various Oaks and Alligator Junipers abound at this cute little National Forest campground tucked in the Dragoon Mountains, another of Arizona’s beautiful “Islands in the Sky.”  Named for the late Apache leader, Chief Cochise, this campground sits at the base of a few absolutely gorgeous hiking trails and rock climbing areas.

Each site has a good amount of space but oddly a small amount of space for tents and RV’s longer than 24 feet won’t fit in most of the sites.  There is no privacy in between sites, but each site has good tree coverage (almost too much for our solar suitcase on an extension cord). Each site has a huge cement picnic table, fire ring, and grill and there are a couple composting toilets.  There was no drinking water available at the campground (the website says there is water), but there is a creek you can pull water from for filtering, so come prepared.

Important note:  If there is rain in the forecast, be aware that you may get stuck in this campground for a couple of days, as you have to cross numerous washes on the road to/from the campground. We were there for 3 days before it was safe to pull a small camper across the “death wash” that grew to 6 feet high and 20 feet wide during a 24-hour rain event!