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15 Yuma Free Boondocking Locations for Snowbirds (Updated 2022)

Boondocking in Yuma Arizona at Mittry Lake. Is the View worth it? - Episode 6

Known as the “Sunniest City on Earth,” Yuma promises sunshine and warm weather at least 91% of the year. So, we’re looking into Yuma free boondocking.

“What is your next destination?” It’s a question we hear frequently. Every time, we reply, “Wherever we want, weather permitting.”

Jump To Yuma Camping and Boondocking
Jump To Things to Do In and Near Yuma
Jump To Our Top 15 Yuma Free Boondocking Locations and Yuma Hiking Hotspots to Visit

Finding the next parking spot is a necessary component of the full-time RTT lifestyle. When it is too chilly above the regions in the 35th latitude North, we constantly need a place to go. This is greatly influenced by the rig you employ. The Yuma, Arizona, region turned out to be one of our greatest possibilities for Roof Top Tent boondocking.

It is an excellent way of life. We enjoy living off-the-grid full-time and usually have a general notion of where we are going or a target date for getting there. However, after spending a week at Quartzsite, we decided that before our anticipated spring and summer adventure to Alaska, we’d like to spend some time in Texas visiting our various family members.

Along with Yuma, there are many other wonderful locations in the surrounding area of Arizona. The Grand Canyon, Quartzsite, Bullhead City, Flagstaff, Tucson, Phoenix, and Lake Havasu are just a few of them. The high altitudes close to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon could be a touch too cool, but the remainder of the state is fairly boondocking- friendly when the weather is nice.

Yuma Camping and Boondocking

Sleep under the stars while sharing a campsite with local desert nomads to deepen your sense of awe… If you take the time to stay still and listen, avian, reptile, and tiny mammal animals may appear around you. The Imperial Sand Dunes National Recreation Area, Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, and Picacho State Recreation Area all meet the criteria. For information on camping at Imperial Dam Recreation Area, Senator Wash, Squaw Lake, Mittry Lake, and Fortuna Pond, call the BLM’s Yuma Field Office at 928-317-3200.

Try contacting the BLM for information if you are interested in tent camping in the desert or are visiting Yuma with your RV, trailer, or camper. Yuma’s vast outdoors is a terrific area to park it or pitch a tent because it has warm winter temperatures and plenty of sunshine all year round.

There are established campgrounds that provide hookups, showers, mail delivery, WiFi, small stores, and other amenities, as well as primitive, off-grid wilderness camping. Whether you want to be close to the Colorado River or in a town, there are suitable campgrounds on public or private property there. You can explore Yuma’s attractions or stay near your home base; either way, you’ll appreciate the surrounding natural splendor.

Things To Do In And Near Yuma

We stayed for many weeks in several Yuma-area locations and saw a lot of the area. We hope you will appreciate these locations as much as we did.

Yuma has always been of considerable significance to the locals, even before the arrival of the first Europeans.

It was one of the few safe or reliable crossings at the time, situated on the banks of the formerly unpredictable Colorado River.

Originally known as Colorado City, it eventually gained further prominence as tens of thousands of American opportunists traveled via Yuma to California to take advantage of the 1849 gold rush.

Back then, passing travelers could cross the river on a rope ferry.

The city was renamed twice, first to Arizona City and subsequently to Yuma.

Let’s investigate the top activities to do in Yuma, Arizona, which is rich in history and surrounded by environment.

1. Historic Downtown

The night comes to life in Yuma’s historic downtown. The destructive floods of the past mean that most buildings here now only date back to the 1920’s, but with the revitalization of this area, the history lives on.

Discover what the North End has to offer with historic tours, or simply enjoy the shopping, dining and entertainment that can be found.

There are regularly fairs or events on in the area.

2. Yuma Territorial Prison State Historical Park

No longer in operation, Yuma Territorial Prison is now a state historical park with quite the reputation. It was strategically built (by its very own pioneering prisoners) on the banks of the Colorado as an additional safety measure against common jailbreaks of the time.

During 33 years of running, it held 3,069 prisoners, 111 of which died serving their time. The prison cemetery severe as a chilling reminder of life in the Old South West.

Don’t forget to snap your own mugshot before leaving using the original mirror that created a simultaneous front and side profile in one photo.

3. Imperial National Wildlife Refuge

Striking scenery of mountains, wetlands, desert and river combine in this appealing protected area that spills into both Yuma County, Arizona and Imperial County, California.

Despite its place in the Sonoran desert, wetlands actually make up the majority of its habitat, making it a refuge for wildlife and the perfect spot to observe nature. Within the refuge you can enjoy boat trips, fishing, hiking and camping. Wandering the painted desert trail is a must for new comers.

4. Castle Dome Mine Museum & Ghost Town

Where a bustling mining town once reigned, the abandoned city of Castle Dome now lies utterly empty.

Below it’s soils reside over 300 mines, all of which have been explored and artefacts brought up from, in order to fill the museums.

You can make your way through more than 50 buildings, including homes, shops, and a church, each offering their own input to build the history of the town.

5. Imperial Sand Dunes National Recreation Area

20 miles west of Yuma, these incredible sand dunes hold the title of the countries largest area of inland dunes, stretching over 40 miles.

The dunes can be enjoyed by everyone in the low season, but during the off-roading peak season, only off-road vehicles are allowed on the dunes, though you can make a quick photo stop.

This is a haven for dirt biking, quad biking and dune buggy riding. The impressive scenery has also served as the set for several films, such as Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

Our Top 15 Yuma Free Boondocking Locations and Yuma Hiking Hotspots to Visit

1. American Girl Mine

Address
American Girl Mine Road
Winterhaven, California
GPS: 32.826726, -114.822265

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road into this Yuma free boondocking area is gravel and 1 miles from a paved road. The maximum RV length at American Girl Mine is Any. You may stay 14 Days at American Girl Mine.

Amenities:
Fire Ring
Pets Welcome

Best Review:

Easy access from I-8. Decent paved road north from the interstate and the gravel road towards the American Girl Mine was surprisingly good. Several wide open areas for camping for even the largest rigs. Lots of hiking/walking trails available. Yuma is 30 minutes away if you need supplies. Better T-Mobile and AT&T connectivity than we had in Yuma. We’ll be back.

Best Hiking: 

Telegraph Pass Trail

1 Telegraph Pass Hill - Yuma Free Boondocking

Extremely hot! Started at at 7:30 and ended at about 9:15. Bring extra water and electrolytes for sure. The hike starts out moderately, but once you get to the pavement, the height kicks you hard. To stay in fit for bigger objectives, this is a fantastic small conditioning climb. There are several Yuma free camping places close to the Telegraph Pass Trail.

Length: 8.5 km
Elevation gain: 428 m
Route type: Loop

Kid friendly, Hiking, Mountain biking, Walking, Bird watching, Running, Dog friendly, Partially paved, Views, Wildflowers, Rocky, No shade

2. BLM near VFW

Address
7150 S Hwy 95
Yuma, Arizona
GPS: 32.729523, -114.423424
Elevation: 172′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road into this Yuma free free camping area is dirt and <1 miles from a paved road. BLM near VFW is open Year round. There are 30 or more campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is Any. You may stay 14 days at BLM near VFW.

Best Review:

This was a noisy spot to camp. Trains go by every half hour, traffic was loud, and crop dusters take off right next to this place. All that being said… the people here were wonderful. We ended up staying the full 14 days.

Best Hiking: 

None

3. BMGR West – $20 Permit Required

Address
Yuma, Arizona
GPS: 32.62598, -114.40954
Elevation: 417′

Management: Barry M. Goldwater Range West

14-day free camping on Barry M. Goldwater Range West. Free permit required and available online at Luke.isportsman.net. 14-day camping allowed every 28 days. Numerous flat spots just past the entry sign. Well graded gravel road. The road into this Yuma free boondocking area gravel.

Best Review:

Excellent free campsite! The free permit also applies to the BMGR access road 2 miles to the east at Avenue 15E. Just be sure to camp past the BMGR entry sign so you’re not on AZ State land, as it requires a $20 permit, the BMGR permit is free.

Best Hiking:

Barry Goldwater Peak Trail

3 Barry Goldwater Peak - free boondocking

After parking at the goat camp trailhead and searching for the unauthorized trail to the top (where the cell towers are) for a while, we eventually discovered it between mileposts 6 and 5 after hiking to the end of the goat camp trail (about 5.4). There are several Yuma free camping places close to the Barry Goldwater Peak Trail.

Length: 13.4 mi
Elevation gain: 2,896 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Dog friendly, Views, Wildlife, Rocky, Scramble, No shade

You May Also Like: 18 Free Saguaro National Park Boondocking Spots 

4. Fortuna Pond

Address
Yuma, Arizona
GPS: 32.724342, -114.452873
Elevation: 156′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road into this Yuma free camping area dirt and 3.2 miles miles from a paved road. Fortuna Pond is open Year round. There are 30 or more campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is Any. You may stay 14 days at Fortuna Pond.

Best Review:

This spot was nearly trailer-to-trailer in March, everything from cars to Class A. Generators humming, dogs off-leash and literal tons of litter. Endless flies and gnats. Minimal signal on V, TMO, and ATT. The weekend brought ATVs blasting around raising dust and loud music to the mix. Overall not my kind of place, but then I prefer wide-open desert spaces with no one else around. Grain of salt and all that.

I did find a spot in a signed pullout north of the pond where it was quieter. Scrub and reeds were tall enough to make getting clear sky for solar harvest a challenge.

Best Hiking:

Peter Kane Trail

4 Peter Kane Trail

Length: 4.9 mi
Elevation gain: 410 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Bird watching, River, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife

5. Imperial Dam LTVA – Permit Required

Address
Senator Wash Road
Winterhaven, California
GPS: 32.868862, -114.491127
Elevation: 188′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road into this Yuma free boondocking area dirt. Imperial Dam LTVA is open Year-round. There are 30 or more campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is any. You may stay see description at Imperial Dam LTVA.

Amenities:
Drinking Water
Dump Station
Pay Phone
Restrooms

Best Review:

I was reluctant to go the LTVA route because all the pictures on the internet made them look so crowded and I’ve been craving solitude. But…so glad I decided to give Imperial Dam a shot! Everyone here has been so friendly and waves as they pass by, but there’s still been plenty of quiet time. (Actually, it is shockingly quiet here at night.)

Best Hiking:

Muggins Peak Trail

5 Maggins Peak Trail - free camping

I’ve hiked this trail both ways, and it is unquestionably a local treasure. Basic caution will get you through quite fine while allowing you to take in the vistas, such “the window” close to the halfway mark, where a big saguaro cactus also lies on the backside of the left plateau. The aforementioned “ankle-breaker” rocks are not a barrier here. There are several Yuma free camping area choices close to the Muggins Peak Trail.

Length: 5.6 mi
Elevation gain: 669 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Hiking, Running, Views, Wildlife, Rocky, No shade

6. Imperial Sand Dunes RA – Buttercup – Permit Required

Address
6808 Grays Wells Road
Winterhaven, California
GPS: 32.739066, -114.880935
Elevation: 180′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

There are 30 or more campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is Unlimited. You may stay 14 days at Imperial Sand Dunes RA – Buttercup. The road into this Yuma free camping area is dirt.

Amenities:
Restrooms

Best Review:

Camping in the sand is all fun and games until you get stuck! Thankfully our neighbors had a big truck to pull us out. Great location just off the freeway just check the ground before driving on it as some areas are more packed than others. Pit toilets, traffic noise, overhead power lines, OHV noise (but not after dark). BLM land so free for 14 day limit.

Best Hiking:

Fortuna Peak

6 Fortuna Peak

It serves as a memorial trail in my opinion. Unfortunately, someone decided to spray paint their names and the date on the rocks, which I would describe as vandalism. Please ask Melvin and Finn to remove their graffiti if you know who they are. Near a number of Yuma free boondocking area options is the Fortuna Peak Hike.

Length: 6.0 mi
Elevation gain: 1,633 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, Historic site

You May Also Like: 17 Free Canyon de Chelly National Monument Boondocking Spots 

7. Kool Corner

Address
Yuma, Arizona
GPS: 32.802849, -114.49424
Elevation: 182′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road into this Yuma free boondocking area dirt and 0.1 miles from a paved road. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is any. Free, BLM camping north of Yuma. A patch of mostly level open space.

Best Review:

None

Best Hiking:

Legacy Nature Trail

7. Kool Corner - Yuma Free Boondocking

The Yuma Proving Grounds has a nice route. To enter the compound, you must be a member of the military or a veteran. Several Yuma free camping area spots are close to the Legacy Nature Trail.

Length: 1.2 mi
Elevation gain: 55 ft
Route type: Loop

Kid friendly, Hiking, Running, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, No shade

8. Mittry Lake

Address
Yuma, Arizona
GPS: 32.819515, -114.480419

Management: Bureau of Land Management

You may stay 10 days 1 year at Mittry Lake. Mittry Lake Wildlife Area lies in and adjacent to the floodplain of the Colorado River between Laguna and Imperial Dams. Mittry Lake covers approximately 750 acres, with much of the shoreline covered with cattails and bull rush. The road into this Yuma free camping area is dirt.

Amenities:
Boat Ramp
Near Water

Best Review:

We are camped here along the River with lots of campers. Its beautiful here and the people are so nice. The dogs all play. We are in a 37foot class A with a toad. No problems driving in near the boat ramps. I have Good cell service. Its February and a little rainy and windy. 60in to the Day time and 40 or so at night

Best Hiking:

McPhearson Pass OHV

8. Mittry Lake

Nice off-road scenic drive. without any effort, a typical 4X4 car can navigate. You should take particular precaution at a few places because of deep sand, sizable pebbles, or overhanging brush. In close proximity to several Yuma free boondocking area sites is the McPhearson Pass OHV.

Length: 16.3 mi
Elevation gain: 994 ft
Route type: Point to point

Dogs on leash, OHV/Off-road driving, Views, Rocky

9. Phil Swing Park

Address
Imperial Dam, California
GPS: 32.884632, -114.46904
Elevation: 185′

Management: County Park

The road into this Yuma free boondocking area is paved. The maximum RV length at Phil Swing Park is 12′. Free camping on the west side of the Imperial Dam, but only suitable for vans, car campers, and tent campers. Small parking lot with a large grassy area for camping. Picnic tables, trees and upright BBQ grills spread throughout. Vault toilets.

Amenities:
Fire Ring
Near Water
Picnic Tables
Restrooms

Best Review:

None

Best Hiking:

Kofa Mountains

9 Kofa Mtns - free boondocking

Make sure to have lots of gas before beginning the long desert journey. Desert donkeys should be avoided at night. Crosses the YPG range of the US Army. Overall, a stunning, protracted trip through the Kofa Desert. There are several great hiking areas nearby. To reach either one, take U.S. Highway 95 63 miles north of Yuma or 18 miles south of Quartzsite; look for the Palm Canyon/Queen Kofa sign, which denotes the intersection of a dirt road. The Kofa Mountains Trail is near a number of Yuma free camping areas.

Length: 7.9 mi
Elevation gain: 164 ft
Route type: Loop

Scenic driving, Paved, Views

You May Also Like: Top 10 Chiricahua National Monument Boondocking Locations 

10. Picacho Power BLM 14-day

Address
Winterhaven, California
GPS: 32.83796, -114.64039
Elevation: 420′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

Numerous areas of flat desert pavement. Best area is just past powerline on right side. Intermittent 4G cell service throughout the area. Close to water & dump stations in Yuma. Good fishing nearby in canal. From Winterhaven take Picacho Road North to power line. The road into this Yuma free campground is dirt.

Best Review:

Wonderful glorious wide open spaces. Had it to ourselves 11/5 – 11/7. Friendly wildlife. One day saw lots of air traffic and bombing on proving grounds.

Best Hiking:

Castle Dome

10 Castle Dome

Length: 5.4 mi
Elevation gain: 2,047 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Views, Rocky, No shade

The Castle Dome trail is near a number of Yuma free boondocking area options.

11. Pilot Knob 14 day Area

Address
felicity, California
GPS: 32.743561, -114.773483
Elevation: 260′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road into this Yuma free boondocking area iss dirt and 1.2 miles from a paved road. Pilot Knob 14 day Area is open year round. There are 30 or more campsites at this location. You may stay 14 at Pilot Knob 14 day Area.

Best Review:

Found this to be the best of the area – easy access to I-8 and closest to Yuma for shopping and Algodones for teeth. Maybe not as ‘private’ as Olgeby Rd or north on Sidewinder but the 20 minutes you save if you go into town much is well worth a few extra people !! Far enough from the highway and train that you really don’t hear Anything and the access is Very easy. Highly Recommended.

Best Hiking:

Piestewa Peak Summit

11 Piestewa Peak Summit - free camping

Steep ascent that is a little challenging. It was considerably more bearable because it was gloomy when we went in the morning. Observed animals, including birds, squirrels, and several reptiles. Piestewa Peak Summit Trail is near a number of Yuma free camping area sites.

Length: 2.1 mi
Elevation gain: 1,148 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, Scramble, No shade, No dogs

12. Pilot Knob LTVA – Permit Required

Address
Felicity, California
GPS: 32.74168, -114.755905
Elevation: 295′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road into this Yuma free camping area is dirt. Pilot Knob LTVA is open Year-round. There are 30 or more campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is any. You may stay see description at Pilot Knob LTVA.

Best Review:

The area in and around Pilot Knob is rich in both human and natural history. At one time, Patton’s troops trained here in preparation for desert fighting in World War II. A State of California Historic Marker lies on the site of Patton’s camp. The marker is located just north of Interstate 8 on Sidewinder Road. The Fort Yuma Indian Reservation borders public lands near Pilot Knob.

Best Hiking:

Jesters Trail

12 Jesters Trail - free camping

It was a nice climb, but I preferred Telegraph Pass more. Muggins Mountain Pass was my favorite. Before going on this hike, definitely read the reviews. Wear comfortable shoes or you’ll lose your footing a lot! I advise using trekking poles, albeit I just like to use one because it prevented me from slipping multiple times. There is a stretch at the end before the summit that is challenging to navigate! The Jesters Trail is near a number of Yuma free boondocking area options for you to choose from.

Length: 2.8 mi
Elevation gain: 1,174 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Bird watching, Running, Dog friendly, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, Scramble, No shade

12 Free Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Boondocking Locations 

13. Senator Wash South – Permit Required

Address
Senator Washington Road
Winterhaven, California
GPS: 32.904776, -114.487161
Elevation: 262′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The maximum RV length at Senator Wash South (Boat Ramp) is unlimited. You may stay 14 in 28 max at Senator Wash South (Boat Ramp). The road into this Yuma free boondocking area is dirt.

Amenities:
Boat Ramp
Drinking Water
Near Water
Pets Welcome
Restrooms

Best Review:

We brought a pop up trailer to Senator Wash and stayed on the beach on the South Shore. It was big rear, we brought a bunch of inflatable rafts and tubes and hug out in the water most of the day. It did get really crowded on the weekend with day trippers, but it was a fun time. No internet or WiFi, very spotty cell service

Best Hiking:

Big Eye Mine

13 Big Eye Mine - free boondocking

From the parking lot of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, we rode an ATV to the mine. There isn’t much to see besides the Big Eye Mine cabin on the easy climb inside the mine. To prevent the spread of the deadly White-Nose Syndrome that kills bats, all of the caverns, tunnels, and mines have been sealed off. Overall, a wonderful trip with wonderful companions. The Big Eye Mine Trail is near a number of Yuma free camping area sites.

Length: 1.2 mi
Elevation gain: 232 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Views, Wildlife, No shade, Historic site

14. Telegraph BLM

Address
Yuma, Arizona
GPS: 32.66702, -114.36828
Elevation: 446′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

BLM dispersed camping area. Enter from Telegraph Pass N Lot and back to W on power line road about 1/2 mile. BLM area N of road 100 yds or so. Remote and quiet. The road into this Yuma free camping area is dirt.

Best Review:

The road to this area is one lane, and is made of base ball gravel/loose rock.we did it in a Prius and someone else was even further down the road in a Buick sedan. Your bumper might hit some big rocks, but you won’t get stuck anywhere in a small car. It’s very flat out there. Not much vegetation, definitely safe for dogs as there are just a few saguaro cactus, but there are these big red burrs to watch out for, not very sharp by they are there.

Best Hiking:

Telegraph, to Goat Hill to Kiwanis

14 Telegraph, to Goat Hill to Kiwanis

Awesome hike Definitely, in my perspective, moderate. It’s steep on Telegraph, but just for a short distance (.6 mile approximately.) Watch the signage as you cross three highways to continue your journey. Nice descent into the valley, followed by an ascent to Kiwanis. a magnificent, if rocky and treacherous, hike. The Telegraph, to Goat Hill to Kiwanis Trail is near a number of Yuma free boondocking area choices.

Length: 6.8 mi
Elevation gain: 1,633 ft
Route type: Loop

Dogs on leash, Hiking, Bird watching, Running, River, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife

15. Sidewinder Road

Address
Winterhaven, California
GPS: 32.781116, -114.75409

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road into this Yuma free boondocking area is gravel and 1 miles from a paved road. There are 30 or more campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited.

Best Review:

Great spot with lots of room. It is down a dirt road but not too rough. The wind blows quite a bit. The trains lend a different ambiance and I enjoyed watching them. There are other rigs here but spread out. There are other boondocking opportunities down Ogilby Road further but since we were only wanting a night or two we took the closer Sidewinder Road and are happy.

Best Hiking:

Horse Tank Hike

15 Horse Tank Hike - Yuma Free Boondocking

A solid 3.75. Excellent hike with lovely scenery and geographic interest. Since a 4x4 is needed to enter Horse Tanks immediately after leaving King Rd, we walked from there. You can see a few of them by going all the way back. The Horse Tank Hike is near a number of Yuma free camping area spots we looked at.

Length: 0.9 mi
Elevation gain: 88 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Cave, Views, Rocky, Off trail


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