• Menu

17 Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites & Boondocking Locations

Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locationsx

Why Visit the Agua Fria National Monument? Here’s the answer you need. Agua Fria, which is Spanish for cold water, is one of many national monuments in Arizona. The Monument contains over 5 miles of hiking trails and some beautiful rock formations. A few spots along the trails offer spectacular views of topographic features like pinnacles and hoodoos.

My wife and I visited this area on a day hike at the end of October 2021 and ended up staying for a week. We did not make it from Las Vegas until about 4:30 pm after hiking over 20 miles with loads of elevation gain and loss! During that time, we were unable to explore much more than 2 or 3 miles into the trail system since we had to setup our camp.

The Monument is a large area with trails that meander all over the place. The “trailheads” are just parking lots off the roads, so you can park one vehicle and start from there or park somewhere else and leave another vehicle to hike back to your first car. There is no fee to visit the Monument, so if you have two vehicles along with friends/family, everyone can go separate ways as long as they each have their own transportation home.

Traveling around this area in our 4Runner, I could drive some secondary roads beyond the actual trailhead for about another 5 miles without any problem. After that point, though, I started getting into steeper grades and deep ruts, which would not let me pass even at 2 or 3 mph. I could get very deep into the Monument but feel sure that there are some wonderful camping spots just waiting to be found that we never reached.

I hope you enjoy visiting this place as we now have a new place to camp and explore in the future.

Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locations (4)x

Boondocking Agua Fria National Monument

Technically the entire monument, all 62,000 acres is available to boondock with only one real rule to follow. You must not camp within 400 yards of any cattle pens or watering tanks. The monument is rented out for livestock use to various ranchers. Their are a number of places to visit including, the Montezuma Castle, and Mesa Verde hot springs. For that reason we are including a number of free places to camp that are central to all three places. We do want to caution you that the main roads in Agua Fria are passable by passenger car but the secondary roads are not. The roads are heavily wash boarded also so use best judgement inside the monument.

We also want to again remind you that the America the Beautiful Pass will not only give you a free day pass to every National Park, National Forrest and National Monument for $80 a year and if over 62 only $80 for a lifetime pass. Learn More Here.

Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locations (5)x

Our top 17 Boondock Locations for Agua Fria

1. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locations – 1 Miles: – Agua Fria NM – Bloody Basin Rd

Agua Fria National Monument

Address
Bloody Basin Road
Mayer, Arizona
GPS: 34.232881, -112.021196
Elevation: 3763′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management

Not the best place to camp but not the worst either. It is free dispersed camping with no facilities and the road in from I17 is very rough, lots of hairpin turns, hills, rocks, and very few places to turn around. I would not recommend driving in here without 4 wheel drive. The area is accessible from the other side via Cave Creek Road through Seven Springs but that road is also very rough and hilly. There are some nice areas to camp but basically only tent camping. I made it in and out with my 19′ travel trailer but not without some damage.

2. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Spots – 3 Miles: – Agua Fria National Monument

Address
Badger Springs Road
Mayer, Arizona
GPS: 34.237897, -112.108923
Elevation: 3189′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management

The road in is 4×4. Free Dispersed camping in the Bureau of Land Management Hassayampa District. Reservations are not accepted at this campsite. It is rcommended that you have 4×4 and high clearance to reach this free camping area.

Activities:

Wildlife Viewing

3. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locations – 5 Miles: – Aqua Fria National Monument

Address
Mayer, Arizona
GPS: 34.154575, -112.076424
Elevation: 3587′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Managment (Unofficial)

You may stay 14 days at Aqua Fria National Monument. On I-17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff. Dry camping for 14 days. Free. Vault toilets. 31 miles south of Camp Verde, Exit 256. High desert with large number of flat, dirt places for RV, trailer; tents. Very peaceful if parked away from the interstate; otherwise traffic noise (Jake brakes, etc). GPS is 34.237125,-112.110868

Amenities:

Restrooms

4. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Spots – 6 Miles: – Agua Fria BLM

Address
Mayer, Arizona
GPS: 34.313595, -112.071297
Elevation: 3526′

Management –
Public – Bureau of Land Management (Official)

The road in is 4×4 and 3 miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. You may stay 14 days at Agua Fria BLM. Located in the desert hills near the Agua Fria National Monument, approximately 30 miles north of Phoenix at elevation 3,615 feet. Located east of interstate 17. Continue several miles past the state trust land. An all-wheel or four-wheel drive is recommended during the monsoon season as roads may become nearly impassable. GPS coordinates: (34.304108, -112.082375)

Activities:

OHV
Biking
Wildlife Viewing

5. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locations – 7 Miles: – Crown King Road Boondock

5 Agua Fria National Monument

Address
Cron King Road
Cordes Lakes, Arizona
GPS: 34.296318, -112.138756
Elevation: 3850′

Management – Public – Forest Service (USDA) (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt. The maximum RV length at Crown King Road Boondock is any. You may stay 14 Nights at Crown King Road Boondock. Free, dispersed, desert camping at numerous sites along Crown King Road in the Prescott National Forest. I-17 exit 259 and head west. This dirt road is rumored to be in excellent condition and suitable for all sized rigs. As are the camping locations. I haven’t scouted it yet.. you might want to before committing to take your 50′ rig out there. Sites are at least one miles in and up to five from the interstate.

6. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Spots – 8 Miles: – Bumblebee BLM Horsethief Basin

6 Agua Fria National Monument

Address
Black Canyon City, Arizona
GPS: 34.137554, -112.147808
Elevation: 2723′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management (Official)

The road in is Dirt and 5 miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 14 days at Bumblebee BLM Horsethief Basin. High desert BLM dispersed camping just off I17. Well used OHV area. First two spots on this spur accessible with high clearance, any pull off along this stretch of Rd 59 are fair game past the cattle grate. No facilities. Water and propane in Black Canyon City, at family Dollar and the shell station, respectively. Verizon 4g and Sprint are good here.

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Wildlife Viewing

7. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locations – 12 Miles: – Agua Fria National Monument Badger Springs Rec Area1

Address
Black Canyon City, Arizona
GPS: 34.07609, -112.16223
Elevation: 2077′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management

This is right off Highway 17 in Black Canyon City, AZ. Large gravel area with trails. Can fit many RVs. Several had their slides out and we’re running generators. We also noticed tents in the nearby area. It is Federal Land.

8. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Spots – 12 Miles: – Dollar Store (BCC)

Address
Unknown
Black Canyon City, Arizona
GPS: 34.0718, -112.153801
Elevation: 1972′

Management – Parking Lot – Retail Store

9. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locations – 13 Miles: – Rock Springs Pie and Cafe

Address
35769 S. Old Black Canyon Highway
Black Canyon City, Arizona
GPS: 34.048655, -112.14898
Elevation: 2038′
Get Directions

Private (Official)

Large parking area off I17 north of phoenix at exit 242. Great pies and food. 12 hour free parking and room for 5-6 RV\’s or trucks. Good turnaround area.

The maximum RV length at Rock Springs Pie and Cafe is unlimited. You may stay 12hr at Rock Springs Pie and Cafe.

10. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Spots – 13 Miles: – Salt Flat – CLOSED

Address
Fr 68
Mayer, Arizona
GPS: 34.326216, -111.837588
Elevation: 5089′

Management – Public – Forest Service

Activities:

Wildlife Viewing

11. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locations – 16 Miles: – Mayer Camp Area

11 Agua Fria National Monument

Address
Mayer, Arizona
GPS: 34.37066, -112.27099
Elevation: 4774′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Official)

I was told this is state trust land and although ranchers lease some of it, it is available to the public for camping. There are no amenities, complete boondocking, pack it in, pack it out. It’s on Jefferson Road just past the Mayer cemetery. Dirt road and although a sign recommends 4 wheel drive, the four camp areas are easily accessed with any vehicle. Beyond a mile and a half the road continues but is very rugged, would not recommend towing anything or any large vehicles.

12. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Spots – 16 Miles: – Little Pan Staging and Camping Area

12 Agua Fria National Monument

Address
Table Mesa Road
New River, Arizona
GPS: 34.004028, -112.161278
Elevation: 1929′

Management

The road in is Dirt. There are 30 or more campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 14 days at Little Pan Staging and Camping Area.

The Table Mesa Recreation Area comprises approximately 11,557 acres. The area becomes congested with recreationists because it is easily accessed via Interstate 17 from Phoenix. Hikers, OHV enthusiasts, and campers may not be seen easily by target shooters, so be aware of other recreational activities in the area.

Amenities:

Restrooms

Activities:

OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Wildlife Viewing

13. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locations – 17 Miles: – W. Table Mesa Rd.

Address
Phoenix, Arizona
GPS: 33.985572, -112.149149
Elevation: 1988′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management (Official)

BLM LAND and State trust land. Stayed here in a SUV n Camper. Very BUSY, lots of shooting and heavy OHV usage. Very Dusty. Have not gone further back yet.

14. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Spots – 17 Miles: – North Little Grand Canyon Rd Site 1

Address
North Little Grand Canyon
New River, Arizona
GPS: 33.98958, -112.173981
Elevation: 1890′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management

Free Dispersed camping in the Bureau of Land Management Hassayampa District. First come -> first served. No reservations accepted.

15. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locations – 18 Miles: – Exit 236 Overnight

Address
New River, Arizona
GPS: 33.9761, -112.132421
Elevation: 2146′

Management – Unknown

Large flat area off the interstate 17 that could accommodate most any sized rig

16. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Spots – 20 Miles: – Juniper Dispersed

Address
North Seven Springs Road
Scottsdale, Arizona
GPS: 33.978089, -111.865581
Elevation: 3396′

Management – Public – Forest Service

The maximum RV length at Juniper Dispersed is 16 feet. Free Dispersed camping in the Tonto National Forest’s Cave Creek Ranger District. First come -> first served. No reservations accepted.

17. Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locations – 20 Miles: – Childs Dispersed Site

17 Agua Fria National Monument

Address
Childs Power Rd
Camp Verde, Arizona
GPS: 34.348232, -111.697327
Elevation: 2634′

Management – Public – Forest Service (USDA) (Official)

The road in is Gravel. Childs Dispersed Site is open Year-round. You may stay 5 Nights at Childs Dispersed Site. Free, dispersed camping area along the Verde River. This area is very popular! It sits below the remnants of the old power plant buildings on the edge of the Verde River. A short hike upstream and some wading will get you to the ruins of the Verde Hot Springs, a once famous resort

Activities:

Hiking
Horse Trails
Swimming
Wildlife Viewing

Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locations (3)x

History of the Agua Fria National Monument

Agua Fria National Monument is located in the northeast of Maricopa County, Arizona. The Monument was set aside by President Bill Clinton on June 9, 2000, to protect some of the region’s most significant geological and archaeological sites. It encompasses an area of about 240 square miles (62,000 acres). The national Monument links three mountain ranges: the Black Rock Range, Harquahala Mountains, Verde River mountains. Several rivers are flowing through here, including the Agua Fria River, which comes from Spanish, meaning “cold water.” This river provides an excellent habitat for riparian species, so there are many flora and fauna found in this place.

The earliest evidence of human inhabitation in the area is dated to about 9000 BC, and there is evidence of occupation in the area until 1000 A.D. One of the main attractions in Agua Fria National Monument is Thoms Pools, a series of pools formed by natural dams of travertine. These are ideal habitats for wildlife, so this place provides habitat to many migratory bird species.

Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locations (2)x

Places and Things to Do in Agua Fria National Monument:

Whether you’re a family looking for a day filled with fun or a group trip that requires some extra activities, then I guarantee this National Monument will be able to accommodate your needs. Here are my top places and things to do when visiting Agua Fria National Monument:

1. Explore the Ice Caves

The lava tube is one of the most dangerous parts of this National Monument, and with good reason: Until 2008, when a GPS unit was installed to keep track of it every day, only every second person who tried to find it succeeded.

2. Visit More Than One Place in Under an Hour

The Agua Fria National Monument is relatively small compared to other National Monuments in Arizona. Still, it has many interesting features, including canyons up to 800 feet deep and caves more than 1 mile long. It also contains sites dating back over 10,000 years ago used by early humans exploring the Americas.

3 There are at least 20 Native American Ruins

There are at least 20 Native American ruins in the Agua Fria National Monument. The Pueblo Grande Ruin is an important historical site, occupied from about 500 AD to 1400 AD, and contains artifacts dating back almost 2000 years ago.

4 There are Canyons Rich with Wildlife

The canyons in the Agua Fria National Monument are so rich with wildlife that there have been literal sightings of deer, bears, bobcats, mountain lions, badgers, foxes, coyotes, rabbits, quail, owls, hawks, elk, eagles, vultures, peregrine falcons, lizards scorpions and bighorn sheep.

5 You Can Go Camping at Nightfall

Yes, you can go camping in the Agua Fria National Monument. Some sites are specially designed to accommodate both tents and R.V.s.

Top 5 Trails to Hike at Agua Fria National Monument

Not all of these trails are inside of the National Monument but all are nearby and offer great hiking opportunities but, truth be told all of the Agua Fria National Monument is one great hikers dream spot. Review these, they may be a great day trip away from the campground or you may want to just take off across the open desert.

Great little trail, Big Bang for your buck on this one. Didn’t see the petroglyphs at first – they are on the big rock face by your left shoulder as you approach the river and stand facing the tree.

1. Badger Springs Wash Trail

1. Badger Springs Wash Trail-1 - Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locations

It’s about 1.5 miles to get to Badger Spring, a nice place to stop and rest before heading back out. This is a very popular trail for hikers, so parking can be short or non-existent at times, with a pleasant level walk along the bottom of the wash where you’ll sometimes see wild horses hanging out. There are other interesting formations further ahead, but this hike takes time, so plan on spending 1 hour round trip minimum to go beyond the spring.

The exit to the trailhead is unmarked and is a sharp right turn onto a dirt road off the highway so be on the lookout and be cautions. Had to jump the fence and then walk on an flat yet rocky Jeep road to a windmill and homestead. Beyond this you will see old mining activity and encounter another homestead, but only the foundation. To the left is a path up to a small hill of boulders where there are petroglyphs and great views of the black canyon.

Length: 1.5 mi
Elevation gain: 101 ft
Route type: Out & back

Interactive Map

Dogs on leash
Kid friendly
Camping
Hiking
Horseback riding
Mountain biking
Nature trips
Bird watching
River
Views
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Muddy
Rocky
Scramble
Washed out

1. Badger Springs Wash Trail - Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locations

2. Richinbar Mine and Pueblo Trail

2. Richinbar Mine and Pueblo Trail-1 - Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Locations

A little further down Highway 169 is a nice 2 mile hike. This one is a great day hiking opportunity along Richinbar Mine Road just past mile marker 147. Parking near the trailhead isn’t too bad unless it’s after Labor Day when the crowds are coming in hot. The hike starts across a meadow that’s full of wildflowers during April and May, then up into some pine trees, where you’ll find old mine ruins. This trail is only 0.8 miles round trip, but once you get to this point, it’s an additional 1/4 mile hike uphill to see the Richinbar Pueblo, perched on top of this rocky ledge offering great views down into the valley below.

Length: 2.3 mi
Elevation gain: 118 ft
Route type: Loop

Interactive Map

Kid friendly
Hiking
Nature trips
Walking
Bird watching
Dog friendly
Views
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Rocky

2. Richinbar Mine - Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking Spots

3. Perry Tank Canyon Trail

3. Perry Tank Canyon Trail-1 - Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking

Another good hike along Highway 260 at mile marker 81, where there is an information signboard and a large area to park. The Perry Tank Canyon Trail is a steep hike down into the canyon, then up the other side. The trailhead starts through Sonoran desert vegetation along a wide, smooth dirt road that eventually narrows into a single-track pathway that becomes very steep just before you reach the bottom of this 1.5-mile trail. At the bottom of the hill, there’s Perry Tank which has no water in it during most years, but some puddles or mud holes are found around here with available water if needed by hikers.

Length: 14.6 mi
Elevation gain: 731 ft
Route type: Out & back

Interactive Map

Hiking
OHV/Off-road driving
Dog friendly
River
Views

3. Perry Tank Canyon Trail - Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking

4. Verde Hot Spring Trail

4. Verde Hot Spring Trail-1- Agua Fria National Monument

Verde Hot Spring is a 2.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Strawberry, Arizona that features hot springs and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Drove in from Camp Verde side on a Sunday, it’s a long bumpy washboard drive, only the last maybe 1/8th of a mile before the sandy camp ground is rocky but still not bad. walk to the east of the campground there is a small gate you can walk through to the trail or take the road by the old power plant. look for blue dots on the rocks (someone painted since I was there years ago) for where to turn south and cross the river. if you miss the turn follow the road to the water crossing, cross and turn the direction you came from you can’t miss the springs. Not many people there, some 20 something’s camping but the pools were empty. did meet a rattlesnake on the trail we just gave him a wide berth

Length: 2.5 mi
Elevation gain: 190 ft
Route type: Out & back

Interactive Map

Dogs on leash
Kid friendly
Hiking
Nature trips
Walking
Bird watching
Running
Hot springs
River
Views
Wildflowers
Wildlife

4. Verde Hot Spring Trail - Agua Fria National Monument Free Campsites and Boondocking

5. The Agua Fria Trail

5. The Agua Fria Trail-1

It leads you to a spectacular waterfall. The first five miles of this trail are relatively easy and family-friendly, with mostly flat ground and scenic views of waterfalls along Fisher Valley Creek. It cascades down the mountainside into Little Black Canyon. This section also passes by several abandoned mines that visitors can walk through and explore. After approximately five miles, you’ll arrive at the falls, where hikers can swim in pools beneath them or relax and enjoy the falls. The falls are located at the highest point of the trail, so this is a good place for resting before you head back to your car.

Length: 5.1 mi
Elevation gain: 649 ft
Route type: Out & back

Interactive Map

Hiking
Nature trips
River
Views
Wildflowers
Fee

5. The Agua Fria TrailAgua Fria National Monument Agua Fria National Monument

For complete photos and videos of our trip visit our photos on our page Facebook Page

You May Want to Join Our Facebook Group Boondocking Group on Facebook For More Information

Table of Contents

Our Big Escape