The nearest developed camping to Sedona is northeast of town in Oak Creek Canyon. Located between six and 13 miles from downtown, none of the sites have direct trail access, and bikes are discouraged from riding the road due to heavy traffic. However, the campgrounds are lush and shady beneath cottonwoods and pines, there are swimming holes and many sites set directly on the creek, and it’s a quick drive to many top riding areas in town.
The smallest but closest of the three USFS campgrounds in Oak Creek, Manzanita has intimate, tent-only sites on the banks of the creek. Eleven of 18 sites can be reserved up to six months in advance.
Thirteen miles from downtown, Cave Springs is the best bet for scoring a spot, with 84 campsites including 21 open for advance reservations. It’s also the top choice for vans, RVs, and trailers as there are sites that accommodate vehicles up to 36 feet, though there are no hook-ups. It’s a pretty spot, too, with a leafy canopy beneath red rock cliffs.
Just up the road from Cave Springs, Pine Flat is in a shady stand of ponderosa in the upper reaches of the canyon. Eighteen of 56 sites can be reserved, and there’s space for up to 36-foot campers, though no hookups.
The only forest service campground within city limits, Chavez Crossing offers three huge campsites all aimed at groups between ten and 50 people (with prices to match, starting at $80/night). Cost and size aside, it’s an urban oasis, with creek-side sites set in a grove of Arizona sycamore and cypress. Reservations are mandatory.
For those looking for a more rustic setting, dispersed camping is possible at several locations on Coconino National Forest around town. This is primitive camping, so there are no bathrooms, no water or services, no trash cans or picnic tables, and campfires are not permitted. In order to keep these areas open, please abide by all signage and adhere to strict Leave No Trace practices.
Our favorite spot is around seven miles west of town, along Forest Road 525. A few miles of pedaling from camp will bring you to excellent singletrack at the Boynton Pass area, including the Aerie, Boynton Pass, and Dawa trailheads. Directions: Head west on Highway 89A; turn north (right) on Dry Creek Road; left (west) on Boynton Pass Road; and finally left again at the stop sign. Continue west when Boynton Pass Road turns to dirt, then make another left at the next intersection of Forest Road 525. Camping is available at pull-offs along the road. Forest Road 525 is also accessible from the south via Highway 89A.