If you’re looking to spend the winter in southwestern Arizona, you’re going to be paying high prices for monthly rates at most campgrounds. For some people, it’s worth it to enjoy the sunshine and warm temperatures. But for others on a tight budget or who don’t want to fork out the money for overnight stays, hundreds of free campsites throughout Arizona offer beautiful scenery.
You’ll find dozens of dispersed camping locations with free overnight campsites near Yuma in particular. Yuma is one of the most visited cities in the Grand Canyon state, as people flock there to enjoy desert views near Interstate 8.
Let’s take a closer look at seven of the best free campsites near Yuma!
Where Is Yuma, Ariz.?
Located in southwest Arizona, Yuma is right off Interstate 8 and near the Mexican border. Highway 95 will take travelers south into Mexico or north to Quartzite. Yuma is also less than 15 minutes from the California border, just a few exits down Interstate 8. The Colorado River runs north and west of the city.
What Is Yuma Known For?
Yuma is home to about 96,000 residents. Unfortunately, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Yuma has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. The city relies on seasonal agricultural workers, which contributes to the high unemployment. Because of Yuma’s sunny and warm climate, over 175 different types of crops grow here. The city is best known for its lettuce production.
Yuma is also known as the “Sunniest City on Earth” due to garnering 91% of possible daylight hours per year. Of 4,456 possible daylight hours each year, Yuma gets 4,055 hours. This makes it a prime location for snowbirds. Travelers enjoy learning about the history and culture of the area and plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities.
Can You Camp Just Anywhere in Arizona?
Public and federal lands like Bureau of Land Management land are open to camping anytime. These free campsites are located throughout the state, from Coconino National Forest to Coronado National Forest to Tonto National Forest.
In fact, according to The Dyrt magazine, “Roughly 42% of Arizona’s total land mass is composed of public lands, making it an ideal location for boondocking, long-term camping, or a quick and budget-friendly weekend getaway.”
But this doesn’t mean you can camp just anywhere. The land has to be public land. Within Arizona’s boundaries are also numerous tribal lands that aren’t open to the public. As long as you stay overnight on federal land, you can stay up to 14 nights in most locations.
The 7 Best Free Campsites Near Yuma
There are several free campsites near Yuma on Bureau of Land Management land. Always remember to leave no trace and respect the land and other RVers. These campsites offer plenty of room to spread out, so you’ll still feel like you have the place to yourself even if another traveler shows up.
Location: 32.8203, -114.4719
About: Part of the Bureau of Land Management, the Mittry Lake Wildlife Area has dozens of dispersed camping sites off Avenue 7E. You’ll find about 600 acres of water surface and 2,400 acres of marsh or upland here. This makes Mittry Lake Wildlife Area an excellent boating location. Mountains also surround it, so RVers enjoy outdoor recreation and beautiful scenery.
Location: 32.8811, -114.8325
About: If you’re looking for a dispersed camping site with few other RVers, check out the Tumco Historic Townsite. Another location managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the site is just across from the historic old mining town of Tumco. You can learn a bit of history while enjoying stunning sunset views over the mountains.
3. Fortuna Pond
Location: 32.7237, -114.4555
About: You’ll reach the dispersed camping sites about four miles down a dirt road. Fortuna Pond is quite popular but mostly reserved for smaller rigs and tents due to the long stretch of bumpy road leading to it. The scenery here isn’t as beautiful as some other locations on the list, but it offers a free campsite for a night or two near Yuma.
Location: 32.8368, -114.812
About: Located in Winterhaven, Calif., the American Girl Mine Road is easy to find just off Interstate 8. The road is paved leading in, and the Mine Road is a well-maintained gravel road. There is plenty of space to accommodate rigs of any size and numerous RVs. Yuma lies about 30 minutes from here.
Location: 32.6381, -114.1398
About: The Wellton Canal dispersed camping sites are not on Bureau of Land Management land like the previous four free campsites. You need an Arizona State Trust Land Permit to camp here. It’s easily accessible off Interstate 8 and big-rig friendly. There’s so much space here that dozens of RVers could show up and not be near each other.
Location: 32.9693, -114.4975
About: Another dispersed camping location in Winterhaven is Ferguson Lake. This is one of the more remote locations. It’s not easily accessible but offers stunning views and lakeside camping. You must turn into the South Mesa Recreation Site and drive another 7.5 miles to Ferguson Lake.
Location: 32.9384, -114.8672
About: Near Ogilby Road and Indian Pass Road, this dispersed camping location offers stunning 360-degree views and plenty of room to spread out. Like Wellton Canal, dozens of RVers could show up here and still maintain plenty of solitude. It’s big-rig friendly and actually provides some cell phone service.
Are Free Campsites Near Yuma Worth It?
If you’re looking to spend some time in Yuma and don’t want to throw down the big bucks to overnight at a campground, these free campsites offer beautiful scenery for a short stay. The Bureau of Land Management campsites are limited to 14 consecutive nights. However, there are many places to explore and things to do in two weeks.
When will you start adventuring in Yuma?
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