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Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area – A Hidden Gem for Free Camping in Arizona

Our camping experience at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area in Arizona.

After leaving Patagonia, Arizona, we made our way east toward Bisbee, Arizona. It’s a historic mining town with unique charm, drawing tourists from all over the country.

Unfortunately, our typical boondocking resources turned up no nearby campsites. The closest options were a private farm with less than stellar reviews, a now-defunct (yet still listed) site at Starshine Desert, and the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area (20 miles away).

We chose Whitewater Draw because of the numerous positive reviews from trusted sources.

Here’s our personal experience:

Location: McNeal, Arizona

GPS31.5613, -109.720032

Price: Free, with a three-day limit

Date/Temp: February 24 – 25. Highs in the upper 70s, lows in the mid-30s

Noise: Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area is a fantastic sanctuary for cranes. Every year, from October to February, thousands of cranes migrate here. The birds are loud but not unpleasant. Chirping is audible at all hours of the day and night.

If anyone is running a generator, it will also be heard by all campers.

Wifi/Cell: Our AT&T service was strong and uninterrupted. The T-Mobile hotspot received two bars of 4G – enough to stream Hulu and surf the web at the campsite at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area.

Grocery/Errands: We didn’t explore the town of McNeal. I’m not even sure there is a town to explore. We never saw a gas station, post office, or market. All of our errands were done in Bisbee – 20 miles away.

Dog Friendly: The campsite is semi-dog friendly. Our pup is tormented by wildlife, and there is a lot of it here! She sat by the window watching rabbits and birds – whining in frustration. When we let her play outside, she scratched herself on the massive amount of tumbleweed.

Scenery: The cranes are unique. They fly in organized “V” formations and gather in a nearby pond. Watching them at dusk was the highlight of our time here. On a negative note, the campsites at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area are way too close to each other and are only separated by a vault toilet bathroom.

Entertainment: We drove to Bisbee for an entertaining day of eating and window shopping. It’s an easy 20-mile drive. The cranes at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area are worth viewing, too!

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

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  1. wheelingit says:

    Cheers for the link love. Looks like you guys had an amazing time! Hopefully we’ll get to meet-up down the line.