Camping near Phoenix, Arizona – Tonto National Forest – Coon Bluff Campground & Apache Trail Boondock
In February 2020, I started my first travels around beautiful Arizona after attending Gem & Jam Festival in Tucson, AZ (highly recommended if you’re thinking of going sometime!)
I am not one that likes to pay for camping often, although I will do it if I am in a bind! While attending REI’s February Garage Sale in the Phoenix area, I searched for a place to rest my head for the night at little to no cost. Here is what I found:
Coon Bluff Campground
Luckily, I found this spot on the Saturday after the REI garage sale. It is about 38 minutes outside of the Downtown Phoenix area in Tonto National Forest.
I was STOKED to find this little gem in the afternoon – there were lots of families coming to camp the night as well. Technically, it is not a ‘free’ campground because you need a Tonto daily pass, discovery pass, or Annual America the Beautiful passes. Luckily, I had paid the $80 back during my family road trip from Missouri to California – so worth it! Check out my videos of that road trip on Be An Outsider 🌻 if interested! (PART 2 video below)
You are available to camp there FRIDAY & SATURDAY NIGHT ONLY, but it has bathrooms & lots of space to pick a spot to set up your tent! No water there – so bring your own! But if you forget, there are places such as gas stations/grocery stores only 15 minutes away to get necessities.
Also, there are lots of hiking trails around and the beautiful Salt River in walking distance. See below for my explorations here:
Apache Trail Boondock
This one I discovered from the lovely Campendium – thank you! I’ve included their link which has the coordinates where you can sleep in your car or your tent for free!
I was able to find a spot, put up my tent, & sleep through the night soundly on the Sunday after the REI garage sale weekend here. I show a short clip of my surroundings in the following video on my YouTube channel – Be An Outsider 🌻 below:
Here are also some other links to fellow travelers who have done the same:
Here is also a comprehensive guide to help you find places to car camp or RV camp all over:
Hope this all helps you explore the Arizona desert for cheaper & longer! Happy trails! ✌🏼🏕