Free Camping near Grand Canyon National Park

This is a complete blog and video guide to FREE camping in Kaibab National Forest near Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. There are free camping opportunities near the North and East rims – this guide focuses on the South Rim of the Park.

Kaibab NF Sign - Grand Canyon
Kaibab NF Sign – Grand Canyon South Rim

In this guide, you will find maps with directions, updates on road conditions, locations of most campsites, and availability of amenities such as cell coverage, water, and toilets.

About Grand Canyon National Park and Kaibab National Forest

Kaibab National Forest surrounding the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is managed by the North Kaibab Ranger District, while the South Rim Forest Land is managed by the Tusayan Ranger District.

Grand Canyon Kaibab National Forest Camping
Grand Canyon Kaibab National Forest Camping – Click to enlarge

The Tusayan Ranger Station is just north of Tusayanto the east of Highway 64 before the South Rim Entrance – Phone: (928) 638-2443

Dispersed Info Kaibab NF
Dispersed Info Kaibab NF

Maps and Directions

I highly recommend the Avenza Maps App!

Download the Motor Vehicle Use Maps for Tusayan Ranger District.

For directions, use the Interactive map from the National Forest Service.

Camping inside or near Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park has three campgrounds at the South Rim. Mather Campground, Trailer Village Campground, and Desert View Campground (near the East entrance). Visit the official site for more info.

The U.S. Forest Service operates the fee-based Ten-X Campground 2 miles south of Tusayan. No hookups or showers but with pit toilets and water. Go here for information.

There are several private campgrounds along Highway 64.

Video footage of the FREE camping areas

I am working on a series of driving and drone videos to show what it’s like to camp for free near Grand Canyon NP!

Links will be posted as soon as these are available.

Recommended FREE Camping Areas in Kaibab National Forest nearest to Grand Canyon NP

Dispersed camping is allowed on Kaibab Forest land for a period not to exceed 14 days within a 30 consecutive day period. The 30 day period begins when a camper initially occupies a specific location in the forest. The 14-day limit may be reached either through a number of separate visits or through 14 days of continuous overnight occupation during the 30 day period.

After the 14th day of occupation, the camper must leave Kaibab National Forest until the new cycle begins on day 31.

Do stop at the information board at the Ranger Station just north of Tusayan to read the rules and look at the camping maps.

Grand Canyon Recommended Dispersed Camping
Grand Canyon Kaibab NF Recommended Dispersed Camping – Click to enlarge

As shown on the map below, there are five well-known FREE camping areas within an easy drive from Grand Canyon NP South Entrance:

  • Along Forest Road (FR) 328 – many sites close to the NP border better suited for smaller RVs
  • N Long Jim Loop Road – many sites close to Tusayan but with a lack of privacy
  • Along FR302 – many sites close to the east side of town suitable for larger RVs
  • Along FR688 – further south but with large sites far apart. Great for large motorhomes.
  • Along FR306 – several sites to the west of Highway 64
Grand Canyon Dispersed Campinge
Grand Canyon Dispersed Campinge – Click to enlarge

Free Camping along FR328

If you plan to spend a lot of time in Grand Canyon National Park and want to camp as close as you can, then you should consider this area.

Grand Canyon Free Camping in Kaibab NF - Map
Grand Canyon Free Camping in Kaibab NF – Click to enlarge

In the map above, you see the entrance of FR328 to the west of Highway 64 just before the South Entrance. As with all of the camping along Highway 64, you cannot camp within 0.25 miles from the Highway. In this case, the no-camping zone is marked in red on the map. To make it easy, do not camp until you reach Apache Stables on the left!

FR328 Campsites
FR328 Campsites

If you have a large camper it is best to find a site along the main FR328. The road is washboard but fine for all vehicles. Continue all the way to the left-turn on top of the hill (1.7 miles) and beyond.

High-clearance vehicles and vans will find secluded sites in the loop to the left (of FR328 as shown) off FR3280.

About potable water and toilets – as shown on the map there are toilets to the north just before the South Entrance. There are many free water stations at Grand Canyon Village (limited in winter).

Verizon has good LTE service at these campsites.

Kaibab NF Toilets
Kaibab NF Toilets

Free Camping along N Long Jim Loop Drive near Tusayan

The most popular dispersed camping area with easy access to town and Highway 64.

Grand Canyon Free camping - N Long Jim Loop
Grand Canyon Free camping – N Long Jim Loop – Click to enlarge

Try to avoid camping with 0.25 miles then search for a spot on both sides of the road for the next 0.5 miles. You can also see some side roads on the map – try those too.

N Long Jim Loop Campsites
N Long Jim Loop Campsites

As stated, this is a popular area and if you pick a large site someone will probably pull in close to you. For complete privacy, you may want to camp elsewhere or drive up the hill (4WD recommended) shown to the north on the map as a loop..

About potable water and toilets – there are toilets to the north just before the South Entrance. There are many free water stations at Grand Canyon Village (limited in winter).

Verizon has good LTE service at these campsites.

Free Camping along FR302 outside Tusayan

FR302 is one of three Forest Roads recommended by local rangers. There are many sites (mostly to the left) as you drive in. Just look for road tracks.

Grand Canyon Free Camping – FR302 – Click to enlarge

The information board is at 0.3 miles on the left and camping basically starts there! I do not show all the sites on the map but you do not have to travel more than 2 miles to find something.

One can fit most size RVs in there and there is plenty of shade.

Free Camping along FR302 near Grand Canyon
Free Camping along FR302 near Grand Canyon

About potable water and toilets – unless you want to try the town, there are toilets to the north just before the South Entrance. There are many free water stations at Grand Canyon Village (limited in winter).

Verizon has very good LTE service at these campsites.

Free Camping along FR688 and FR306 south of Tusayan

FR688 is perfect if you want absolute privacy and/or want a large site for your rig and toys. Yes, it is a longer drive to the South Rim but you have easy access to Highway 64.

It is recommended by local rangers.

Grand Canyon Free Camping - FR688
Grand Canyon Free Camping – FR688 and FR306 – Click to enlarge

Not all campsites are shown! There are many and you can drive for at least 2 miles (and longer) to find sites.

Free Camping along FR688 near Grand Canyon
Free Camping along FR688 near Grand Canyon
Free Camping along FR688 near Grand Canyon
Free Camping along FR688 near Grand Canyon

I did not feel a need to explore FR306 but it is recommended by local rangers.

About potable water and toilets – unless you want to try the town, there are toilets to the north just before the South Entrance. There are many free water stations at Grand Canyon Village (limited in winter).

Verizon has very good LTE service at these campsites.

Precise Campsite Locations and Recommendations

If you want GPS waypoints and my personal recommendations for free campsites, please consider becoming a Patron (Supporter) of my work for a small monthly contribution!

https://www.patreon.com/letseeamerica

The reasons are:

Many travelers want dispersed camping to remain “secret”. In their opinion, these free locations will become overrun with campers if one discloses too much information.

I disagree! Let me explain.

I understand the visitation impact of COVID-19 on Public Lands. We are told to go outside and enjoy nature as a safer alternative to indoor activities. The result is obvious – there are more folks camping and there is more trash and land damage to deal with.

Popular dispersed camping areas are near capacity on most nights – leading to frustration for full-timers who depend on free camping in order to travel on low budgets.

The truth is – information about dispersed campsites are freely available. There are phone apps showing locations, many websites do the same and Rangers will gladly share tips about where to camp for free in their Districts!

So the issue is not about sharing dispersed campsite locations with the public. It’s happening already.

In my opinion the REAL challenges are:

1. Education – how do we educate the general camping public about the importance of camping etiquette on Public Lands?

2. Spacing – how do we get folks to spread out and explore locations further away from the major access roads and crowds?

3. Amenities – how do we convince the Public Land authorities to provide more toilets, potable water, and trash bins?

My Contribution

I share general information about dispersed camping to the public because I believe it is educational (at the very least it helps to prevent illegal camping and it helps with spacing when folks know where more campsites are located).

To further assist with spacing, I do not share the locations of my favorite campsites or recommendations with the general public. I am trying to prevent people from rushing to the same few free campsites (the very best ones) around the country. This information is only available to my patrons.

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