Boondocking in NF in White Mountains Arizona- Input needed

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diamond G Ranch

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Aug 19, 2014
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Hi Everyone-

Had a boondocking question that I wasn't really clear on- I love The Alpine/Black River area of Arizona and plan on doing some dry camping up there this coming summer- I have checked out some of the primitive campgrounds in the area which seem pretty nice but they still charge a fee- what are the rules of boondocking in National forests? I understand that some areas have actual maps online showing the free dispersed camping spots within the National forests- does anyone know of any link for this info for the Alpine/blue wilderness area online? I am looking for camping that is more remote and heavily forested along the black river- can anyone suggest an area of exact forest road that would fit what I am looking for? Any help would be appreciated!
 

Lowell

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Aug 15, 2005
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2,221
Location
Tempe, AZ
We have boondocked in the White Mountains quite a bit off some of the roads near Big Lake.  There are quite a few spots where you can pull off the Forest Road into a clearing that has been used for camping. There is no charge for those locations.  Our favorite spot had lots of big Ponderosa pines and Aspen but it was burned over a few years ago by the Bear Wallow fire.

I would suggest you take a drive to the area and travel all the Forest Roads in the area you are thinking about and then select several spots that you might try when you take your RV there. Sometimes we have had to go with our second or third choice as the first ones were already taken.  If you leave earlier in the week, you have a better chance of getting "your spot."
 

AStravelers

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Location
San Antonio, TX
Here is the link to the Apache-Sitgraves National Forest webpage for "disbursed camping" in the NF:  https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/asnf/recreation/camping-cabins/?recid=44617&actid=34

Disbursed Camping is what the National Forests call vehicle camping outside the maintained campgrounds. 

When we look for disbursed camping locations we park our RV in a NF campgound, usually overnight and then take our toad or tow vehicle and drive the dirt and gravel roads looking for a place we want to boondock.
 

Lowell

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Posts
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Location
Tempe, AZ
AStravelers said:
Here is the link to the Apache-Sitgraves National Forest webpage for "disbursed camping" in the NF:  https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/asnf/recreation/camping-cabins/?recid=44617&actid=34

Disbursed Camping is what the National Forests call vehicle camping outside the maintained campgrounds. 

When we look for disbursed camping locations we park our RV in a NF campgound, usually overnight and then take our toad or tow vehicle and drive the dirt and gravel roads looking for a place we want to boondock.

That's a good suggestion.  Either Rainbow or Apache Trout Campgrounds at Big Lake would be a good place for you to camp while you check it all out.
 

AStravelers

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San Antonio, TX
diamond G Ranch said:
WOW....exactly what I was looking for....great suggestions....Thanks!!
You're welcome.  The internet is a great place to find good factual information.  It does take some poking around to find it. 

Also here is a great website with excellent detailed information about every NF campground in the USA including Alaska, you can get an RV into.  https://www.forestcamping.com/

Here is an example from the website using the Apache-Trout CG mentioned in a earlier posting:

CAMPGROUND NAME: Apache Trout

VISIT DATE: 04/20/2009

UPDATE DATE: 6/19/2016

STATE: Arizona

REGION: Southwest

RANGER DISTRICT: Springerville

NEAREST CITY/TOWN: Eagar

RESERVATIONS: No

DIRECTIONS:
There are three routes available for access to the Apache Trout
campground.  Number 1 is paved all the way but steep without turnouts. 
Number 2 is fairly level and paved.  Number 3 is from Alpine, AZ.

1.  From Eagar, AZ, take State Rt. 260 west 2.2 miles to the Big Lake
sign (State Rt. 261).  Turn left onto Rt. 261 and go 18.1 miles to the
Big Lake sign (State Rt. 273).  Turn left onto Rt. 273 and go 2.5 miles
to another Big Lake Campground sign (Forest Rt. 8115).  Turn right and
go 2.3 miles to campground on left.

2.  From Eagar, AZ, take State Rt. 260 west 18 miles to Big Lake sign
(State Rt. 273).  Turn left onto Rt. 273 and go 19.4 miles to Big Lake
Campground sign (Forest Rt. 8115).  Turn right and go 2.3 miles to
campground on left.

3.  In Alpine, AZ, at the intersection of U.S. Highways 191 and 180, take
Hwy 191 north 1.7 miles to a "Big Lake" sign.  Turn left after sign, onto
Forest Rt. 249, and go 16.1 miles to another "Big Lake" sign.  Turn Left
at sign onto Forest Rt. 8115 and go 2.3 miles to campground on left.

GENERAL COMMENTS:
The elevation is 9,100 feet.

The campground is one of five in the Big Lake Recreation Area and the
only campground with full hook-ups.  It has four loops (Aspen, Pine, Oak,
and Fir) above Big Lake. Aspen Loop is the largest loop and has a mix of
sites with hook-ups and no hook-ups.  Pine Loop is small with good shade
and can be reserved by a group.  Oak Loop's sites all have full-hookups. 
Although hookups are not shared there are numerous, side-by-side parking
aprons.  Shade is limited in this loop.  Fir Loop has no hookups and is
available to single family campers if not reserved by a large group. Oak and
Fir loops are adjacent to a large meadow.  None of the campsites are on the
lake but are a short walk across a field to Big Lake.  Ponderosa pine, Douglas
fir, Blue spruce, and Aspen offer ample shade.  A store is located at the lake
with limited groceries, gas, bait, and boat rentals.  Interpretive programs are
provided from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day at the Visitor Center. 
The Recreation Area is known for mountain biking, bird watching and wildlife
viewing.  Firewood is available for a fee.

SEASONS
Open Seasonal: Yes
Open All Year: No

Seasonal Comment:
Open mid-May through October 31 - for all campers
Open mid-May through November 15 - for RV campers

RATE AND MAXIMUM STAY PERMITTED
Rate: $26 per day - no hook-ups
$38 per day - full hook-ups ($25 w/discount applied)

Maximum Stay Permitted (days): 14

CAMPGROUND SITE CONFIGURATION
No. RV Sites: 0
No. Tent Sites: 0
No. Combined Sites (Tent or RV): 123
 
  Total Sites: 123

Tent Pads: No
Open Sites: Yes
Wooded Sites: Yes
Equestrian Camping: No

No. Tables on Sites: 123
No. Grilles on Sites: 123

RV INFORMATION
No. Full Hookups (includes waste): 41
No. Water and Electric Only: 0
No. Water Only: 0
No. Electric Only: 0

No. RV Pull Throughs: 0
Waste Station: Yes
Potable Water at Waste Station: Yes
Average Parking Apron Size: see comments

Comments:
The parking aprons are gravel and will accommodate any
size rig.

FACILITIES
Vaults: No
Flush Toilets: Yes
Hot Showers: Yes
Wheelchair Friendly Toilets: Yes

Public Phone: No
Playground: No
No. Water Spigots (non-site): 14
  No. Threaded: 14
 

Frank B

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 23, 2005
Posts
1,502
Location
Calgary, Alberta
Something else you can have a look at is the app UC Public (Ultimate Campgrounds). It is a $5 app for Android, and is also available for iOS, but I don't know the price there. An excellent resource showing a lot of free campsites in North America. We use it all the time, love the sites that are in the database, and it has saved us a lot of money.
 

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