Two Great Boondocking Spots in Southern Arizona

Tips for camping in the Sonoran Desert and Cochise County.

Jon & Nadia Bajuelo Jon & Nadia Bajuelo  |  03.04.2019

Boondocking is one of our favorite things to do. We love the serenity and waking up to beautiful views outside our RV windows.

Sitting on our list for a while was Southern Arizona. We’ve boondocked in the Coconino National Forest in Northern Arizona for two years in a row now and it was time to finally give the south a try.

Camping Outside Sonoran Desert National Monument

Just outside the Sonoran Desert National Monument and off of I-8, are some great, all-rig-friendly, boondocking on Bureau of Land Management land (pictured in the featured photo above). You’ll be south of Phoenix and northwest of Tucson.

Directions

Exit off of I-8 on Vekol Valley Road, which becomes a dirt road, and choose a spot. We stayed on the south side of the interstate. Be careful not to run over any of the desert plant life when looking for a spot though.

What to Do Nearby

Of course, there’s the Sonoran Desert National Monument. Or you could drive south to explore Organ Pipe National Monument. Then to the north, you have Tonto National Monument. Also, within striking distance is Saguaro National Park. So many great options for using your parks pass! Plus, this boondocking spot is conveniently close to Maricopa, which is great for groceries and dining out.

A Few Tips

Remember to be flexible when boondocking. We actually had a third boondocking spot lined up when originally planning this trip. We planned to boondock outside of Saguaro National Park on BLM land (W Tucson-Ajo Hwy & S San Joaquin Rd), but this spot was full.

We camped at Gilbert Ray Campground, a developed campground, instead. We were thrilled to find that Gilbert Ray places you right among the Saguaro Cacti. While not the boondocking experience we had planned, the views here were amazing, too!

arizona camping

Boondocking in Cochise County

Nestled in Arizona’s Dragoon Mountains is a stunning woodland area known as Cochise Stronghold. The area, once the home of the Apache Chief, Cochise, is rich in history.

There is a developed campground, however, it’s tight and at the end of a washboard road, so we chose to explore the dispersed camping area. We saw plenty of passenger cars on the road, but you’d definitely want to check weather conditions and avoid driving anything that’s not 4×4 if it has rained within 48 hours.

Directions

Directions to this spot are exactly as Google states. Because the road becomes a National Forest dirt road, this is best for those of you with towables and 4×4 vehicles (like the Revel). Coming off I-10, you’ll take exit 318 which is Dragoon Road. You’ll make a right onto Dragoon Road and continue for 11 miles until you turn right onto Cochise Stronghold Road. After six miles, turn right onto W Ironwood Road. This road will become a dirt road, and it goes all the way to the developed campground. However, it is rather washboarded.

cochise stronghold boondocking

What to Do Nearby

Cochise County is strikingly beautiful and has a little bit of everything. Go for some wine tasting in the numerous vineyards and tasting rooms in Wilcox. Also, be absolutely sure to explore the Chiricahua National Monument. For a more urban experience, check out charming Bisbee. Then, finish exploring the area with a little bit of kitschy fun at Tombstone. Yes, it’s touristy. So, what? It’s fun!

A Few Tips

Make a mini road trip loop out of your time in Cochise County in order to avoid feeling rushed. Mix in Walmart stays and regular campground stays to cut down on driving a bit or make a series of day trips in order to be able to see more of the area.


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Comments

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6 Comments

  1. Eric L. Posted on 03.28.2019

    Aaron,

    We just bought a 2019 Forza, and we are taking it out to remote locations. We’ve had an Apect and a Navion, both were great. We love dispursed camping, and plan to do the same with the Forza. I’ll add solar to help with the batteries. I miss that on the Navion.

  2. Brian Posted on 03.10.2019

    I’ve loved boondocking with my ’06 and ’18 Views in the desert. Stayed many nights in the Ironwood National Forest BLM land near the spots cited in this article. But I observed a lot of late-night high-speed traffic. Later, the local retirees told me about frequent human and drug trafficking activity. So I urge folks to be careful, talk to locals and remember there is safety in numbers.
    Secondarily, realize that the washboarded dirt roads do not get better if you keep going – they usually get worse.

  3. raymond lindsey Posted on 03.09.2019

    thanks.

  4. Mike Posted on 03.09.2019

    I have read where it is a good idea to first drive a car (or preferably your Jeep) to the area you want to take the RV to get a sense of what you are getting into.

  5. linda Posted on 03.09.2019

    We just got home after 2 months in the Southwest. We have a new Navion. The solar panel kept us charged for the 10 days that we were in Quartzite! Love my new MH.

  6. aaron Posted on 03.05.2019

    Hey! That’s my “neck of the woods!” Well, sort of. I’m in Vail Az. Anyway, your site intrigued me. I have a class A and I am nervous as heck about taking it anywhere that isn’t a rv park. I’ve only had it a few months. Not even sure I trust it for road trips yet! These things are so BIG and not like working on a car! Do you worry about breaking down “off road”? Do you typically do your own repairs or how do you deal with that aspect of class a ownership?
    I do a lot of off road camping with my tear drop. But want to get the guts to take the class a to some remote places.
    Thanks for the site!
    Aaron