10 Must See Dispersed Camping Near Payson, Arizona

Last Updated on June 12, 2022 by Ted Mosby

Payson is only 90 miles from Phoenix, but it feels like a world away. This tiny community, nestled in the Tonto National Forest, serves as a jumping-off point for Arizona adventures.

Trek the Mogollon Rim, boat on peaceful lakes, and put a tent among the ponderosa pines.

Payson is a great place to camp in Northeastern Arizona since it is nestled in the Tonto National Forest and on the edge of the Mongolian Rim.

Payson camping offers vistas of lush ponderosa pines, juniper trees, and expansive views of Central Arizona from the Mogollon Rim’s cliff’s edge.

The Tonto National Forest comprises half a million acres of woodlands and kilometers of state forest roads, so there are plenty of free, dispersed camping spaces!

dispersed camping near payson

Here’s a selection of our best free, dispersed camping near Payson region to help you decide where to spend the night.

What are the Best Dispersed Camping Near Payson AZ?

1. Airplane Flat Dispersed Camping Area

The Airplane Flat Dispersed Camping Area has around eleven separate campsites. The Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery is nearby, although there aren’t many facilities.

During your stay, you will be provided with access to a vault toilet only. From your campground and while trekking the trails, you’ll have the opportunity to witness deer, turkeys, mountain lions, black bears, and elk.

There are numerous hiking paths to select from within the Payson ranger area of the Tonto National Forest.

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The Canyon Creek Trail is ten miles long and is located near this campground.

2. FSR 405A Dispersed Camping Area

This Dispersed Camping Area is located adjacent to the Mogollon Rim in Tonto National Forest. Because this camping spot lacks amenities, you’ll need to pack carefully. I

t’s a short hike down to Bear Flats or Tonto Creek.

Cows graze the pastures near this camping location, so keep an eye on your surroundings.

It is, nevertheless, entertaining to see the natives herd up the cows.

3. FSR 419 Dispersed Camping Area

Tents and RVs alike will enjoy the dispersed camping location along FSR 419 near the Barnhardt Trailhead.

Despite the fact that there are just five fire rings dispersed around, there are plenty of areas to select from.

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This is a beautiful region, and the Barnhardt Trailhead is conveniently accessible for a hike.

This hike will take you between nine and eleven miles and will take you past a handful of waterfalls.

Due to the magnificent sunrises and sunsets, this is one of the best dispersed camping places near Payson.

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Then Grab this easy-to-read illustrated eBook. This eBook will cut out all the confusion and give you straightforward information so that you can make an informed decision and you can save $$$$ and time with the information mentioned in this eBook.

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4. Colcord Ridge Dispersed Camping Area

The Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery exists near the Colcord Ridge Dispersed Camping Area. There are approximately fourteen camping sites at this location, the majority of which include a fire pit along with a picnic table.

This camping location lacks running water, but you will find a vault toilet. At Colcord Ridge, you can camp on any day of visiting. However, the summer months are the most suitable.

You may also then head towards Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery for some angling. During your stay, you may encounter many animals because the area is known for thriving wildlife.

The Fish Hatchery is accessible by a trail that runs through Canyon Creek. Tonto National Forest also has a number of other hiking paths.

There are hundreds to select from, so you will not get bored of all the ventures you can do while you’re there.

5. Little Green Valley Dispersed Camping Area

Near Hell’s Gate is the Little Green Valley Dispersed Camping Area. There are about fourteen distinct campsites, and several of them can easily accommodate an RV if you are not tenting.

There are no hookups or other facilities at this campground, so you’ll have to carry everything you need.

You must face the Hells Gate Trail because you are so close to Hell’s Gate. The trail is 14 and a half miles long. It’s a strenuous hike, but if you go during the summer, you’ll find a swimming hole to cool off in.

6. Upper Canyon Creek Campground

The Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery and the Upper Canyon Creek Campground are both located adjacent to the Mogollon Rim.

There is no water as well as other facilities at this campground.

Each campground is equipped with a picnic table and a fire pit.

A campground will accommodate larger parties, but availability isn’t assured because the campground is a first-come, first-served site.

When camping at this campground, there are a number of hiking routes to consider. Bell Trail is one of the most popular throughout the summer since it leads to Beaver Creek after three and a half miles.

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7. Flowing Spring Campground

Although there are no official campgrounds in this region north of Payson, you can pull over and set up camp.

You will find a vault toilet near this camping spot, but no other facilities are offered. The Flowing Spring Campground is near the Verde River.

The river adjacent to Flowing Spring Campground is popular for fishing, and most people enjoy the peace and quiet.

There are many trekking trails present at the Flowing Spring Campground, offering eloquent sights to the hikers.

All of the trails are worth trekking.

8. Mogollon Rim Road

Mogollon Rim Road is one of our loved areas for dispersed camping around Arizona just northeast of Payson.

The Mogollon Rim is a 195-mile canyon with several dispersed camping opportunities on the steep hills, many with panoramic vistas of the woodlands hundreds of meters down.

There are actually hundreds of sites to dispersed camp here, but our favorites are along or just a little off Rim Road north of Highway 260. (FR 300). To get here, head north from the Mogollon Rim Visitor Center.

Several of the scattered camping spots are titled after the forestry track they are situated on and can be discovered on Google Maps. For instance, FR 195 Campground is an excellent place to start for first-timers (though you’ll probably want to go ahead).

Another of our favorite spots to camp on the Mogollon Rim is FR171 Campground, which is located towards the south of Highway 260 on Old Rim Road (FR 171). At the Mogollon Rim Center, you must go south rather than north.

Most of the dispersed campsites are only a couple of meters away from the Rim. Remember to stay attentive, even though these are the best positions (at least for views).

Keep kids and pets nearby because drops of up to 200 feet are typical.

Because of the Mogollon Rim’s popularity, most of the area’s scattered campsites have been designated. You will have to pitch your tent within 60 feet of an authorized campsite, which is typically identified by a sign.

9. Verde Glen Campground

The greatest of the backcountry! This summer, Verde Glen Campground in Tonto National Forest seems to be the ideal spot for your next adventure.

As you navigate your way to this isolated hideaway on the banks of the East Verde River, pack it in (and out!).

It’s an ideal location for dispersed camping.

You may either fish for days or relax in your camp chair. It’s entirely up to you! But keep in mind that these remote locations have no conveniences, so bring some water with you! Have a blast!

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10. Bear Flat Campground

If you’re itching to pitch your tent, Bear Flat Campground in Arizona is the place to be. Dispersed camping,  swimming, fish hiking, and golfing are just a few of the outdoor activities available close by, so there’s no way to be bored.

Bear Flat Campground is close to a lot of fun things to do, and campgrounds like this are great. If you are a camping person who loves going out, boredom will stay miles away from you in Arizona.

Before visiting, you should check the conditions; whitewater rafting and kayaking can be deadly. Bear Flat Pleasant Valley Path, a magnificent great outdoors trail nearby, offers 1,300 feet of elevation change and 7.9 miles of hiking.

If you are in and around Nevada, then you must check these dispersed camping areas near Las Vegas

Conclusion

This article discussed all of the best dispersed camping near Payson, Arizona.

It’s easy to get decision paralysis when there are so many free camping spots to choose from around Payson, Arizona, due to the Tonto National Forest!

Hopefully, our list of preferred dispersed camping places provided you with some ideas for where to pitch your tent!

We chose our campsites based on their closeness to Payson, overall camp views, and privacy.

We hope you’ve found all you need to plan for an amazing dispersed camping vacation near Payson, Arizona, and we’re confident you’ll find the right spot for your next adventure!

FAQ

Where can I disperse camp in Arizona?

Following are enlisted some of the best dispersed camping sites near Payson, Arizona:

  • Airplane Flat Dispersed Camping Area
  • FSR 405A Dispersed Camping Area
  • FSR 419 Dispersed Camping Area
  • Colcord Ridge Dispersed Camping Area
  • Little Green Valley Dispersed Camping Area
  • Flowing Spring Campground

Can you camp anywhere in Payson, AZ?

Payson is a great place to camp in Northeastern Arizona since it is nestled in the Tonto National Forest and on the edge of the Mongolian Rim.

The Tonto National Forest comprises half a million acres of woodlands and kilometers of state forest roads, so there are plenty of free, dispersed camping spaces!

About Ted Mosby

My Name is Ted Mosby from Cleveland, Ohio. I am a freelance Architect. I live in New Jersey, USA right now and I take my RV every alternate weekend. As I am a Freelancer I can work anywhere so most of my work is done inside my camper remotely.