The Arizona BLM camping rules published below were gathered from information published by the Arizona Bureau of Land Management Office and from laws and regulations adopted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture…
Arizona BLM Camping Rules
Passes and Permits – Nearly all BLM land in Arizona is open for camping without permits. There are only six areas in Arizona where permits are required to enter or camp…
- Aravaipa Canyon – (Camping Allowed) Located northeast of Tucson, in a remote area. You can only access it from the East Trailhead along Aravaipa Canal Road, which comes from Aravaipa Canyon Road, which comes from Klondyke Road in the tiny hamlet of Klondyke, AZ. No vehicle camping is allowed here due to its status as Wilderness, however camping is still allowed if you can carry your gear on foot. See Google Map Link for the East Trailhead.
- Sand Tank Mountains – (Camping Allowed) Located along the southern border of Sonoran Desert National Monument, about 15 miles east of Gila Bend, these are the series of mountains seen in the distance south of Interstate-8. The Barry M. Goldwater Range East (a bombing range) is located just south of these mountains. As such, a permit is required to enter these mountains. See Map of this Area. A permit can be obtained at this link.
- San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area – (Camping Allowed) Located in southern Arizona, just west of Tombstone, this is a narrow strip of area along the San Pedro River, with the towns of St. David at the north and Hereford at the south. A permit is required to camp anywhere inside this area, however permits are not needed for day-use activities. No vehicle camping is allowed; only backcountry camping (by foot).
- Coyote Buttes North (the Wave) – (Camping Not Allowed) Located only a 1,000 feet from the Utah border, this is the famed hiking area at the northern portion of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. There is no camping allowed here. You still need a permit to hike through here. See Google Map Link for the location.
- Coyote Buttes South – (Camping Not Allowed) Located south of “the Wave”, near Cottonwood Cove, this area is also off-limits to camping. You still need a permit to hike through here. See Google Map Link for the location.
- Paria Canyon – (Camping Allowed) Also located within Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, this refers to the area surrounding the cliffs (bounded by the Colorado River and Paria River). No vehicles are allowed in this area due to its status as Wilderness. To camp here you must hike your gear by foot. Camping on or near an archaeological site (petroglyffs) is prohibited. Camping in Wrather Canyon is also prohibited. See Google Map Link for the location.
Areas Off-Limits to Camping – Nearly all BLM lands are open for camping. Vehicles are not allowed into BLM areas designated as “Wilderness” (see Vehicle Rules below). However, camping is still allowed in Wilderness areas if you are willing to hike your gear in. Only the following areas are off limits to camping…
- Coyote Buttes North (the Wave) – Located only a 1,000 feet from the Utah border, this is the famed hiking area at the northern portion of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. A permit is required to enter here. See Google Map Link for the location.
- Coyote Buttes South – Located south of “the Wave”, near Cottonwood Cove. A permit is required to enter here. See Google Map Link for the location.
- Gila Box Riparian Areas – Located along the Gila River between Safford and Clifton. Camping is only prohibited on the actual riparian areas (the narrow strip of land buffering either side of the river). See Google Map Link for the location.
- Barry M. Goldwater Range East – This is a bombing range located in the southern portion of Arizona between Interstate-8 and the Mexican border. Much of this area is off-limits to the public. However, there are still areas inside the range where the public is allowed, and where camping is allow. See Barry M. Goldwater East Public Area Map.
- Barry M. Goldwater Range West– This is a bombing range located in the southern portion of Arizona between Interstate-8 and the Mexican border. Much of this area is off-limits to the public. However, there are still areas inside the range where the public is allowed, and where camping is allow. See Barry M. Goldwater West Public Area Map.
Maximum Length of Stay – The maximum length of stay for most all BLM land in Arizona is 14-days within a 28-day period, within a 25-mile radius. This means that once you set up camp, a 28-day clock begins ticking. You are allowed to camp up to 14-days within that clock. Once you have exhausted 14 days of camping, you must pack up camp and move out. That 28-day clock still continues to click for that campsite. You cannot return anywhere within a 25-mile radius of that campsite until that 28-day clock has exhausted.
There are some exceptions to the above…
- Aravaipa Canyon – The maximum length of stay is 3 day (2 nights). Located northeast of Tucson, in a remote area. No vehicle camping is allowed here due to its status as Wilderness, however camping is still allowed if you can carry your gear on foot. See Google Map Link for the East Trailhead.
- La Posa Long Term Visitor Area – The maximum length of stay is seven (7) months between September 15 to April 15 of each year, but costs $180.00 total for this stay. Located just outside of Quartzsite. See Google Map Link for this area.
Campfire Restrictions – Campfire via rock ring, metal container, barbecue grill, or gas burning stove is permitted across BLM areas in Arizona. However also note…
- Fireworks, exploding targets, and sky lanterns are prohibited. (See Arizona BLM Fire Prevention Order.)
- Gathering dead and down firewood is permitted. Cutting down standing trees for your own campfire is also permitted, unless otherwise posted. You are not allowed to cut down more than you need for a campfire. You are not allowed to cut down trees for commercial purposes or transporting back home. (See § 8365.1-5 Property and resources.)
- Fire restrictions do come up, you can check the Arizona Interagency Wildland Fire website for the latest restrictions.
- Water – The State of Arizona has a law prohibiting anyone from camping within 1/4 mile of a body of water (lakes, rivers, et al) or from a livestock watering container. This law is published under Arizona Revised Statute, Title 17 Fish & Game. (Reference, ARS § 17-308 Unlawful camping)
- Roads – There are no required setbacks.
- Other – There are no required setbacks.
Weapons – Firearms are allowed into BLM lands. Target shooting is permitted as long as it falls within existing laws and regulations of Arizona.
- You are not allowed to shoot trees, plants or cactus, nor fix targets to them.
- You may not discharge a weapon within 1/4 mile of a residence, another campsite, or other developed area. This is an Arizona law that applies statewide.
Vehicle Rules – All vehicles are restricted to established roads and trails. vehicular use is limited to the laws and regulations of Arizona. Driving away from the road is restricted to areas designated for off-road use (OHV areas and parks). (See § 8341.1 Regulations governing use.)
- You can still drive off of a road as long as you remain on firm, previously driven areas for camping.
- You are not allowed to destroy plants, rocks, or archaeological remains in the course of driving a vehicle. (See § 8365.1-5 Property and resources.)
- Areas designated by the BLM as “Wilderness” are off-limits to vehicles. There are currently 47 BLM Wilderness Areas in Arizona. To find out where these are… (See Arizona National Conservation Lands).
- You can collect a wide variety of objects from the land as long as you’re collecting them for your own personal use. Such objects include: berries, nuts, flowers, seeds, cones, leaves, rock, minerals, fossils, semiprecious gems, petrified wood, and wood for campfire use. (See § 8365.1-5 Property and resources.)
- You are not allowed to collect the above items for resale or commercial use.
- You are not allowed to collect mineral items (rocks, fossils, gems, et al) within national monuments.
- You cannot use motorized or mechanical devices to excavate, harvest, and remove the above items. However, metal detectors are excepted.
The Bureau of Land Management has a nationwide rule against the following (See § 8365.1-4 Public health, safety and comfort)…
- Making unreasonable noise;
- Creating a hazard or nuisance;
- Refusing to disperse, when directed to do so by an authorized officer;
- Resisting arrest or issuance of citation by an authorized BLM officer;
- Interfering with any Bureau of Land Management employee or volunteer engaged in performance of official duties;
- Assaulting, committing a battery upon, or
- Knowingly giving any false or fraudulent report of an emergency situation or crime to any Bureau of Land Management employee or volunteer.
In addition to the above, the following are also prohibited…
- Cultivating, manufacturing, delivering, distributing or trafficking a controlled substance is prohibited.
- Possession of a controlled substance is prohibited unless prescribed by a physician.
Naked Camping – Nudity is not specifically addressed by the BLM, and thus not specifically prohibited either. However, the BLM allows state laws to apply. Arizona has a law against public nudity only if another person is present, and if the nude person doesn’t care if the other person is offended or not. (See Title 13. Criminal Code § 13-1402. Indecent exposure; exception; classification)
Disposal of Waste – The Bureau of Land Management has a nationwide rule against dumping sewage on the ground, however it allows persons to dump “wash water”. (See § 8365.1-1 Sanitation.)
- The BLM does not define “wash water”. We assume it to mean any water that was used for washing, which could include showering, cleaning dishes, brushing teeth, washing hands, et al.
- Pooping into a hole that you dug is permitted as part of the “Leave no Trace” code of ethics which the BLM has supported. Leave no Trace recommends digging a hole at least 200 feet from a body of water.
Geocaching – is permitted on BLM lands. However, the BLM requires each person to notify the BLM field office responsible for the area you are interested in of the exact geocache location. (See Arizona BLM Recreational Activities).
Pets – The subject of pets is not addressed by the Bureau of Land Management, except on developed campgrounds where pets are not allowed at swimming areas. Otherwise, the BLM does not require pets to be leashed. However if your pet injures another person or pet you may be held liable for damages.
- The BLM also allows Arizona laws and regulations to apply. Currently, the state allows dogs to run at large as long as they are licensed, tagged and current with all required vaccines. Dogs that are known to be vicious, as well as female dogs in their mating season, are not allowed at large. Dogs in designated rabies quarantine areas are not allowed at large. (See 11-1012. Dogs not permitted at large; wearing licenses)
Flying Drones – The subject of flying drones on Arizona BLM lands has not been addressed.
Hiking, Climbing, and Exploration
- Entering into a mine or cave has not been specifically addressed by the BLM.
- Certain caves or mines may have entrances blocked off or have signs posted prohibiting entrance.
- Arizona BLM Official Website, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
- Bureau of Land Management, Code of Federal Regulations, Boondocker’s Bible Legal Database
- All Articles About Camping in Arizona, Boondocker’s Bible Knowledgebase
Arizona BLM Maps
- To see all Arizona BLM Maps… (see Arizona BLM Maps)