Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

Learn about camping and boondocking at Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Arizona

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Camping Rules

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Camping Rules


These official rules and regulations for camping at Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest were gathered from Orders issued by the Supervisor of Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, along with information published U.S. Forest Service website, and from the Code of Federal Regulations…

apache-sitgreaves national forest camping
Greens Peak, Dispersed Area, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Photo by Nicolextine, FreeRoam

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Camping Rules

Passes and Permits

Purchase of passes or permits is not required for boondocking (dispersed camping) inside Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

Maximum Length of Stay

As of May 19, 2020, the maximum length of stay for camping at Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is 14 days within any 30-day period. (Reference, Apache-Sitgreaves Forest Order 03-02-20-02).

  • There is no radius-distance for this rule; it appears to apply forest-wide.
  • This means once you’ve exhausted 14 days in a 30 day period, you cannot camp anywhere inside Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest until that 30 day period has expired.

Campfire Restrictions

A permit is not required to build a campfire while boondocking at Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

  • However, campfire bans and restrictions come and go throughout the year. Check with the local ranger district office (see phone numbers below) for the current campfire restrictions.
  • Current campfire restrictions are also published on the forest’s website. (Reference, Fire Main Page, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest).

Gathering Firewood

You’re free to gather dead and down firewood to build a campfire while camping at Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. You are not allowed to transport wood home or outside of the forest. You cannot cut down standing trees, dead or alive, without a permit, regardless for camping or home use. (Reference, Forest Products, Passes and Permits, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest).

Camping Setbacks

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 – Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest has not issued any orders regarding maximum or minimum camping setbacks from roads. It’s our belief that dispersed camping is permitted along any roads as long as you don’t drive over existing plants and animal habitats, and keep your vehicle in established clearings or previously-used campsites.

Developed Areas – Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest has not issued any orders regarding maximum or minimum camping setbacks from other developed campgrounds, administrative areas, or other developed areas.


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. Note that this is a much greater distance than U.S. Forest Service’s requirement of 150 yards. The state law takes precedence here. For more information… (Reference, Shooting on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest).

Food Storage Rules

As of this writing, the only food storage rules in effect applies to camping inside Big Lake Recreation Area within the Springerville Ranger District. For more details about these rules… Reference, Apache-Sitgreaves Forest Order 03-02-20-01)…

Off-Highway Vehicle Rules

Street-legal vehicles may be operated on all roads open for public use. Non-street legal vehicles are limited to only roads that are marked by a vertically numbered sign…

horizontally numbered road sign and vertically numbered road sign

  • Non-street legal vehicles must still meet State-mandated title and equipment requirements to be ridden on forest roads.
  • The U.S. Forest Service, including Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, consider any vehicle capable of traveling over a non-paved road, an “off-highway vehicle”. This includes RVs, cars, vans, trucks, motorcycles, everything.
  • The only distinction they make is between street-legal vehicles and non-street-legal vehicles.
  • For all OHV rules and definitions specific to Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest… (Reference, Off-Highway Vehicle Information, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest).

Camping Rules that Apply to All National Forests

Disorderly Conduct

The following are prohibited (Reference, CFR Title 36, Chapter II, § 261.4 Disorderly conduct)…

  • Inciting others into violence,
  • Fighting, and
  • Causing public inconvenience, annoyance, or creating alarm by making unreasonably loud noises.


The following are prohibited (Reference, CFR Title 36, Chapter II, § 261.5 Fire)…

  • Leaving a fire without completely extinguishing it,
  • Firing any tracer bullet or incendiary ammunition,
  • Building a campfire without removing all flammable material around the campfire, and
  • Failing to maintain control of a campfire.

Occupancy and Use Restrictions

The following are prohibited (Reference, CFR Title 36, Chapter II, § 261.10 Occupancy and use)…

  • Building your own roads, structures, enclosures, or other improvements on forest lands,
  • Using forest lands for permanent residence,
  • Shooting a gun within 150 yards of another campsite, campground, residence, or other occupied area,
  • Abandoning personal property, including trash,
  • Parking a vehicle so that it blocks the flow of traffic,
  • Making unreasonably loud noises so that it disturbs nearby campsites, campgrounds, or other persons, and
  • Lighting fireworks or firecrackers inside caves.

Sanitation Rules

The following are prohibited (Reference, CFR Title 36, Chapter II, § 261.11 Sanitation)…

  • Possessing or leaving behind, trash, litter, debris in an exposed, unsanitary condition,
  • Dumping sewage or waste water (gray water) on the ground, and
  • Bringing in trash from home to dump into a forest trash container.

Additional Information

Phone Numbers

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