Arizona State Land Department

Learn about camping and boondocking on Arizona State Trust Lands

Camping on Arizona State Trust Lands

Camping on Arizona State Trust Lands


The State of Arizona permits camping on most of its 9.4 million acres of State Trust Lands. Camping is not free, however. On the other hand, boondocking (dispersed camping) is allowed at a very reasonable cost. See “Recreational Permits” below.

camping arizona state trust land
Boondocking on Arizona State Trust Lands, Southern Arizona

Camping on Arizona State Trust Lands

The State of Arizona owns 9.4 million acres of trust land. A lot of this is open for camping. The only trust land not open for camping are those currently leased for other uses (agriculture, mining).

To camp on Arizona State Trust Land, you first have to obtain a “Recreational Permit”. Once you have that permit in hand, you can set up camp anywhere on those 8.0 million acres.

All Arizona State Trust Lands are managed by the Arizona State Land Department. The Department has not built any developed campgrounds on its own. However, the Department has partnered with other state agencies to develop recreational areas on trust land. Those recreational areas, however, are managed by those other agencies, and their own rules would apply.

Arizona State Trust Land Maps

Rules for Camping on Arizona State Trust Lands

  • Camping is limited to no more than 14 days per calendar year.
  • All travel is restricted to existing roads and trails. A one-time use or single set of tracks does not constitute a road or trail.
  • Motor vehicles can not be operated within 1/4 mile of any building (occupied or not) or stock tanks (wet or dry), or where otherwise prohibited by State, County or local ordinance.
  • You must leave gates either open or closed as they are found. No fences can be cut or laid down.
  • You can not harass livestock or wildlife nor damage, destroy or remove any livestock or wildlife improvements or facilities (i.e., windmills, stock tanks, fences, corrals, wildlife watering facilities, etc.)
  • You must completely remove all litter and refuse.
  • Human waste shall be confined to a portable toilet or slit trench which will be covered to ground level upon closing camp. Waste from portable toilets shall be removed from site and disposed of properly.
  • A campsite must be at least 1/4 mile from any livestock or wildlife water catchments, tanks, drinkers, etc. Abandoned campsites are to be left clean.
  • Campfires are to be thoroughly extinguished. You are required to comply with any campfire restrictions that may be in effect.

Only 14-Days Per Year?

Yes, the actual rule from the AZ State Land Department is that “...overnight camping is limited to a total of 14 cumulative days per calendar year.

  • This is based on the FAQ published on AZ Land Department’s website.
  • Note that we’re aware Sheriff’s deputies are interpreting this rule as just “14 days per year”, ignoring the calendar part. Thus, if you used up your 14 days in December, and planned to use them again the following January, you may be asked to leave.
  • The AZ Land Department usually contracts with county Sheriff’s departments to enforce these rules.
  • Many campers will choose to use their 14 days in the last two week of December, believing they get another set of two weeks beginning in January, and then preparing to camping for a total of 28 days straight. While technically this is within the rules (based on calendar year), Sheriff’s deputies have forced campers off after the first 14 days.

Recreational Permits

To camp on Arizona State Trust Lands you must obtain a “Recreational Permit”. The Arizona State Land Department offers four types of permits…

  • Individual Permit ($15.00 for 12 months)
  • Family Permit ($20.00 for 12 months, covers 2 parents & all children under 18 years)
  • Small Group Permit ($15.00 for 5 days, 20 people or less)
  • Large Group Permit ($300.00 per event, 20 people or more)

You can get a permit from Arizona’s State Land Department website.

Note: Each person in your group must be covered by a permit, regardless of age, either as a family permit, group permit, or individual permit.

OHV Permits

If you plan to use your Off Highway Vehicles while camping, you must obtain a separate OHV permit, per vehicle.

  • If you are an Arizona resident, you can obtain an OHV permit from the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) offices statewide, an authorized third-party MVD service provider or online at
  • If you are not an Arizona resident, you can obtain an OHV permit online through an Arizona Game and Fish Department portal account. The decal is not be sold at Arizona Game and Fish Department offices.

What is Arizona State Trust Land?

State Trust Lands are lands that the federal government gave to a state when it was admitted into the Union.

Before a territory became a state, its land was almost all owned by the federal government. Once the territory entered statehood, Congress gave land to that state for purposes of generating revenue. Many states sold off much of their trust lands for quick cash. Other states, however, chose to hold on to those lands to create recurring revenue.

Arizona holds more trust land than any other state. Much of that land is leased to agricultural businesses, including farms and ranches. About 80% of its trust lands are leased for grazing. Grazing lands are still available for camping. Meanwhile, lands leased for “Agricultural”, “Commercial”, “Concession”, or “Institutional”, are off-limits to camping. The State of Arizona uses this revenue to pay for public institutions such as schools, hospitals, prisons, etc.

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12 thoughts on “Camping on Arizona State Trust Lands”

  1. If I have purchased an Individual Use 12-Month Recreation Permit am I still limited to only 14 days “camping” per year? How do I acquire information about leasing land, for example, a 10-year lease, and how large a parcel does $1000 for a “Special Use” or “Commercial Use.”

    • Yes, it’s only 14 days for the entire year. That’s because most of the land you are camping on is already leased to ranchers and farmers; the state wants to limit the amount of people camping on grazing lands. I don’t know the particularly about leasing land, you’d have to call the State Land Office at 602.542.4631

    • Correct. You don’t have to use all 14 days at once, you can spread them throughout the year. But, that’s all you get.

  2. We have people staying for months in Cornville, az. Who enforces these long stays and checks for permits, trash, waste and fire dangers. It seems out of control out here!

  3. This article is full of falsity. The 14-day limit is not for the whole year.

    You can camp NO LONGER than 14 days in the same place. After 14 days, you need to move to another location.

    Motor vehicles ARE allowed to travel within 1/4 mile of buildings and stock tanks. I’m not sure where that came from…

    Grazing land is NOT open for recreation.

  4. I would like to purchase a map showing state trust land for the Florence, Az area. I am specifically looking at the area south of Florence along Highway 79. Also is the map capable of showing mile markers for highways so as to not trespass on private property?

  5. Kevin say: grazing land is not open for recreational use is false from what I read. Grazing leases and agriculture use are two different things

  6. Actually according to the Coconino County sheriff’s officers that I have talked to and mind you been arrested for the camping law and been to court over and the federal judge the proceeded over my camping hearing in court stated and i quote “that yes the 14 day camping law is real, but has in fact been revised from the original statue of per year in Arizona to where campers are now allowed to camp for 14 days in one named forest at one spot but once 14 days are up they either can and have to move to a new named forest and can’t be in a named forest again to camp for a period of 30 days period for example. Let’s say campers go to navel observation observatory camping grown if forgot the forest part it’s called. Their 14 days are up and they pack up. Now they picked a spot over out towards lupe td if not mistake camping area (A) and camping areas have two separate names camping places are in two separate areas of Flagstaff az which one is named different than the other one. Well that according to law enforcement sheriff’s officers and department officials is in fact legal to camp for 14 more days. If the names happpend of been the same as the other one then yes that is official braking the law but be careful how you word things because the forestry has a habit of twisting things around to where they can and will arrest you for braking the law like they did with me trying to say I was using the forest as a home when I wasn’t and they took me to jail for 14 days jail. Just as a heads up


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