Coronado National Forest

Learn about camping and boondocking at Coronado National Forest, Arizona

Coronado National Forest, Camping Rules

Coronado National Forest, Camping Rules


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

coronado national forest camping
Boondocking at Proctor Dispersed Area, Coronado National Forest. Photo by adamcastiel, FreeRoam

Coronado National Forest, Camping Rules

Passes and Permits

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

Areas Off-Limits to Camping

Coronado National Forest maintains numerous areas that are either off-limits to camping, or are off-limits on a seasonal basis. Because these areas open and close throughout the year, you will have to refer to the Forest’s latest published Forest Orders. To see these Forest Orders… (Reference, Alerts and Notices, Coronado National Forest).

Maximum Length of Stay

As of August 2, 2019, the maximum length of stay for camping at Coronado National Forest is 14 days within any 60-day period. (Reference, Coronado Forest Order 03-05-00-19-009).

Campfire Restrictions

A permit is not required to build a campfire while boondocking at Coronado 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, Alerts and Notices, Coronado National Forest).

Gathering Firewood

You’re free to gather dead and down firewood to build a campfire while camping at Coronado 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 Product Permits, Coronado 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 – Coronado National Forest limits dispersed camping to no more than 300 feet from designated roads. For a list of roads designated with this limitation, see the forest’s Motor Vehicle Use Maps (below).

Developed Areas – Coronado National Forest currently has no other camping setbacks from developed areas.


Target shooting is allowed inside Coronado National Forest. Hunting is allowed, in accordance to Arizona’s hunting laws and regulations. (Reference, Frequently Asked Questions, Coronado National Forest).

  • 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.

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 identified in the Motor Vehicle Use Maps for Coronado National Forest. See “Motor Vehicle Use Maps” below.

  • 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 Coronado National Forest, considers 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.

Motor Vehicle Use Maps

These are the Forest’s official road maps. They indicate which roads are open to street-legal vehicles only, and which are open to both street-legal vehicles and non-street legal vehicles. They also explain which roads are designated as “dispersed camping”. For further discussion on this read, “How to Use Motor Vehicle Maps (MVUM) to Find Free Camping“.

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

More About Boondocking in National Forests

More About Boondocking in Arizona

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