Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona

Learn about boondocking at Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, including where to find boondocking sites, maps of campsites at Kofa NWR, and camping rules.

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge Camping Guide

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge Camping Guide


The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is one of the few units managed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service that allows “true” dispersed camping throughout much of its land. The rules published below were gathered from information published by Kofa National Wildlife Refuge and from laws and regulations adopted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service…

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge Camping Guide

Where to Camp

Camping is allowed throughout much of the refuge. However, vehicles are required to remain on numbered roads, and can travel up to 100 feet away from either side of the road.

Where Vehicles Are Not Allowed

Vehicles are not allowed in areas classified as “wilderness”, which encompasses the majority of the refuge (see shaded areas in the map above). By federal law, vehicles are banned in wilderness areas, and this includes bicycles too. However, camping is still allowed within wilderness as long as your camping gear is brought in by foot.

Private Property Inside the Refuge

There are also a handful of tiny “inholdings” inside the refuge, which are plots of private property. Most of these plots pre-dated the refuge. You cannot camp inside these inholdings without permission from the owner. These inholdings are identified in the map above as uncolored (not orange) areas.

Passes and Permits

Passes or permits are not required for boondocking (dispersed camping) inside Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. Special Use Permits are available for commercial activities like guided tours, hunts, filming, or group events.

Campfire Restrictions

Campfires are permitted without limitations. You’re free to gather dead and down firewood to build a campfire. You are not allowed to transport wood outside of the refuge. You cannot cut down standing trees, dead or alive. (Reference, Kofa National Wildlife Refuge Public Use Regulations)

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 – Vehicles may not travel any more than 100 feet from either side of a road. (Reference, Kofa National Wildlife Refuge Public Use Regulations)
  • Other – There are no other required setbacks from developed areas or buildings within the refuge.


Firearms are allowed into the Refuge. Shooting firearms is prohibited with the exception of hunting or self-defense. Shooting under any other use, including target shooting, is prohibited. (Reference, § 27-42 Firearms)

  • Air guns, bows and arrows, crossbows, spears, gigs, or other weapons are not allowed into the Refuge, except for use with hunting. (Reference, § 27-43 Weapons Other Than Firearms)
  • Fireworks and other explosives are prohibited. (Reference, Kofa National Wildlife Refuge Public Use Regulations)

Vehicle Rules

All vehicles are restricted to designated or numbered roads. All vehicles must be street-legal, including being registered with current license plates. No vehicle can drive beyond 100 feet from either side of a road. All vehicles with modified exhaust systems are prohibited. (Reference, § 27-31 General Provisions Regarding Vehicles)

Removing Objects

  • Recreational (noncommercial) rock or mineral collecting is restricted to the 1.5 square mile Crystal Hill Area north and east of Junction #77 (See “Kofa National Wildlife Refuge Map” below). Possession of rocks is limited to 10 specimens or 10 pounds (whichever occurs first) in any 12 month period. Rock or mineral collection is limited to materials that are exposed and collectable without the use of tools (metal detectors are considered tools). Digging, including the use of simple hand tools, is prohibited.
  • The collection of any rocks or minerals is prohibited on the remainder of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.
  • You are prohibited from removing plants and animals from the refuge. (Reference, § 27-21 Taking Violations)
  • You are prohibited from removing any other objects of antiquity (arrowheads, old mining tools) from the refuge. (Reference, § 27-62 Search for and Removal of Objects of Antiquity)
  • You are prohibited from removing any precious metals, buried treasure or treasure troves. (Reference, § 27-63 Search for and Removal of Other Valued Objects)

Disorderly Conduct

  • Being under the influence of alcohol to the extent that one endangers himself or others, or annoy others nearby, is prohibited. (Reference, § 27-81 Alcoholic Beverages)
  • A controlled substance that was not prescribed by a physician is prohibited inside the Refuge. Being under the influence of a controlled substance, even if it was prescribed by a physician, to the extent that it poses a threat to oneself or others, is prohibited. (Reference, § 27-82 Possession and Delivery of Controlled Substances)
  • Any act of indecency or disorderly conduct that is already prohibited by state or local laws, is prohibited within the Refuge. (Reference, § 27-83 Indecency and Disorderly Conduct)
  • Interfering with other visitors or Refuge staff is prohibited. (Reference, § 27-84 Interference with Persons Engaged in Authorized Activities)
  • Any form of gambling, or operating any kind of gambling device, is prohibited. (Reference, § 27-85 Gambling)
  • Asking for money or begging is prohibited. Soliciting support for a cause is prohibited. (Reference, § 27-86 Begging)

Disposal of Waste

Dumping sewage holding tanks (gray tank, black tank) on Refuge grounds is prohibited unless dumped into a container designed for that purpose. (Reference, § 27-94 Disposal of Waste)


  • Pets must be confined or leashed at all times, with the exception of being used for quail and cottontail hunting. (Reference, Kofa National Wildlife Refuge Public Use Regulations)
  • The operation of field trials for dogs is prohibited. (Reference, § 27-91 Field Trials)

Flying Drones

Drones may not be flown within the Refuge. (Reference, Kofa National Wildlife Refuge Public Use Regulations) also (Reference, § 27-34 Aircraft)

Hiking, Climbing, and Exploration

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge Map

kofa national wildlife refuge map

Additional Information


Phone Numbers

Leave a Comment