Boondocking, also known as dry camping, is widely available in the area. You can park on BLM land for free for up to 14 days and then you have to move at least 25 miles away. I don’t think that anyone is monitoring too closely, but 14 days was good for us. There are no hookups or dump stations, so you are camping with what you have. Check out our post for solar and our inverter here: Solar & Inverter
This area is extremely RV friendly. Aside from the boondocking, there are tons of RV parks*. After reading multiple blogs and reviews we decided to boondock on Loy Butte Road (FR 525). It is right in between Sedona and Cottonwood. It is a very bumpy road, so drive with caution. Directions: Off of 89A get onto FR525 West. Make sure you are going West, unless you have done a scout trip in a car to the East. Go east and you will have a steep down grade, with very few spots to turn around. FR 525 is clearly marked from the road, but not a large sign. Going West, there is a split in the road after 3 miles. We stayed to the left and went onto FR525C** and stayed at marker NF – 9554:
We also stayed right before the split because the drive to and from town was getting long. We loved our new spot as well:
There were spots all along the road, some good for RVs (group spots and individual spots), and others that were good for just tent camping or small vans. You do have to watch out for cows along the way! They are not always in a hurry to get out of your way and keep your distance in case one gets a little angry since at this time of year they have their calves.
We had no trouble finding the exact one we wanted. The site was somewhat close to the road but the car noise didn’t bother us and we didn’t have a single neighbor the entire time. Everyone waves and it’s fun to see the ATV, jeep tours, and others driving by. Our favorite was the local UPS driver, who we saw every day. We have read other reviews where they were a little bothered by the tours, but it did not affect us in the least. They were sporadic during the day, and never left the main road Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any hot air balloons this time.
And the sunsets you get are awesome!
We have Verizon and had good service at our spot. 4 bars.
* April is still considered peak time here. The cheapest RV Park with full hook ups we could find was for $35 and went all the way up to over $50/night.
** If you stay on NF 525 there are also multiple small tent/car camping along the way and 2 large group areas.
We were surprised about how many other towns that are nearby that have a lot of things to do. We had never heard of some but had a great time in them all. Other than Sedona and Cottonwood we ventured to Cornville, Page Springs, and Jerome. We also went to Flagstaff for the day. We originally only went for the Best Buy there to buy a new camera, but were pleasantly surprised on how beautiful it was. It reminded us of a mountain town in Colorado. The drive from Sedona to Flagstaff is the scenic part of 89A. There are trailheads, restaurants, inns, vista points and one dairy queen(!) along the way. At the top is Oak Creek Vista looking over Oak Creek Canyon. There is plenty of parking, restrooms and vending machines (Pepsi). They also have a Native American jewelry market with about 7 different vendors. After you pass the market you reach the view:
There is a long list of hikes, small and large that you can do, along with plenty of restaurants to choose from. Mariposa seemed to be the most popular, but we didn’t go there because of the $$$$. As mentioned before, there were tons of jeep and ATV tours and rentals. Although we did not partake in any of them, they seemed to be very popular. The other fun thing to do is ask the locals where to go. They all seemed eager to tell us know where their favorite spot was. Jerome seemed to be the winner.
Water and Dump
There are a couple places to dump and fill up with water. We used sanidump and rvdump. We couldn’t find anywhere in Sedona but there were a couple places in Cottonwood. It’s free at the Giant gas station on Main Street, but they DO NOT have potable water. Pro: It’s free and available 24/7 Con: It’s a busy area and if you need to clean out a tank it’s not a good place to be for too long and they don’t have water.
We decided to go to the county fairgrounds off of E. Cherry Street. It is $5, but the space is really nice and you don’t feel rushed. The people are very nice and were willing to help us immediately. When you enter the fairgrounds parking lot keep going straight and past the two admission stalls:
After you get through that gate keep going and you will see the office on your left:
Just tell them that you are there to dump and they will take your $5 and then show you to the dump station and which water spigot you should use. We had to clean out our fresh water tank so we were there about 2 hours and at no point did we feel rushed or in the way. We tried to go again the day the fair ended and they said that they wouldn’t be opening up for another four days. When we first stopped the guy says that there is usually someone always there, so con: it might be closed. They do allow some dry camping there during the off season if there are no events.
After the fairgrounds didn’t work for the second time we found a place in Camp Verde. There is a Shell station off I-17 and Hwy-260. It is $5 to dump and get potable water, and enough space to feel comfortable getting to the spot with a large rig. There is a $10 deposit because they give you the keys to unlock the water and dump, but you get it back when you return the keys. It was a bit of a drive but it was nice having the confidence that it would definitely be open, have potable water, and be cheap.
We went into Cottonwood for groceries at the local Safeway for good prices, selection, and to get the gas rewards for Chevron stations. There is also one in Sedona, and we couldn’t tell a price difference. If you are not on a budget there is a Whole Foods in Sedona and a lot of organic and boutique markets.
We had our Verizon hotspot, but since we didn’t want to use up our data we would go to Starbucks in Sedona instead. Not all Starbucks have WiFi, even if Yelp says that they do, so make sure to call. We also went to Theias coffee shop in town. Both places had nice baristas and didn’t care how long you sat for. Their internet was fast and both places had spaces to sit indoors or out.