Elks bulging, squirrels chasing one another up a pine tree, a lone antelope prancing through the forest, birds singing, woodpeckers pecking, sitting around a burning campfire reminiscing about the incredible the day. We experienced all of that a few miles outside the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in the Kaibab National Forest.
Free Camping Outside Grand Canyon South Rim
Throughout our travels, we always look for dispersed camping spots. This was the first time we found a road we could easily drive an RV on without hesitation.
Many forest and BLM roads in Utah and Colorado were too rough for a Class A motorhome. Since we live out of the RV full time, we choose to be extra careful in terms of where we camp and the roads we drive on.
Fire Road 688 – Dispersed Camping
Fire Road 688 (35.9262, -112.1245) is a well maintained gravel road off AZ-64. We scoped out the sites in our four-wheel drive tow car before driving the RV in. The site we found was mostly dirt and pine needles with a large tree that provided some shade.
Available campsites are easier to find during the week. There was a day when it seemed like we were the only campers in our part of the forest. On the weekends, most sites are occupied by campers in tents, cars, fifth wheels and even RVs over 40 feet.
At night, the stars were brilliant against the black sky. The only noise was from the forest or the occasional car driving by on 64. The park ranger informed us there were no fire restrictions, so we collected dead wood from the forest one day and enjoyed a campfire for a few hours that evening.
The road was frequented by hunters during our stay and we did hear gun shots two of the days we were camped. It’s hunting season so we expected to see and hear hunters.
On the last day, the area became very busy with vehicles traveling back and forth. We didn’t know why the area had become so busy until the next day when we went to Mather Campground. As it turns out, when the park campgrounds are sold out, the rangers direct people to this area.
Notes on Free Camping Outside Grand Canyon
Cell phone coverage was decent. We had 3G AT&T cell phone reception at our campsite. While our phones were off most of the time, it was nice to check email and be able to make the occasional call.
Stock up on supplies before heading into the area. There isn’t much locally for groceries and the food/gas prices in Tusayan (and inside the national park) are inflated.
Besides the last night of our stay, this has been one of the best camping experiences since we hit the road. There is something incredible about being in the middle of the forest and connecting with nature. We really enjoyed the peace and solitude the forest offered and look forward to coming back.
If you’re looking for free camping outside Grand Canyon South Rim, we highlight recommend this spot.
Learn more about the ins and outs of Dispersed Camping in the National Forest.
Check out more Free Camping Spots.
Want to camp inside Grand Canyon National Park? Mather Campground is a great option.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 6, 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.