Coconino National Forest between Cottonwood and Sedona, Arizona. FOREST SERVICE ROADS 525, 525C, AND 9549.
Free Sedona area camping and boondocking. After spending the last five days and nights boondocking here in the Coconino National Forest near Sedona area, I wanted to fill you in on all the details about camping here in the Coconino National Forest between Cottonwood and Sedona, Arizona.
First, it’s important to note Forest Road 525 is the main cut-off from Highway 89A in the Coconino National Forest which runs between Cottonwood and Sedona, Arizona. Forest Roads 525C, and 9549 branches off of Forest Road 525. Take Forest Road 525 to get to all three of these sites. The sideroads are clearly marked. I took Forest Road 525 to the 525C cut-off and followed it to just beyond the 9549 cut-off where I found my site on the left side of the road. The further out you go, the better the views.
The entrance to Coffee Creek is a few miles south of the Forest Road 525 entrance and is also off Highway 89A.
When I visited, the roads weren’t too bad. I have low clearance and must be cautious but I didn’t have any problems. These are dirt and gravel roads and there are segments of washboard road here and there but if you slow down you’ll keep your teeth in your head. The traffic here moves fast. It’s a very busy area and there is constant traffic on Forest Road 525 and Forest Road 525C. The area of the Coconino National Forest is heavily used by off-road vehicles.
Be extra careful when you’re pulling off the main road onto a site. There are some pretty high spots where they have graded the road and deep ruts from people getting stuck in the mud after rains.
Finding your perfect site
I noticed a lot of campers clustered together near the beginning of the road. I don’t know if they prefer that or are uncomfortable going further. I saw several large 5th wheels out as far as I am camped. If you have good clearance, you should be fine. I wouldn’t drive a large motorhome out here but I did see some Super Cs go by. Do your research before you come here so you know what to expect. You can see how I research potential campsites here.
I searched for a site with a view of the red cliffs, large enough to pull through but not so large that others would feel compelled to join me. I do like my privacy. After scouting the entire area over the past few days, I’m convinced I have one of the best sites out there. That tells me I got really lucky because it’s wall-to-wall campers here.
Sedona is 10 miles to the north and Cottonwood is 9 miles to the south. If you’re looking for gas, propane, water or supplies head for Cottonwood. The Sedona traffic is heavy and everything is busier there. Cottonwood has a lot to offer. I got propane and gas at the Speedway station.
There is a store called The Water Store where you can fill your water containers. They have inside and outside fill available for after-hours visits. The prices are $.25 a gallon or 5 gallons for $1. That’s the same price I paid in Quartzsite. They also have ice and water containers. You can go inside and get a cart to bring your containers inside and they will even do the heavy lifting for you. I left with 19 gallons of water and a 10-pound bag of ice. There’s plenty of parking too.
There are two dump stations that I’m aware of in Cottonwood. One is at Galpin RV Sales. They allow dumping for a donation. They also have propane for sale. The second is at Dead Horse Ranch State Park although I couldn’t find any additional information on their website.
Things to do in the area
If you’re into hiking there are so many trails here you’ll never manage to fit them all in. Here are some of the most popular hikes.
We hit Sedona during spring break so everything was crowded and busy. We did two of the scenic drives but we were unable to find parking at the turnouts and didn’t have an opportunity to take photos.
What I Loved About Sedona Area Camping
The views were the best part of the experience here. No matter which direction you look there is a beautiful scene that changes throughout the day with the angle of the sun. The night sky was very dark and perfect for stargazing. Every morning there we several hot air balloons drifting along with the air currents.
I really enjoyed my stay here but the dust and dirt were particularly bad. All of the sites are right near the road and with all the fast-moving traffic, the dust is intense. The temperatures have been in the mid to upper 80s during my stay so open windows are a must. I just surrendered to the dust.
It’s a long, slow drive in and out for supplies but that’s all part of boondocking, right?
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