After camping at the Grand Canyon, we decided to head towards Flagstaff to check out the area. We found an amazing free campsite near a Naval Observatory, located within the Coconino National Forest.
The GPS coordinates for the exact spot that we stayed are 35.187139,-111.734325. Click here to open in Google Maps.
There are, however, multiple spots to camp along this road and further down.
We made it to our site with no problem (other than the melting snow causing some large puddles along the road in), but access is somewhat limited for larger rigs
One thing we like about this free campsite is the fact that it is only 7 miles from downtown Flagstaff, which served as a great opportunity for us to stock up on food and supplies.
The road you will take to get to this area is Observatory Access Road. You will drive 1.6 miles down this road, then take a left turn onto the dirt road.
BEWARE: If you miss the turn in, there is a sign immediately after stating “AUTHORIZED PERSONS ONLY BEYOND THIS POINT”. This is government property, and there is not an area to turn around if you miss the turn.
We camped here for 2 days in late January, so naturally there was snow on the ground. The temperature was around 55 degrees each day, melting some of said snow, which caused the road in to be very wet and sloppy.
We tried 3 other National Forest camping areas first, and they were all either closed or inaccessible due to the snow melt.
The beautiful Ponderosa pines and abundant sunshine made for a serene and peaceful camping experience. The temperatures did drop into the 20’s at night, so we made sure that our propane tanks were full prior to arriving.
We enjoyed doing some hiking, running around with the dogs, and playing in the snow during our stay.
This free campsite is one that we will surely return to someday, maybe in the summer next time!