While there are nearly countless camping options in the Southwest, they’re not always convenient to the trailhead, and amenities can be wide-ranging. Some campgrounds, such as on BLM land, offer nothing more than a spot on the desert floor, while others provide hot showers and a Wi-Fi signal. Whether your mountain biking camping objective is toughing it out or total relaxation, we’re here to help you find the perfect place to pitch your tent. Read on and start gearing up with our list of 8 great places to camp when mountain biking in the Southwest.
Free Camping In Sedona
1—Schnebly Hill Road (high-clearance 4x4 required)
If you have high-clearance four-wheel drive and love rowdy off-road adventures, head up Schnebly Hill Road to camp at the top for free. The views are incredible at sunset and sunrise, and you’ll only be a few miles from some of the area’s best riding. Trails including Hangover, Cow Pie, and more can be accessed from this spot.
Finding camping can be difficult in Sedona, so having the added barrier of needing a legit off-road vehicle increases your likelihood of finding free camping here. Aside from the vehicle requirements for access, just remember you’ll have to climb back up that 4x4 road to your campsite at the end of your singletrack shred session.
To get closer to trails like High Line and the Hogs, check out the free camping off of Beaver Flat Road, south of Oak Creek. There are no amenities here, but it’s free and close to everything, so get here early to snag a spot before it fills up.
3—Forest Road 525
If you don’t have four-wheel drive but want to camp for free, try FR 525 on the west side of town or Red Canyon Road just off SR 89a. These are also good spots if you’re seeking more XC-oriented trails.
Pro Tip For Free Sedona Camping
There’s a community pool in town with showers that only costs $3. Just bring your towel and some soap after your ride!
Cheap Camping In Sedona
If you’re feeling lucky or willing to reserve your campsite months in advance, one of the most ideal campgrounds in Sedona is Manzanita, a USFS campground that’s tent-camping only. The campground doesn’t allow any trailers or RVs, and 11 of the 14 sites are available for reservation, which stay booked solid. This place requires some planning ahead, but the creekside camping in a stunningly beautiful canyon is well worth it. Campsites are non-electric and a very reasonable $22 per night.
If you’re planning a big group trip to ride Sedona, this campground is located in the heart of Sedona and can accommodate groups ranging from 10-110 in size. If you don’t mind a lack of amenities like showers, Wi-Fi, or electrical hookups, this basic group camping spot is perfect. Vault toilets are all that’s available, but you can reserve the entire campground for only $235 per night or $80 per night for groups up to 30 people in size.
Silver Spring, New Mexico
6—Cherry Creek Campground, Gila National Forest
Sitting around 6,000’ in altitude, Silver Spring offers Southwest mountain biking with cooler temps in the summer, with high temps in the 80s and overnight lows in the 50s. If you’ve always wanted to ride some of the Continental Divide Trail, this is a good place to get a taste of what it’s all about. There are multiple access points to the CDT here, and the elevation isn’t quite as brutal as some other parts of the trail, making it one of the most approachable sections.
Cherry Creek is on a scenic section of the Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway about 14 miles north of town. The campground is located along NM Highway 15, surrounded by a dense mixed conifer forest, making it a cool place in the summer for camping. The camping here is free but has a 14-day stay limit and only one vault toilet, but it’s free.
7—Mesa Verde Resort - Cortez, Colorado
The full-amenities Mesa Verde Resort campground offers bargain comfort camping close to Phil’s World trail system in Cortez and not far from the numerous mountain biking trail systems in Durango.
Tent sites start at a very reasonable $30.95/night or $185.70/week and include free Wi-Fi, electric hookups, a water supply with dish cleaning area, a pool, two hot tubs, and a clean bathhouse with hot showers. If you’re seeking a low-cost alternative to a hotel but don’t want to skimp on creature comforts, this is a fantastic choice in the area.
8—Junction Creek Campground - Durango, Colorado
Located only 5 miles northwest of Durango, Junction Creek Campground is right on the CDT and in the center of everything. This campground makes a perfect base camp for mountain biking in the San Juan National Forest. There are four camping loops with 44 campsites in total, including 29 reservable sites and 14 sites with electrical hook-ups. There’s also one group campsite that accommodates up to 50 people for only $100 per night (by reservation only).
There’s only a vault toilet and no showers—so it’s no 5-star resort—but the pricing is hard to beat for scoring accommodations as central to everything as this campground. Standard tent sites are only $24 per night, and electric hookup sites are $35 per night.
Easy Navigation From Road To Trail
Whether you’re navigating down the road to the next destination or down the trail to the next junction, Rokform makes it easy to keep your next turn in plain sight. Our Rugged Case not only keeps your phone safe from drops when you’re riding in the desert, but it also provides two secure mounting options. You can mount your phone on your windshield with our magnetic windshield suction cup mount or our quarter-turn Roklock Bike Mount that securely holds your phone on the roughest of trails.