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Camping on Humphreys Peak

Situated in the camping-friendly climate of northern Arizona, the area around Humphreys Peak is an excellent place to pitch a tent and spent a few nights under the stars. While camping at the top of Humphreys Peak is technically not allowed, there are a number of nearby campsites that you can use after a fun day of hiking Humphreys Peak. 

If you’re interested in camping on Humphreys Peak, this article will tell you everything you need to know:

  • The best times of year to go camping 
  • The best camping spots 
  • Prices for different campgrounds
  • Availability of different campgrounds
  • Restrictions at different campgrounds
  • Directions to different campgrounds

When to Camp at Humphreys Peak

While you can camp in the Humphreys Peak area all year round, the best times to go camping are in the summer and early fall. The weather is best during June, July, August, and September, so try to plan your trip to Humphreys Peak during these time periods. 

Although these are the best times to go to Humphreys Peak weather-wise, some campgrounds are only open during the spring. If you want to stay at one of these campgrounds, you’ll need to adjust your expectations and travel dates accordingly. 

If you’re traveling any time between late fall and early spring, you need to be wary of the substantial amount of snowfall the area around Humphreys Peak usually gets. The snow and accompanying cold temperatures can make your camping trip uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. 

If you do decide to go camping at Humphreys Peak in this colder season, make sure to bring clothing, a sleeping bag, and a tent that can withstand the snow, cold temperatures, and icy wind chills. 

Lockett Meadow campground

Lockett Meadow is a spacious, picturesque place to pitch a tent near Humphreys Peak. 

Scenery

While the campground is light on amenities, the secluded location in the depths of the Arizona wilderness provide an authentic camping experience that few locations can match. Campers here stand a good chance of seeing an elk, porcupine, and even black bear making their way through the meadow.

One of the highlights of camping in Lockett Meadow is the terrific view of the San Francisco Peaks that it offers. These peaks are remnants of a long-extinct volcano that blew its top millions of years ago, leaving behind four of the tallest mountains in all of Arizona.

Avid hikers will particularly enjoy the easy access to the Inner Basin Trail, which winds into the center of the inactive volcano. A smattering of wild flowers accent the barren rock with touches of blue and yellow. This trail is a highlight of the Humphreys Peak area ‒ you won’t want to miss it.

Pricing 

While off-season camping is free, you do need to pay to enter and camp in the meadow during the spring on-season dates. The campsite costs $17 per night for up to 8 people. If you have more than 8 people in your party, you’ll need to pay for another campsite. There’s also a charge for additional vehicles ‒ if you bring more than one car, the campground will charge $8 for each vehicle you bring. And although this article is about camping, you should know that a daytime visit to the campground will cost $8 per vehicle (up to 5 people).

There is a 50% price discount on offer fees for people who hold Senior or Access Interagency passes. These are the only kinds of Interagency passes accepted for discounts though.

Availability 

If you want to camp here, there’s no need to make a reservation or anything. The entire campground operates on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Usage of this campground gets pretty high in the on-season months though, so try to get there on the earlier side if you want to best spots. There are only 17 single unit sites available for use, and these tend to fill up quickly. 

Restrictions

There are a few rules you need to follow when camping at Lockett Meadow. First of all, there are strict quiet hours that all campers must adhere to. Between 10 p.m. and 6 p.m., no loud noises are permitted. This includes running generators, music, yelling, or any other sounds that might disturb the other campers. 

The Lockett Meadow campground also follows a strict Leave No Trace policy. If you camp here, you need to make sure you pick up after yourself and take all of your garbage and belongings with you when you leave. Here are a few tips that should help you adhere to this policy: 

  • Prepare to take everything with you. Bring garbage bags, storage containers, and other supplies that will make picking up after yourself quick and easy. 
  • Leave No Trace doesn’t just apply to picking up your trash. You should also leave anything natural exactly where you found it. Don’t take rocks or plants as souvenirs. No matter how beautiful they may be, they belong in the forest ‒ not in your car. 
  • Restrict your campfires to designated campfire sites. Burn marks from overactive fires can mar the pristine landscape, and starting fires outside of designated areas brings the risk of sparking forest fires. 
  • Give space and respect to any wildlife you encounter. These creatures are a part of the natural environment, and antagonizing them would be an indirect violation of the Leave No Trace policy.

On top of these primary restrictions, there are also some other restrictions you need to know about:

  • If there is a forest fire risk, campfires may be restricted in the campsite.
  • Drinking water is not available at this campsite. You’ll need to bring your own source of water.
  • Horses are not permitted in the Lockett Meadow campground or on the Inner Basin trail.
  • Mountain bikes are not allowed in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness, which the Lockett Meadow campground is a part of.
  • ATVs and motorbikes are only allowed if you’re using them as transportation to enter or leave a campsite. You can’t freely ride around the forest on them. And if you do bring one, it needs to be street-legal. 
  • You can stay in the campground for a maximum of 14 days. After this, you need to pack up and leave. 
  • You can bring pets to the campground, but they need to be kept on a leash at all times. Roaming pets are a nuisance to other campers, and they might even be in danger of attack from the bears that roam the area.
  • RVs and trailers are allowed, but you will have a tough time getting them up the rocky, single-lane dirt road that leads to the campground.

Directions 

The campground is located 15 miles north of Flagstaff, making it an easy trip for people staying in the high-altitude town. 

To get to the campground from Flagstaff, you’ll want to follow these directions:

  • Take Highway 89 from the northeastern part of the town. Ride this for 12.5 miles until you reach Forest Road 552.
  • Take a left onto Forest Road 552 and travel for about 1 mile.
  • Turn right when you reach the Lockett Meadow sign. Make your way to the campground via the dirt road. 
  • If you come during late fall or early spring, this road will be closed because of snowfall. 

Freidlein Prairie Dispersed Camping 

The Freidlein Prairie Dispersed Camping area consists of 14 sites along a forested road.

Scenery 

Unlike the designated forest area in which the Lockett Meadow campground is located, the Freidlein Prairie camping area is located alongside Freidlein Prarie Road. 

Despite the proximity to the road, the campsites here are still quite beautiful. Plenty of shade is provided by the assorted trees, and birds and other types of animals are plentiful.

Pricing

Camping at one of the spots along this road is completely free. There are no camping fees, vehicle fees, or visitor fees to deal with. 

The main reason for this is the total lack of amenities. The only reason this is considered a campground is because of the cleared camping spots and close proximity to Humphreys Peak.

Availability 

The campsites along Freidlein Prairie Road are open for use all year round. The optimal time to use them is during the summer months, though finding an open spot can be hard due to the popularity of Humphreys Peak during the summer season.

You can’t make a reservation for any of these campsites. They also operate on a first-come, first-served basis, so make sure to arrive earlier in the day to secure yourself a spot.

Restrictions 

These campsites also have a Leave No Trace policy, although no one is really around to enforce it. If you do camp here, please respect this policy and do everything you can to clean up after yourself and respect the pristine environment in which you are staying.

Campfires are allowed at these campsites, but you once again need to restrict your fire usage to the designated campfire rings. Wood for your fire can be retrieved from fallen branches and trees at least 100 yards away from the campsite. While there is wood present closer than that, the Arizona Forest Service asks that you stick to further sources, as the foliage surrounding the sites would quickly be depleted.

If you do plan on starting a fire, make sure to bring a shovel and about 15 extra gallons of water with you to safely extinguish the fire. Also know that burning garbage, human waste, and toilet paper is prohibited. 

Heightened forest fire risk may prevent you from starting campfires during certain times of the year. You can also bring a gas-operated fire source if it has an on/off switch. 

At each of the 14 campsites, you’ll find a fiberglass sign that says “Camp within 50 feet of this post to reduce impact to forest vegetation. Please take all of your trash with you and leave only one fire ring.” Please follow the directions on this sign, as doing so will ensure the campsites remain free and open to the public for many years to come.

Most of the campsites are relatively small, so RV drivers will have difficulty parking safely. If you want to camp in your RV, I recommend choosing a different campground. In fact, most of the sites are so small that they can only accommodate two mid-size vehicles.

Directions 

The road on which these campsites are located branches off of Snowbowl Road, which is north of Flagstaff. To reach the Freidlein Prairie Dispersed Camping area from Flagstaff, follow these instructions:

  • Take US 180 north from Flagstaff for 7 miles. 
  • You should see a sign for Snowbowl Road at this point ‒ turn into the road. 
  • Travel for about two and a quarter miles until you reach Forest Road 522, which is where the campsites are situated. 
  • The campsites start appearing a quarter mile after you turn off of Snowbowl Road. All but two of the campsites are located on the southern side of the road.

Bonito Campground 

Bonito Campground is a bit farther from Humphreys Peak than the other campground mentioned thus far, but it’s a solid alternative if you can’t find any spots at the other locations.

Scenery 

Of all the campgrounds in the Humphreys Peak area, Bonito Campground is definitely the most intriguing. Named after the Bonito Lava Flow that made its way through this plain over 900 years ago, the remains of this fiery event make the landscape seem almost alien in nature. 

No matter where you look around the campground, you’re bound to see some truly awesome rock formations that capture how the lava looked when it hardened into stone. These formations are so unique and rare that part of the campground has actually been incorporated into the Sunset Crater National Monument. 

This campground is also located near Wuptaki National Monument, which is a beautiful site with an ancient native american house built almost a century ago. 

The campsites themselves are situated in a beautiful forest of ponderosa pine trees. 

Pricing

Camping at Bonito Campground costs $25 per night for a vehicle of up to 8 people. If you bring additional vehicles with additional people in them, it’ll cost $8 per extra car. 

If you come for the day and don’t plan on spending the night, the Forest Service charges $8 for a car of up to five people. You would need to be out of the campground by 4 p.m. though ‒ the price gets bumped up to $25 if you aren’t.

Like Lockett Meadow, Bonito Campground also allows you to use Senior and Access Interagency passes to chop the price by 50%. Interagency passes that aren’t Senior or Access won’t be accepted though. 

While the price is a bit higher than Lockett Meadow, Bonito has some amenities that Lockett Meadow lacks. For starters, you’ll have access to drinking water when staying at a Bonito campsite. You’ll also have access to flush toilets, one of which is handicap-accessible. 

Availability 

Bonito Campground’s open season occurs during the springtime. It is a popular campground with no reservations, so take that into consideration when deciding on an arrival time.

With 44 single unit campsites available, Bonito has about three times the capacity as Lockett Meadow. This campground is also more luxurious than Lockett, as it’s stocked with fire rings, cooking grills, fresh drinking water, flush toilets, paved roads, and multiple educational sites for learning about the history and ecology of the area. 

Restrictions 

Bonito Campground has many of the same restrictions Lockett Meadow has. 

  • You can’t make loud noises between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. This includes running generators, partying, playing music, and anything else that might disturb the other campers. 
  • The Leave No Trace policy is also in effect here. Make sure you don’t disturb the animals or environment, and  take all of your garbage and belongings with you when you leave. 
  • No group campsites are available for use. 
  • You can use trailers, motor homes, and tents that are less than 42 feet in size. 
  • You can stay a maximum of 14 days in the campground. 
  • Pets are allowed, but they must remain on a leash at all times. 
  • Horses are not allowed anywhere in the campground.
  • Motorbikes and ATVs may only be used for entering or leaving your campsite. You cannot take them out on joyrides in the forest, and they must be street-legal to be admitted.
  • There are no utility hookups, so make sure to bring your own generator when 

Directions 

Bonito Campground is located 18 miles to the northeast of Flagstaff. To get there from Flagstaff, use the following directions:

  • Get on US Highway 89 and travel for 12 miles. 
  • When you come to Forest Road 545, turn right. This will be taking you in the direction of Sunset Crater. 
  • Drive 2 miles down FR545 until you come to the entrance to Bonito Campground. The entrance is located just before the entrance to Sunset Crater National Monument ‒ so if you hit the Monument entrance, you’ve gone too far. 

What To Do At Humphreys Peak - Recapture Nature

Friday 15th of November 2019

[…] No trip to Humphreys Peak would be complete without spending a night or two under the stars. The beautiful environment and generally moderate temperatures near the base of the mountain make Humphreys Peak an excellent area to camp in.  […]