Flagstaff, Arizona Campsite: A-1 Mtn Rd

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My camp on A-1 Mountain Road under the shadow Mt. Humphrey, the tallest mountain in AZ.

My camp on A-1 Mountain Road under the shadow of Mt. Humphrey, the tallest mountain in AZ.

Somehow I got out of the habit of posting reports of my campsites and I’m not sure why. I follow a lot of other Full-Time vandweller and RVer blogs and one of their posts that I always enjoy is reviews and pictures of their campsites. In fact I use them as a resource so that if I’m going to be in their area I always go back and search for their campsites so I know where to go. Campsite reports are very helpful for everybody so I intend to get back in the habit and do more of them.
Looking at my "front yard"! Cody loves the grass because their are mice and lizards living in it for him to chase!

Looking out at my “front yard”! Cody loves the grass because their are mice and lizards living in it for him to chase! He’s even a caught a few. 

I have fallen totally in love with Arizona. It’s one of the few states where you have such an extreme difference of temperatures. In the winter Yuma is one of the warmest places in the country and in the summer you can drive less than 300 miles and be at 8000 feet and a very comfortable temperature all summer. But the reason I love it here more than any other, is the knock-your-socks-off sunsets. I’m hopelessly addicted to them!
UMMMMM, yummy mice!!!!!!

UMMMMM, yummy mice!!!!!!

One of my favorite places for a summer camp is around Flagtaff, AZ where I am now. It has many advantages:

  1. Flagstaff is a medium size city that has all the shopping anyone could need.
  2. It has a very large University so it has a great feel of excitement and freshness. Unfortunately that also means the traffic can be bad–avoid drive times!
  3. It’s surrounded by three different National Forests that are full of beautiful Ponderosa Pines and is a very pretty area. That means you can move between them fairly easily to extend your stay.
  4. It’s within an hours drive of two of the most beautifully spectacular places on the planet: 1) the Grand Canyon 2) Sedona.
  5. It’s biggest advantage is you can camp within 5 miles of Flagstaff!

Because I am leaving here soon I want to give you a report on one of my favorite campsites just up A-1 Mountain Road, literally 5 from the heart of Flagstaff . It’s in the beautiful Coconino NF and it has the tallest mountain in Arizona as a backdrop; Mt Humphrey.

It's almost all Ponderosa Pine, but there are a few Aspen to turn colors now that's fall.

It’s almost all Ponderosa Pine, but there are a few Aspen to turn colors now that it’s fall.

Best Camp Ever?
Because it’s late October I haven’t seen a Ranger yet; but I’ve been here for awhile so rather than push my luck and get into trouble I’m moving camps soon. But before I do I want to let you know about it. It’s a running joke between Judy and I that every time we change camps I gush about the new one and say “This is the best camp we’ve ever had!”  but honestly, this is one of the best! Really!
I like being close to good shopping and this is one of the best ever. It is also very beautiful! We are camped in front of a large grassy field surrounded by stately Ponderosa Pine. Below us is a slight slope so we get a view off into the distance. But the best thing is Mt Humphrey behind us, it’s gorgeous!
The weather ha benn very, very good here. I get plenty of solar because the sin hits the van early in the morning and throughout the day.

The weather has been very, very good here.Pleasant days and cool nights.  I get plenty of solar because the sun hits the van early in the morning and continues throughout the day; I lose it to this tree about 3:30 pm.

Weather:
Although I am at 7300 feet here, in the spring it can get pretty warm, high 80s or low 90s, but when the monsoons hit in July it cools off and stays a very comfortable temperature for the rest of the summer. The monsoons can be very rainy! Last summer was extremely rainy and it was actually miserable. But all the locals say that was very unusual and it almost never rains that much. This year has been much more typical with occasional thunderstorms and rain but not continual. I think it’s a good trade off to get occasional rain in exchange for perfect temperatures.
I’m also told that it is usually colder than this by the end of October, this is an uncommonly warm fall. So you need to be aware that this area gets a true four seasons and that the winter are normally pretty nice, but they can be brutal. It snows every winter but sometimes the get hit with snowstorms with strong winds and up to four feet of snow. Don’t plan on camping here through the winter! Pan to head down to the desert just a few hours away.
This is Forest Road 506, my camp is just behind the trees to the left.

This is Forest Road 506, my camp is just behind the trees to the left. This is the narrowest spot on the road. For the most part it’s wide enough for two vehicles to pass easily

Directions to Camp:
I really like this camp and recommend it to you. To get here you just need to get on I-40 and drive toward Flagstaff. The main Exit into Flagg is 195 (where I-17 from Phoenix runs into Flagstaff). A-1 Mountain Road is  off Eit 190, so it;s just 5 miles west of Flagg. Once you turn off the freeway onto A-1, you want to go straight ahead on the pavement until it ends. You’ll see a sign that marks this is Forest Road 506. The camp I’m at is exactly 1.1 miles from where the pavement ends. The road curves around through the forest and then climbs above it into a fairly wide open area. Starting here you will see many little dirt roads that go off to the right into the forest. You can pull over and camp at any of these! You can be right on the road and be visible to anyone driving by, or you can follow the road into the forest and be invisible from the  road. That choice is yours. Be aare that in the rain many of the small side-roads will become impassable mud.
We've had several spectacular sunsets!

We’ve had several spectacular sunsets!

Enforcement:
Coconino NF is famous for it’s strict enforcement so you want to be careful. You’ll want to get a map of the forest because the road continues on and wanders around for a long ways and there are many side roads that go off of it that you can take and camp on. There is virtually unlimited camping here and it’s easy to get far from the main road and probably not be seen by a Ranger all summer. It also has the advantage of being only 5 miles away from the Kaibab NF so that you can move back and forth every 14 days and stay legal.
If you’ve followed the blog for long you know that at one time this was one of the worst areas for unfair enforcement in the whole country. They were doing what I consider to be ridiculous things! However, I believe that they got so much negative feedback that they are no longer doing that. Everyone I’ve heard from said they were just doing the normal enforcement of the 14 day rule. I think it’s now safe to come back here as long as you follow the rules.
I hope you enjoyed these photos and I encourage you to come and experience the place for yourself! There is a map to the site at the very bottom of the post.
Judy left for work at Amazon on Friday the 17th, and this was the sunset of  Thursday the 16th. I told here it was Arizona's way of  wishing her well and to come back soon.

Judy left for work at Amazon on Friday the 17th, and this was the sunset of Thursday the 16th. I told here it was Arizona’s way of wishing her well and to come back soon. Sunsets like this are routine here, which is why I will always spend my winters in Arizona!

Flagg-A-1- camp-map-001
 

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52 Comments

  1. Wayne (Wirs)

    I just want to second what Bob says about this possibly being one of the best camping areas. I’ve been here probably a month, dropped in on Bob a few times, and have made camp in at least 5 different spots here, all wonderful. Once you hit A-1 Mountain road and leave the pavement, you’ll find lots of free campsites (with excellent 4G Verizon).

    • Bob

      Thanks Wayne! Nice to have you for a neighbor!
      Bob

  2. Douglas

    Been up to the area many times. The last time was in a challenger, those are dirt rod unfriendly

    • Bob

      Dougla, for the most part these roass are very good. No problem for even low-slung cars.
      Bob

  3. Tom

    Thanks Bob, I was wondering if you might be camping incognito due to the Rangers – like hear about the campsites you find.

    • Bob

      Actually I am trying to keep a lower profile, but I could still post about them after I move. I just got busy and stopped doing it, No excuses!
      Bob

  4. David Carter

    It’s good to see a pic of Cody.

    • Bob

      David, I need to get more of them up on the blog!
      Bob

  5. Shawna

    Thank you for being so willing to share your knowledge of campsites AND posting all those beautiful photos. What happens if you get busted for some infraction when out there camping? Do they ticket you?

    • Bob

      Shawna, tickets are rarely issued, usually you are just given a warning and told to move one. However, the Coconino NF had a very bad reputation for giving unfair tickets last year and they got a lot of negative feedback for it. It appears they have stopped.
      Bob

  6. Richard Muller

    Any idea how ATT cell service is out there? Or TMobile? It’s a beautiful area — I used to live up there. Is camping there illegal in some way, aside from the 14-day limit?
    Rich

    • Bob

      Richard, I’m sorry i don’t have an ATT device to check it with, so I don’t know. No camping is legal here as long as you obey the 14 days. Last year the Coconino NF was at war with all campers. They would interrogate you and if they thought you were a full-time RVers or homeless they would ticket you for residential use of the forest. But they got so much flack because of it that they appear to have given that up. At least that’s the way it appears to me.
      Bob

      • Richard Muller

        Is that a typo? You said “no camping is legal” Also, I have a smallish RV (24 ft). Would this be more likely to attract unwanted attention than a van-type rig?
        When I lived in Flagstaff the service from what is now Verizon was superior. I now live in Tucson and have an ATT cell phone and a T-Mobile Hot Spot.

        • Bob

          Hi Richard, I need the context I said that in. I’m such a big-mouth I can’t remember everything I write!
          No, being in a van verses an RV doesn’t change anything. Legal camping is open to everybody no matter what you are in. Of course it has a big impact in the city, but not out on Public Land.
          You will find it’s size limits you from going down some Forest roads, but there are plenty of camping spots you can get to.
          Bob

    • Al Christensen

      From my experience in the general area last year, AT&T reception is marginal. I used to drive to McDonald’s every morning you use their wifi.

      • Bob

        We had the summer RTR here in 2013 and if I remember right those with ATT had nothing. So you are confirming my memory. Just 5 miles from a big city and ATT has nothing but Verizon has 4g!
        ATT sucks and Verizon Rules!
        Bob

        • jonthebru

          need that “like” button!

        • Al Christensen

          On the other hand, I’ve been some place in rural Utah were all I could get was AT&T. Go figure.

          • Bob

            Yeah, there are some places where ATT works and Verizon doesn’t. In Alaska ATT is very strong and Verizon really sucks.
            But it’s so rare that I wouldn’t pay any money for the the very poor service Verizon offers.
            Bob

  7. ShastaNan

    You are so generous with your knowledge and time. Thank you for putting so much positive energy out into the boondocking world.

    • Bob

      ShastaNan, you are very welcome. It really is my pleasure.
      Bob

  8. Ruby Lee

    Thanks, Bob, for keeping me inspired.!! I hope to meet you in Quartzsite. No van or camper yet. I’m just studying all the options. Will be driving my little suv and bringing a tent. Meeting friends there.

    • Bob

      Ruby Lee, I think you will have a great time! It’s so beautiful there and you will meet some amazing people! See you then!
      Bob

  9. Nelda

    I love it when Bob says “I just got busy”.
    You make me laugh, Bob. Enjoy the sunsets. See ya soon.
    Nelda

    • Bob

      I can’t wait to see you and Jerry! It’s been too long! The forecast is for a very mild and pleasant winter her!
      Bob

  10. CAE

    I spent the last two weeks with employees if the national forest service. They said they know people use the 14 day rule to move around but not leave. They said as long as people kept a low profile, no one cared too much.

    • Bob

      CAE, I think that’s true in most places. They have a tough job to do and are usually very under-manned so they do the essentials and leave it at that. Being late October I haven’t seen a Ranger yet. I guess they think the cold will take care of any problems! Most years that’s true! There is almost no one else here, I guess they think it’ll be too cold. But it has been an unusually warm fall. I’m staying very warm!
      Bob

  11. Joe

    Thanks for the write-up and pictures of your campsite. Seems like it is a great place. I like your reports of campsites, especially when you have the various categories and numerical ratings

    • Bob

      Thanks Joe. You’ve been reading for a while, I haven’t used that in a while. I guess I should start again!
      Bob

  12. Steve

    Bob,
    I had to respond. First off, I’m glad you found a new canine friend. Reading your posts about Homer brought tears to my old eyes. I too am a dog man, having given up on human companionship a long time ago. I’ve had five wonderful dog friends in my time. Nickolas is with me now. I met him at a shelter and we’ve been together every day since, as you and Homer were. I’ve been reading your blog for about 6 months now and am looking forward to retirement and coming to Arizona sometime next year. I am outfitting my Subaru Forester and using your blog for information on just about every aspect of the on-the-road life. I can’t THANK YOU enough for the information and encouragement. I hope to see you somewhere along the line. Don’t worry though, I love my solitude as much as you do yours

    • Bob

      Steve, It’s my pleasure to bring as much help and inspiration as I can to those looking for a new life. I’m just glad I was able to help. I’m usually in Arizona from Sepetmeber on, when you get here look me up! My camp is always open!
      Bob

  13. Terry

    Bob, you found my Shangri-La. LUCY and I really enjoyed camping here:)

    • Bob

      Great minds think alike, right Terry!
      Bob

  14. LaVonne Ellis

    The summer RTR at Flagstaff last year was my first experience of camping, and I LOVED it there! I probably won’t make it there before going to Q, though, because of finances so it’s good to see pics and reminisce. Is that the same spot we wer at? Cody is a cutie! See you in Q/Ehrenberg for Thanksgiving. 🙂

    • Bob

      LaVonne, no, it’s about 1/4 mile before you get to the spot of the RTR. It’s a lot more open so I get a view and more sun for the solar panels.
      See you soon!
      Bob

  15. Bryce

    Moved to Ehrenberg AZ today. Very nice here. Tshirt and shorts weather. Wayne is already here too. I am camped in my spot from last year. Lots of great shady camping spots uphill from me.

    • Bob

      It’s gonna get hot down there for the rest of the week and cool down for the weekend. I’m still happy here in Flagg.
      Are you in the same spot as the last time we were there or over by Steve’s favorite spot? Is Steve with you and in the spot he wanted?
      It looks like I won’t get there until the end of November, but I will be there by Nov 21 at the latest. Got to supervise you guys for Thanksgiving dinner!! You know you can’t do it without me!! 🙂 For you readers, that’s a joke, they do NOT need my help!)
      Bob

  16. Pam Melotte

    Hi Bob followed your blog for a while now. We have lived in AZ for over 30 yrs and love it. We are managing campgrounds in northern az and there are lots of disperased camping in the area. Specifically around the N rim of the Grand Canyon. You should check it out…Beautiful!

    • Bob

      Pam, I prefer the south rim because it has much better internet, although it isn’t very good, it’s better than the North Rim. I can’t be without the internet.
      Bob

  17. Marivic

    Hi Bob. I’ve been there in Arizona but I never been to flagstaff. I will visit there along with my child.

    • Bob

      Marivic, it’s one of my favorite places in Arizona! I think you will enjoy it.
      Bob

  18. Douglas

    When I was up near pine off of the mogollon rim, it didn’t seem to be all that cold. It was cold for a guy who is more of a desert rat, but not enough to be much jacket weather, a fire helped a lot. I spent some time with some old friends and some family.

  19. Douglas

    I love northern az, but really love the whole state, the desert has it’s own beauty. I’ve lived in the central az desert my whole life. I have grown somewhat comfortable running around the desert around phoenix.

  20. Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets

    Howdy Bob! We’re still tethered to a home we are leasing here in Apple Valley, CA. Busy installing solar on our 32 ft. Bounded. We want to do mostly knocking in areas like where you are presently and the likes of Utah. Hopefully, we won’t be too large for most places. We’ll need to choose locations more carefully I’m thinking, but it is what it is.
    Thank you for the generosity of your experience and knowledge, as well as your camp info. Greatly appreciated.

  21. Ed H.

    Any particular reason why my comment can’t get posted? I sent one earlier. Didn’t make the cut.

    • Bob

      ED, I’m sorry, it’s waiting for me to give it permission and I’m running behind. It shouldn’t happen again.
      Bob

  22. Kim

    Just started reading this blog today.
    Very inspirational,thanks!!

    • Bob

      Kim, we’re glad you’re here!!
      Bob

  23. joe english

    Incredible. Gives me so much inspiration. I am a cancer survivor and lost my left lung. Lucky. I don’t seem to miss it. Need to really start living. While I was in the hospital I thought I was going to die. I could only think of all the adventures and wonderful places I would miss experiencing. And most important the incredible people I would meet. I am ready at 65 to start a new life. Just me and my little dog. I may run in to you somewhere this summer. Thanks for the inspiration. Joe

    • Bob

      Joe, sometimes it takes a brush with death to get our attention and get us to jump headlong into life. Come on in, the waters fine!
      My camp is always open to you!
      Bob

  24. Damien

    Any chance of getting coordinates for this camp? I looked on Google maps satellite and there are several roads branching off. Thanks

    • Bob

      Damien, that’s a good idea because it is a spiderweb of little roads back there. I’ll see what I can do.
      Bob

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