New designated dispersed camping sites to be implemented west of Sedona

Release Date: May 12, 2022

Contact(s): Red Rock Ranger District & Visitor Center 928-203-2900

SEDONA, Ariz., May 12, 2022 – In partnership with the National Forest Foundation, Coconino National Forest is excited to announce the signing of a decision memo that designates specific areas for dispersed camping and day-use sites in west Sedona that will preserve and protect the entire area from overuse and negative impacts.

Signed by Red Rock District Ranger Amy Tinderholt, the West Sedona Designated Dispersed Camping and Day-use Areas Decision Memo allows for the first phase of construction to begin immediately. The first part of implementation will begin with construction and installation of information kiosks, signage, and boulder placement to block off user-created roads and campsites, while delineating specific areas for parking and legal dispersed camping. These preparatory activities will take place over the next several months.

“After years of planning and many meetings with residents, the City of Sedona, recreation-based businesses, and many stakeholders, we are proud to see so many efforts come to fruition and finally begin implementing this new endeavor,” said District Ranger Tinderholt. “This will help balance the use of this area, curb impacts to the land, protect natural resources and private property, while providing areas for visitors to enjoy camping.”

When installation of signage and placement of boulders is complete, a Forest Order will be put in place that prohibits dispersed camping and campfires in the 32,130-acre area that makes up most of the national forest in west Sedona. This aims to keep campers in the eight designated areas, reduce violations of the 14-day stay limit, protect the fragile desert landscape by prohibiting visitors from creating their own dispersed campsites and campfires, while also keeping them from trespassing on private land.

The district’s goal and plan are for the new Forest Order to be signed and new designated dispersed camp system to be ready for use by the end of August.

Once the Forest Order is in place, campers and recreationists visiting Coconino National Forest in the area of Forest Road 525 will be able to use and camp in eight designated dispersed camping areas comprised of nearly 36 acres that accommodate about 10-35 campsites in each area, totaling 150-200 campsites—depending on the size of the vehicle, trailer, or RV.

These first-come, first-served campsite areas will be accessed via state Route 89A, with five of those areas located along the popular access Forest Road 525, while two others are located along FR 89B, and the final area on FR 9570A. Four day-use parking areas and four information sites along these forest roads will also be designated.

Forest Order has been in place since 1999 that prohibits camping and campfires on 50,520 acres of the district. With the addition of another Forest Order covering west Sedona, camping and campfires will be prohibited on an additional 32,130 acres, encompassing a total of 82,650 acres where camping and campfires will not be allowed.

“Meeting our August goal will depend on weather and a number of other factors,” said District Recreation Staff Officer Chris Johansen. “But we’re confident of this timeline and excited to begin implementing something that has been needed for some years now.”

Violations of the Code of Federal Regulations, including Forest Orders, campfire restrictions, and closures such as this can carry a fine of up to $5,000 and/or six months in jail.

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