Safford, Arizona, which is close to the New Mexican border, provides some excellent boondocking opportunities. Highways 70 and 191 pass through Safford; if you’re looking to get off Interstate 10 to travel to or from New Mexico, a detour through Safford could be quite rewarding.
Camping opportunities abound in and around Safford, ranging from the cool, Ponderosa pines of Mount Graham to the banks of the Gila River and, of course, the desert.
When driving into Safford, the first thing you’ll notice are the cotton fields; the economy of Safford is based on “Copper, Cattle, and Cotton,” as the saying goes. A full-service city with a population of 10,000 people, Safford has everything you need, including a Walmart, a grocery store, an RV dealership, and a service center for recreational vehicles.
Consider spending a night or two at one of the town’s RV parks and checking out the boondocking opportunities with your truck or car before venturing into these areas on your own.
Hackle Road is a road in the city of Hackle.
Hackle Road, located seven miles east of Safford on Highway 70, is a Bureau of Land Management area. There is plenty of room for any size RV in this location. The area has excellent cell reception, and despite the fact that it is close to town, it appears to be quite a distance away. The ground is firm and level, and the locations are well separated from one another.
GPS coordinates: 32.7854, -109.6008
Recreational Area at Hot Well Dunes
As the name implies, this Bureau of Land Management area is a popular spot for off-roading on 2,000 acres of sand dunes and relaxing in a natural spring.
Also, as the name implies, if you are driving in with an RV, you should be extremely cautious about where you park because you obviously do not want to get stuck in the sand. In addition, there aren’t many places to turn around a large truck on the road leading into the recreation area, so if you can, check it out before you drive in.
GPS coordinates: 32.5205, -109.4407
Driving east on Highway 70 from Safford will take you seven miles. Follow Hackle Road for another 25 miles before making a right.
Tanque Road is a road in the city of Tanque.
Tanque Road is located south of Highway 191 in the direction of Mount Graham. The terrain is slightly hilly, but it is fairly accessible; however, be cautious because some areas are sandy, and if it rains, the ground becomes extremely muddy. The camping spots, on the other hand, are well separated and provide a great deal of privacy.
GPS coordinates: 32.6084, -109.6782
Mount Graham is a majestic mountain. The Coronado National Forest is dominated by Mount Graham, which is its focal point. The lower elevations are covered with pinyon and cedar, and the higher elevations are covered with a dense Ponderosa pine forest, which is a rare sight in the world. Riggs Flat Lake, which is 11 acres in size, can be found at the very top of the mountain.
Camping on Mount Graham is available for as little as free or as much as $10 per night, depending on the campground. Of course, due to the location in the mountains, access for larger RVs and cell service is somewhat limited. Check it out ahead of time if you have a larger rig or require cell service.
Hogg Canyon is a canyon in the United States of America.
A free parking lot located at the lower elevations of Mount Graham, just off Highway 266. However, the dirt roads in this area are extremely rough, and cell service is spotty at best. If you have a vehicle that is larger than a truck camper or van, proceed with caution.
GPS coordinates: 32.5767, -109.8527
Located in the Stockton Pass Campground.
This is a free service that is also located along Highway 266. The actual campsites, which include picnic tables and fire rings, are designed for tent campers and truck campers, while the surrounding area is not. However, you may be able to find a parking spot for a larger RV nearby.
GPS coordinates: 32.5917, -109.8503
Camping in the Columbine Dispersed Area
This one is also free, and the weather is pleasant and cool at an elevation of more than 8,000 feet. You could possibly get away with driving a medium-sized truck down a short, good dirt road in the vicinity. Although there is no cell service, there is no road access during the winter.
GPS coordinates: 32.698, -109.9121
Camping along the Gila River is a popular activity.
Riverview Campground is a campground located on the banks of the river.
This riverside campground is located approximately 20 miles from town, off Highway 191. It is only $5 per day. The only problem is that you’ll have to deal with 15 percent grades and tight, blind curves to get down there and back up again. It is possible for big rigs to make it, but unless you are extremely confident in your driving abilities and the condition of your rig, you may want to pass on it.
Once you arrive, the campground is clean and well-maintained, with cabanas, fire rings, and picnic tables, but you’ll be lucky if you can get any cell service.
GPS coordinates: 32.8874, -109.4797
Owl Creek Campground is a campground located in Owl Creek, California.
This is a very accessible campground with a daily rate of only $5 that is on the way to Clifton. It’s only 4 miles off Highway 191, and the dirt road is in excellent condition, as is the cell service. Walking down to the cottonwood-lined creek is a short distance. You’ll also be able to get good cell service in this area. There are seven parking spaces, each with a ramada and picnic tables.
GPS coordinates: 32.9664, -109.3073