Forest Road #92 to Gardner Canyon is easy to find.
Whether driving northbound or southbound on Route 83, you’ll see a big sign pointing to Gardner Canyon. You can’t miss it. It’s a few miles south of the entrance to Las Cienegas National Conservation Area where the crew and I are presently camped.
I’d like to show you where you can camp for free on the road to Gardner Canyon.
If you have a big rig with a toad car, you might want to park and then take the car up the road to choose a site.
As I type this the road is in washboard condition, so take it slow, especially if towing or driving your rig.
An annual recreation permit is $15 for an individual; an “immediate family unit” permit is $20 annually.
Of course, these fees are subject to change. For information how to obtain a permit, follow this link to the Arizona Land Department website.
Or you can forget about a permit and bypass the state land!
Campsites beyond this sign are marked numerically on a post and are free for public use, subject to a 14-day limit.
Bridget and Reggie help me explore each campsite.
Originally a pull-through, wear and tear have exposed rocks which means you enter from either end and then there’s room to turn around on either side of the campsite. It’s like a double site, with a fire ring on each side.
As you can see, the site has shade and also full sun.
One could say it’s on a short spur road. The spur leads to a copse of mature oak trees. Fire rings are scattered over a large area, room enough for several rigs or for you alone. In back of the site is a dry river bed which I imagine turns into a mighty stream during monsoon season.
Look at the size of this campsite!
The third site is also pretty and large.
More magnificent oak trees. You can camp in the shade or in full sun. Plenty of room!
You could use this as your base for exploring Sonoita, Patagonia, Parker Canyon Lake, Sierra Vista, Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, plus Gardner Canyon and the hiking trails of the Santa Rita Mountains.
Or use a campsite in a dispersed camping area of Las Cienegas NCA, which is what the crew and I are doing.
As best I can tell, they are kept away from the campsites by cattle guards and fence. I didn’t see cow plops in the sites.
This may mean the sites fill up during rodeo or peak trail-riding season. Also people haul trailers of ATVs here.
There are no facilities.
No vault toilets, water, or trash pick-up. Five Coronado National Forest dispersed campsites in all.
“You had fun, didn’t you! ”
The road rolls over small, grassy hills dotted with mesquite trees and a few oaks.
I drive far enough to take a photo of a sign that indicates the trails ahead.
These are popular trails. If you’d like more information, the Experience Arizona website gives details about the trails and includes photos.
If you’ve read much of my blog, you know the crew and I are walkers, rather than hikers.
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