Boondocking Site Review – Gunsight Wash BLM, Why, AZ
A pretty and easy boondocking spot around 2 miles south of Why, AZ in southern Arizona
Location: Gunsight Wash, approx 2 miles south of Why, AZ on Hwy 85
Coordinates: Entry to gunsight wash approx. 32.238105,-112.751037. Link to map location HERE
Cost: FREE (14-day stay limit)
How We Found It: We had heard about this area from other RV bloggers who stayed here and also found the site on freecampsites.net.
Nearest Dump/Water: $10 for dump/water at Coyote Howls RV Park just up the road in Why, AZ
- Access – 4/5
Very easy access here for any-sized rig with just a very few dings. The entry to Gunsight wash is located on the right hand-side just past milemarker 55 on Hwy 85 south (look for a large dirt clearing directly after the bridge). Once inside you’ll cross a gate and see the camphost. Stop here to register for your free 14-day pass (Note/ As of Feb 2015 several blog readers have reported there is NO longer any campsite host here. See comments below the post). There are two main dirt roads which lead back into the wash with many, obvious cleared areas for camping some of which will also accommodate groups. The only slight ding is that the road does become more bumpy as you go back. Large rigs should probably camp nearer the entrance and/or scout back before driving in. The camphost is also super-friendly and can help you get the lay of the land if needed.
- Nature – 4/5
Very nice nature in this area. The boondocking site is on a flat area next to a large wash. The desert here is lush and green with many small bushes, trees (some sites even have shade) and cacti. Lots of birds and pretty views of distant hills. On-site there are several dirt roads to explore on foot/bike, plus you are only 4 miles from the entrance to fabulous Organ Pipe National Monument. Only slight ding? No real hiking trails here plus this is listed as an area of “illegal activities” (see my thoughts in “summary” section below).
- Isolation – 3/5
Medium isolation here. This is a fairly well-known boondocking spot so you are likely to have company unless you come out of season. However there is plenty of space for everyone, and if you’re willing/able to drive further back into the wash you can find some decent isolation. There is also *some* highway noise from Hwy 85 although we did not find it bothersome.
- Pet Friendliness – 5/5
Another great location for the paws. Lots of open space around camp plus plenty of dirt roads to walk/bike/explore. Good green surroundings with very little cholla (= easy on the paws)
Overall Rating = 4
BONUS ALERT = Camp in “lush” desert only 4 miles from fabulous Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument!
Summary: We chose this spot as a base to explore Ajo (~10 miles away) and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (~4 miles from entrance) and it turned out to be perfect. This is a “semi-managed” BLM area which means there is a camphost and a procedure of registration, but in all other respects it’s just a regular boondocking site (Note/ As of Feb 2015 several blog readers have reported there is NO longer any campsite host here. See comments below the post). There is a 14-day stay limit and no cost to stay. Access is super easy right off Hwy 85 and there are plenty of level sites for any-sized rig and even larger sites for groups. The surrounding nature is flat, “green” desert (quite lush) with several dirt roads to explore and pretty views of the distant hills. Lots of bushes, trees and birds. Some sites even have shade! Plus there is a free book-swap by the camphost in the front. The only slight dings? This is a well-known boondocking site so you’ll likely have neighbors, plus there is *some* noise from Hwy 85 (it didn’t bother us). Also, due to it’s proximity to Mexico this area has signs warning of “illegal activities”. This may bother some folks even though it’s a very common thing in southern AZ (these signs are all over the place here). Personally we felt quite safe. There are over 700 border patrol agents in the area, and the camphost (who’s been hosting here for 10 years) said he’s never seen any issues. However if that’s something that worries you, this may not be the place for you and there are plenty of inexpensive nearby RV parks as alternatives (see below). In our case we loved it!! The animals were enthralled by the green undergrowth, we loved the super-friendly camphost and we enjoyed a perfectly peaceful & relaxing stay. We ended up maxing out our 14 days and will most definitely visit again.
Extra Info: Strong (3-4 bars) Verizon 3G signal although we found it at times to be a tad slow (likely due to tower overloading). NO facilities (no garbage, no dump, no water).
Extra, Extra Info – OTHER BOONDOCKING: Gunsight wash is probably the easiest boondocking spot in this area, but there are plenty of other possibilities for those willing to explore:
- Darby Road (next to Ajo, AZ) has quite attractive spots, although most are probably better-suited to medium-sized rigs (I only found a few that were “beast”-size when we were scouting). It’s a gorgeous area if you can get in.
- Ajo Community Golf Course (just north of Ajo on Mead Road) has ~10 nice dry-camping spots where you can camp for free (for 3 days) if you play a round at the course (only $9 for 9 holes) or have a meal at the clubhouse.
- There are also many other BLM roads in the area, all of which allow 14-day stays.
Extra, Extra, Extra Info – OTHER CAMPING: For those of you worried about the “illegal activities” signs there are plenty of really nice, inexpensive RV parks right around the corner in Why, AZ.
- Coyote Howls is quite unique. The main park has natural (dispersed-type) campsites with no hookups and costs only $40/week or $130/mo (!). We really liked the look of this section…almost like a “managed” BLM area. They also have a hookup section for only $220/mo (+elec.). Very cheap!
- Hickiwan Trails RV Park is a simple, clean park that seems to be a local favorite and costs only $19/night.
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
You do such a nice job on these boondocking posts and it is truly appreciated!
I probably should say that you do such a nice job on ALL your posts!!! Sorry bout that.
Cheers 🙂 Nina
Brett+Cheri [HelloFreedom] says
Nina, what a wonderful post. I as wondering, is there some sort of electric/water hook-ups for the Camphost, or are they boondocking as well? What is their incentive other than no 14-day limit? Thanks! Brett+Cheri
No, the camphost didn’t have any hookups. They do get a honey wagon service that comes out, and of course they can stay all winter. Not many perks, but it’s also a very, very relaxed job…just registering folks.
So this must be more like a LTVA area? Though you didn’t pay any fee…right?
Unusual to have a host on BLM land is it not?
Somewhat. It’s like an LTVA, but no fees plus no facilities and there’s a 14-day limit. So, it really is a “semi-managed” BLM area. It’s somewhat unusual to have a host, but not entirely. Several of the heavily-used BLM areas in AZ have them including Quartzsite (in the free 14-day areas), Snyder Hill (another free 14-day area near Tuscon) and here. The intent is to ensure people don’t “squat” the land and enforce the 14-day limit. Hopefully these areas remain free, but they get enough use that I could see the BLM charging for them at some point in the future.
I love this boondocking update.
It is now my plan to visit there next year.
I’m still enjoying the “Steps” just a few miles north of Parker Dam.
I have some interesting information on my blog about the land fraud schemes. I titled the post “My connection to the Mob”
What a fascinating little story! I’ve heard of the steps, but have not yet been there (we keep meaning to visit Parker and never quite make it!). Cheers for the blog link.
Sorry to be a bother but this link doesn’t work for me, nor does a google search reveal a blog called papas-travel.
Now that my curiosity is piqued by your comment I would like to read it also.
The link worked for you obviously Nina. Can you supply and alternate?
There was an “s” missing in the link which I’ve now corrected.
Here’s the right one:
No wonder you stayed 14 days – it must have taken that long to research the area to give us all that wonderful useful info! Many thanks for your work in this respect Nina and Paul!
It was tough to leave, I admit. We really liked it there, as did the animals.
Brenda McCoy says
Nina, we go by this place when we travel to Rocky Point we live in Tempe. It is a beautiful beach area. They do have RV parks with full hook up for your rig that is if you cared to venture to Mexico. It is 1 hour south of the border. I am sure you know all about it, as you seem to do your research. Only reason I tell you about it because we go there often. You sure have been here at a great time our weather has just been Fabulous.
I have to admit we’ve not (yet) been tempted to go to Mexico, but you never know. Any boondocking in Rocky Point or is it mostly RV parks? We’re not too much into the RV park scene especially if sites are close together, although we DO love Mexican food. It’s hard to beat the space and relaxation of the desert…
I have been following your blog for quite a while now and just wanted to let you know what a great job you did with this post! I imagine it took a lot of effort but your readers truly appreciate it:) Thank you!
These posts do take quite a bit of work, but hopefully they encourage others to share our land and share the love 🙂
You have THE best campground reviews anywhere. Love your extra extra extra information. You are a boondocking treasure! Thanks for all the time you put into providing this information for us.
Glad you enjoy them 🙂
Robert Clayton says
Enjoyed visiting and thanks for the info.
We are on our way to Puerto Penasco and have info on Concha Del Mar if you need it.
Bob and Maxine/on the Empress of Winkler
regina lee says
Great report on your boondocking location and other areas to park as well. I do have one question, where do you take your trash to dispose of it?
In Ajo they have a landfill that the BLM asks you to use. It’s only $3 for any amount of trash you bring:
regina lee says
Good to know, thanks again.
These boondocking posts are great! Thanks for sharing! I think that ill really like boondocking once we are able to get on the road. This place looks pretty awesome!
We love doing this in winter in the SW. Lots of opportunity for it out here.
Doug Hinman says
Hi Nina, We really enjoy your blog and thanks for the great info on boondocking or pay areas. another one in the AJO area near the Golf Course is the AJO rodeo arena. The SKPS boondocking group meets there every year. $3 a night or $18 a week or $35 a month, water available, dump station and one trash barrel that usually is full. Good hiking around the area, very quiet, but only 5 miles from AJO on Well Road, about a mile south of the golf course.
Thanks for that!! We actually noticed that spot on the way to the golf course (and even saw the SKP group there sign and all), but I couldn’t find any info on it so I left it out of the review. This completes it! Thanks so much!
Janna and Mike says
Great post Nina! Mike and I took our previous rig to Mexico–to Alamos, Sonora–about 9 hours south of the Nogales border crossing, staying a month. We had no issues and never felt unsafe. Boondocking in Mexico might not be a good thing to do–camping alone could be asking for trouble–just my opinion and I am sure there are others who would think it was OK.
Thanks for all the work you do on these boondocking posts!!
Thanks Janna. Yeah, I’m thinking Mexico would be mostly RV parks if we went. Not really our style. Maybe one day..
Lori Leduc says
Hello, I just found your blog. I am heading into California from Arizona. Do you have any boondocking ideas along the coast? Thank you
We actually haven’t done the coastal road in CA, so I don’t have any info to share. I suggest you check out http://www.freecampsites.net
Hi Nina, Thanks for this information. We’ve camped on Darby Wells on our way to and from Rocky Point but I think this would actually be an easier stop. That area has some of the most beautiful desert and I think that camp host has a sweet gig!
Rocky Point has lost one of its best boondocking sites – Sandy Beach – but I hear there’s another one we haven’t tried out. We’re not park people either but plan to travel the Baja in a few years so we’ll see how that goes.
I did a little research on the site you’re in now but am excited to hear your review for that area as it’s one I’ve heard of but never explored.
Take care and thank you so much for these reviews!
Grace (in Tucson)
Cool info about Sandy Beach. Maybe I’ll research some more and check it out.
Not to give too much away but we are (once again) LOVING our new spot….I’ll be posting pics soon.
Bill aka one legged cowboy. says
Nina it really bears repeating that your boondocking rating and summary are so very useful and interesting! Thanks for the effort, Bill n Sadie
Kevin and Kim says
Wow what a change … to Buenos Aires overnight… lol … we’re getting the cha cha on here for valentines… <3 🙂 Keep on bloggin'. Can't wait to see the report on Buenos Aires!
Awesome! Hope you have a great day. Got a few teaser shots from our new spot in the post today.
Great information, have stayed there, beautiful area. You do a good job reporting and mapping.
Hi Nina, Love all your posts and the info you’re so willing to share with all of us. Maybe I missed it if you’ve already addressed the issue food while you’re boondocking several weeks at a time. We also eat primarily Paleo, without processed foods and am wondering how you store enough fresh or frozen meats and produce to last that long. We’re in the beginning planning stages of going full time. This will be an important part of my kitchen planning as we move forward.
Regarding food are generally able to shop around once a week no matter where we are (most places have at least some kind of small shop nearby), but sometimes we do need to go two weeks. On the veggie side our basic approach is to buy a variety of veggies, some of which perish faster and others which will last longer…then we eat them in order. So salads, leafy greens and such go first whereas squashes & cabbage can easily last two weeks or more. Fruits are managed the same way (berries eaten first, things like apples last). For breakfast we always have eggs which easily last 2 weeks. For meats we will stock our freezer as deep as it can go and just use as we need. Often during longer boondocking stays we make meals that last multiple days (e.g. stews). We also carry a variety of easy dried foods for snacking (e.g. nuts, jerky etc.).
We DO buy local, fresh foods as often as we can. I always look-up farmers markets no matter where we go and use websites like eatwild.com to search for grassfed meats.
Bekki and Camilo says
We just pulled in here this afternoon. After your glowing recommendation and thorough review, we decided to make this the site of our first boondocking excursion after buying our coach in Tucson. Thanks for all the info, we can’t wait to try out a few of your other recommendations!
Excellent! Hope you enjoy the area as much as we did.
bear tracks blog says
Hi Nina, Just wanted to give a little update on this boondocking spot. There isn’t a camp host this year, so a number of rigs have moved in full-time (or long term anyway). It is still very lovely, and a great location for exploring Organ Pipe and Ajo. However, there are a lot of rigs here. -Linda
Ahhh, bummer about the loss of the camphost & the subsequent influx of longer-stay RVs. The camphost did tell us (last year) that he’d been doing the job 5 years now and wasn’t likely to come back. Thanks for the report and update. This is good info to know.
Mike Davidson says
There is a host now. Nice lady. Our stay started 2/15/16 and counting…..
Excellent news! Thanks for reporting black.
I’m a bit confused; I think we were at the right place (piles of dirt just after a bridge; at GPS 32.2403611, -112.7534056 but no internet to Google it for sure) but when we checked in with an old-timer at what we thought was the host’s RV beside a ‘permanent’ flagpole, he said there hadn’t been a host here ‘for a long time’. He’d been here ‘some time’. The vertical post stating ’14 day limit’ was still there, but guess they’re not enforcing it (so I guess remove this from the ‘Hosted BLM sites’ shortlist!).
Meanwhile, although 60mls away, if it’s on your route: a great fuel/dump stop at Gila Bend: Shell, 3006 S. Butterfield Tr/I-8 – RV-friendly, Dump and drinking water is FREE, and large truck stop lot behind (probably OK for overnight stop if you had to).
The host was there last year (when we visited the area), but I gather he didn’t come back this year. Since the host is only there during the winter season I guess the comment that there’s been no host “for some time” makes sense. Total bummer that the 14-day rules are not being enforced. It’s a great area, but I could easily see it becoming over-run. Cheers also for the link to the dump station & water info.
Hey Nina.. we ended up at Darby Well just south of Ajo, and it’s absolutely stunning. Also wouldn’t agree that there’s limited beast sized spots. We’ve found plenty in our scouting. Some that are super easy to get to, and others that would take some careful effort.
So glad you encouraged us to check this area out.. it’s going on our top ever list 🙂
Glad you guys enjoyed the area! We’ll have to look again at Darby Road next time we go back there.