Box Canyon Boondocking

Box Canyon, AZ Boondocking - Northstar Laredo SC Truck Camper

With the Phoenix metropolitan area being a popular winter destination for RV owners, I often get asked where the best places are to boondock in the area. There are numerous places in the Valley of the Sun and locations nearby where you can camp for the night. One of the better places is the so-called Florence Junction area on the east side of the valley between Highway 60 and the city of Florence. Here you will find plentiful boondocking along the popular Box Canyon 4×4 Jeep trail. Note, boondocking at these sites will require an Arizona State Trust Recreation Permit (the cost is $20 a year). Box Canyon is actually on public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), but the roads leading to the narrow slot canyon are on Arizona state trust land.

Finding the boondocking locations along the Box Canyon 4×4 Trail is fairly easy. Most can be found along Cottonwood Canyon Road off of Highway 79, which serves as the northern entrance to the trail. Boondocking is permitted on both sides of the road and because the sites are flat they are open to pretty much any type of RV including large motorhomes and toy haulers. During the weekends we were there we counted about two dozen RVs along this 8-mile-long road, which isn’t bad at all. In addition to Cottonwood Canyon Road, you can find several boondocking sites along Price Road, which enters Box Canyon from the south. Because Price Road is rougher and narrower, these sites are pretty much limited to small RVs like truck campers and small class C motorhomes. These primitive sites can be found mainly on the east side of the road about half-mile before you enter the south end of Box Canyon.

Box Canyon, AZ Boondocking - Northstar Laredo SC Truck Camper
View of our campsite looking east toward Box Canyon.
Box Canyon, AZ Boondocking - Northstar Laredo SC Truck Camper
Early morning shot of our campsite along Cottonwood Canyon Road.
Box Canyon, AZ Boondocking - Sagauros at Sunset
A large cluster of Sagauros at sunset.
Box Canyon Boondocking - Northstar Laredo Truck Camper
View along a large wash looking north.
Box Canyon 4x4 Jeep Trail Boondocking
Another Box Canyon boondocking site along Cottonwood Canyon Road.

As for the Box Canyon 4×4 Trail itself, what kind of vehicles can explore it? Unfortunately, nothing larger than a Jeep or high clearance SUV. The northern and southern approaches to the canyon are wide enough for a truck camper, but the drive through the narrow slot canyon is littered with large and small boulders, including a very steep rock obstacle dubbed the waterfall, and numerous trees with low hanging limbs. Because of these obstacles, the passage through the slot canyon is best left to Jeeps, quads, razors, and motorcycles. Still, we were able to explore some of the trails north and south of Box Canyon in our Northstar Laredo.

Box Canyon, AZ Northstar Laredo SC Truck Camper
View of the trail along Price Road.
Box Canyon, AZ Northstar Laredo SC Truck Camper
Another view before entering the south entrance to Box Canyon.
Box Canyon, AZ - Northstar Laredo SC Truck Camper
Exploring one of numerous side trails north of Box Canyon.
Box Canyon 4x4 Jeep Trail
View of our Jeep Wrangler along the Box Canyon Trail.
Box Canyon, AZ
View of Box Canyon through our Jeep’s window.
Box Canyon, AZ Stagecoach Stop
The remains of an old stagecoach stop on the Box Canyon Trail.
Box Canyon, AZ Mine
Old mine and cattle watering hole near Box Canyon.
Box Canyon, AZ Waterfall
Climbing the infamous Box Canyon Waterfall.

It’s worth noting that the Florence Junction area is a nationally recognized Jeeping attraction. Aside from the Box Canyon Trail, you can also tackle the nearby Coke Ovens Trail, the Woodpecker Trail and Ajax Mine, the Elvis Trail, the Martinez Cabin Trail, the Jack Handle, and the Reymert Mine Road. Indeed, the network of trails is so vast and plentiful that you could easily spend a week here and not see and do everything (make sure you bring good maps with you as it’s easy to get lost). If you tow a Jeep or a trailer with a quad, motorcycle, or razor behind your truck camper, then the Florence Junction area is a must-see, must-do attraction. Look for a more detailed review of the Box Canyon 4×4 Jeep Trail soon.

About Mello Mike 880 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. A communications expert and licensed ham radio operator (KK7TCA), he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, holds a BS degree, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side. He currently rolls in a 4WD Ram 3500 outfitted with a SherpTek truck bed with a Bundutec Roadrunner mounted on top.

1 Comment

  1. Good write up, thanks for the detail. We now have a Blue Ox towbar setup for our Jeep and having family in the Phoenix area, we’ll be sure to bring “Rubi” along next time. We we’re on the Apache Trail last weekend and had a great time. It might be worth noting folks headed to Florence Jct during the Rennasiance festival would save a bunch of time taking 87 out of Chandler to arrive from the west. US 60 was backed easily 10 miles with traffic headed southeast bound.

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