Pumphouse Wash between Flagstaff and Sedona, Arizona

by Will

RV camping on the ridge above Pumphouse Wash

RV camping on the ridge above Pumphouse Wash

This is a beautiful spot as I'm camped on a ridgeline which overlooks a side canyon to Pumphouse Wash. I’m facing my "patio" toward the west and can see the sunset through the trees. I can get an even better view by taking a few steps to the edge of the canyon. However, the best views are not at my campsite but along the edge of Oak Creek Canyon, to the southwest. Also, Ritter Butte is a must see, just for its views of Oak Creek Canyon. This butte is the best high point on this side of Oak Creek Canyon for its spectacular views.

Campsite 1 GPS Coordinates: N 35 01.905’ W 111 42.468’

Campsite 2 GPS Coordinates: N 35 01.947’ W 111 42.493’

Elevation: 6630 feet

Campsite Directions: From Flagstaff take I-17 south to exit 328 for Newman Park. Turn right (west) onto FR 253. Take FR 253 for about 2 ½ miles and turn right (north) onto FR 253G. You’ll find Campsite 1 a short ways down this road on your left, and Campsite 2 just before the terrain begins to drop on both sides as the road continues across the ridge. There isn’t an obvious turn here for Campsite 2 as it isn’t used often.

There are other places to camp along FR 253 and its side roads, however this appears to be the most popular spot (this road and just across to the other side of FR 253). I haven’t seen any campers anywhere else.

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Oak Creek Canyon Pumphouse Wash Video Slideshow

Pumphouse Wash RV Camping Journal


This has been an excellent campsite, except for the gunshot noise heard here on the weekends. The weekends is also the only time the area is popular for camping. I’ve thought of putting up a “No Shooting” sign next to the road where I’m camped. I have a feeling it wouldn't do much good though.

Otherwise, it’s been very quiet and only a bicycle or ATV is seen every few days on Forest Road 253G. I’m surprised there aren’t more campers like there were at my last campsite, Rocky Park. It must be because this area is farther from

Phoenix. I do hear some faint road noise from Hwy 89A, which is just down into the canyon a short distance away.

I’m glad I was able to hike another trail in the Sedona/Oak Creek area: Cookstove Trail. I found the top of the trail by hiking along the edge of Oak Creek Canyon south, just past Cookstove Draw. You can’t really find it unless you’re hiking right along the edge. Look for some large boulders and a couple rock cairns. I took the trail down to Oak Creek and explored the creek from another trail I found on the west bank. There is a natural spring here (on the east side of the creek next to the road) which is very popular for filling jugs and water bottles. Spring water flows constantly from the pipes that harness the water. I filled up my water bottles and it tasted great – just like clean fresh water.

Weather: I did use my catalytic heater on a couple mornings when I first arrived. Now things have really warmed up and it's been in the high 80s during the day and high 40s at night. I’ve had no rain, just sunny skies with a very occasional cloud. I haven’t seen rain here in Arizona for 2 months now. It's been breezy in the afternoons with occasional strong gusts. Mornings, evenings, and nights are usually calm.

Cows: It appears more cows have showed up since I arrived. Thankfully there aren’t as many as I remember while camped at Ashurst Lake on Anderson Mesa last year.

Cell Signal: Verizon cell phone service has been excellent with a very strong signal. Verizon mobile broadband internet has worked excellent too and is fast, except for a couple times when all I could get was National Access, even with the external antenna. With the external antenna, both numbers where in the 70s, so very fast almost always.

Insects: No no-see-ums! Just some yellow jackets, paper wasps, and flies. They’re not a big deal though. I had a paper wasp start a nest under my 5th wheel trailer pin, which I easily knocked down in the morning.

Campsite Rating: 7 out of 10. Overall it’s a great campsite and an excellent area to camp for access to Pumphouse Wash and the east edge of Oak Creek Canyon.

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