Pumphouse Wash, Arizona

Pumphouse Wash

Pumphouse Wash is an east branch of Oak Creek Canyon located about halfway between Flagstaff and Sedona, Arizona. This deep and narrow canyon is carved of beautiful Coconino Sandstone and features deep pools and slot canyons.

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Where in The World?

I’m camped on a ridgeline which overlooks a side canyon to Pumphouse Wash. It’s near the east rim and north end of Oak Creek Canyon, near where the canyon begins its journey south to Sedona.

This is a beautiful spot. I’m facing my “patio” toward the west and have a wonderful view of 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.

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 the canyon.

Camping Elevation: 6,630 feet

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

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

Directions to Campsites: From Flagstaff, Arizona take I-17 south to exit 328 for Newman Park. Turn right (west) on Forest Road 253. Take FR 253 about 2 1/2 miles and turn right (north) on 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 for Campsite #2, as it receives less use.

There are other places to camp along FR 253 and its side roads; however, this appears to be the most popular camping area…FR 253G and just across to the other side of FR 253. I didn’t see anyone camped elsewhere.

More camping can be found on the other side of Pumphouse Wash, accessed from Highway 89A and Forest Road 237. For more information see the forest service page: Pumphouse Wash (FR 237) Dispersed Camping Area

Pumphouse Wash Camping Area Map

This is the location of Campsite #1 mentioned above.

Pumphouse Wash RV Camping Journal

June 27, 2011

This has been an excellent campsite, except for the gunshot noise heard on the weekends. Weekends are 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. I do hear some faint road noise from Hwy 89A, which is just down into the canyon a short distance away.

Hiking: 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 south along the edge of Oak Creek Canyon, just past Cookstove Draw. You can’t really see 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’m camping in late June. 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 upper 80s during the day and upper 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.

Insects: Zero 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 kingpin, which I easily knocked down in the morning.

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.

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 rim of Oak Creek Canyon.

Oak Creek Canyon & Pumphouse Wash Video Slideshow

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