Kelly Canyon, Flagstaff, Arizona | Camping

Yellow wildflowers blanket forest meadow with blue sky above

Kelly Canyon is a convenient and cool place to camp among lovely ponderosa pines near Flagstaff, Arizona at 7,000 feet. The canyon lies within the Coconino National Forest. There is a beautiful forest meadow above the canyon with plenty of room to stretch out. You’ll find many excellent campsites at the meadow and in the surrounding forest.

Nearby highlights include Priest Draw, Howard Draw, Coulter Hill, Coulter Park, Oak Creek Canyon, Lake Mary, Mormon Lake, and the Arizona Trail (which spans the entire state). Yes, there is much to see and do in this area! Hiking the easy trail through nearby Priest Draw is a must do for scenic views of the unique limestone rock of the Kaibab Formation.

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Where in The World?

Campsite #1

This campsite is in the forest with some shade. It’s very convenient for easy access to Flagstaff, since it is very close to I-17.

Camping Elevation: 6,892 feet

GPS Coordinates: N 35 03.504’ W 111 40.948’

Directions to Campsite: From Flagstaff, Arizona take I-17 south to Kelly Canyon Road, exit 331. Turn left (east) onto Kelly Canyon Road (FR 700H) and drive up the hill until you reach FR 703 on your left. Turn here and you’ll find the campsite on the left just a short ways down the road.

Campsite #1 Map

Campsite #2

This is just one of many campsites at the forest meadow above Kelly Canyon.

Camping Elevation: 7,020 feet

GPS Coordinates: N 35 01.879’ W 111 39.325’

Directions to Campsite: From Flagstaff, Arizona take I-17 south to Kelly Canyon Road, exit 331. Turn left (east) onto Kelly Canyon Road (FR 700H). Take this forest road up the hill to FR 700 and turn right (southeast). Travel southeast on FR 700 and just before you reach the forest meadow turn left (east) onto FR 465. Take FR 465 a short ways to the campsite on your right – actually there will be several campsites along this road and next to the meadow. There are more campsites in the forest further up the road. Even more campsites can be found if you take FR 700 across the meadow and turn left on the next side road. There are many, many campsites near this beautiful meadow!

Campsite #2 Map

Kelly Canyon RV Camping Journal

Campsite #1

July 10, 2010

This campsite is not the most scenic, I-17 traffic is audible, and there is a shooting range nearby. That being said, there’s great summer weather at this elevation (highs around 80, lows about 50), no biting insects (no juniper gnats here!), and it’s close to town (Flagstaff is only a 10-15 minute drive away). It’s a convenient place to camp. There’s not much traffic on this road, which is nice.

Priest Draw (northeast of here) and Coulter Hill (southeast of here) are the coolest areas I’ve seen so far.

Weather: It’s early July and clouds and thunderstorms are beginning to build, more so in the afternoons. I’ve had hardly any rain, though there was a light rain yesterday for an hour – the most I’ve seen in a few months. It sounds like August is when monsoon season really kicks in. Right now, it’s almost always sunny.

Wildlife: I’ve seen elk, deer, coyote, lizards, squirrels, several birds including robins and one with a red head, yellow body, and black wings – probably a western tanager. There are also many cattle here. The area is tall ponderosa pine forest. I do see some cacti here and there, and a few oak trees.

Campsite #2

October 11, 2011

The camping is excellent here. I have a feeling it’s a very popular spot for summer camping. Now that it’s autumn, I haven’t seen too many other campers at the meadow except on weekends.

One drawback at this time of year is the gunshot noise. It seems many are practicing for hunting season. Another drawback is that it’s not the most private place to camp. There is a fair amount of traffic along FR 700 and FR 465. More privacy could be found by camping in the forest, instead of along the meadow.

James Canyon is nearby to the west and Kelly Canyon to the northeast. These canyons are rather shallow at this point so the views are not too spectacular.

Weather: The weather was nice when I arrived a couple weeks ago at the end of September. Highs were in the 70s and lows in the 40s. Last week the whole state had a big cool down and it dropped down into the 20s here on a few nights. I only had a high in the 40s on one day. I had a good amount of rain, clouds, some thunder, and a little bit of sleet and snow. There are still quite a few puddles, but all the sleet and snow has melted. It’s warmed back up some now with highs in the 60s, but cool at night and down into the 30s. Thankfully with the sunshine back again the ground has mostly dried and I can drive on the roads.

Wildlife: There are several birds here at this forest meadow. The most common are these small brown and white feathered types, and another slightly larger with blue feathers and a brown/red belly, probably a western bluebird. I’ve also seen several ravens and a few turkey vultures overhead. Spotted some squirrels, but not many rabbits. Saw a few deer and a few small lizards.

Insects: I’ve had no real problems. Since it’s warmed back up I have seen several paper wasps flying about and many on my RV. I’m not sure what attracts them. I suppose they’re looking for food. There are quite a few flying grasshoppers here – they can be fun to watch – many times they just fly straight up and hover for a few seconds then come back down.

Cows: There are no cows here at my campsite, though I did see a few further up FR 465 at Coulter Park.

RV Solar: Keeping the batteries charged has been very easy as there is plenty of sunshine at the edge of this meadow.

Cell Signal: Verizon cell phone service has been good. Verizon mobile broadband internet has been fairly fast with the external antenna. It doesn’t work so well without the external antenna. Service is not as fast here as it was when I was at Campsite #1, which is closer to I-17 and the cell tower.

RV Campsite Rating: 8 out of 10. This forest meadow makes an excellent campsite! If you want to avoid potential summer crowds, it’s best to camp during the off season (spring or fall).

Kelly Canyon Video Slideshow

Yellow wildflowers blanket forest meadow with blue sky above

Priest Draw Video Slideshow

Rounded rocky outcrop in forest

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