Prescott National Park Bans Camping in Verde Valley for 2 Years, Cites Human Impact

Since May 2018, Prescott National Forest officials have removed 8,500 pounds of trash and still have more work to do on the Highway 260 corridor. (Photo courtesy Debbie Maneely/Prescott National Forest)

VERDE VALLEY, Ariz. – The Prescott National Forest is implementing a two-year camping ban in a popular area to help it recover from human impact.

The area runs along the Verde River, stretching from Cottonwood to south of Camp Verde. It’s a dispersed camping area, meaning the Forest Service does not collect trash or provide bathrooms.

Debbie Maneely, with the Prescott National Forest, said overuse and abuse of this area has left it desolate and dry.

Related story

Poop on Public Lands Prompts Feds to Clamp Down on Dispersed Camping

“It looked like if you’re down there in the Verde River, and you’ve seen areas where there’s grasses and vegetation along the river banks. And that’s what it looked like. And now it’s just flat dirt. There’s nothing there. So it’s kind of unappealing,” said Maneely.

Maneely attributes this change to the loads of trash, human waste and abuse of the camping areas in recent years. She said since May 2018, they have removed 8,500 pounds of trash and still have more cleanup work to do.

“We’ve had major safety concerns due to high use, overstay violations,” said Maneely. “Normally, you can only stay at a disperse camp for 14 days, and we’ve had people stay there up to 30 days. they’re abandoning their property, leaving trash, there’s some illegal activities. There’s human waste in the area.”

Maneely advises visitors to go to the forest’s website or call the Camp Verde Ranger District for suggestions on other areas to camp. She also encourages campers to leave no trace.