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How to Buy an Arizona State Trust Land Permit

How to Buy an Arizona State Trust Land Permit

If you plan on spending the winter in your van in southern Arizona, you’ll want to buy the Arizona State Trust Land Permit. While state trust land in Arizona is public land, you need an inexpensive permit to recreate on it.

You’ll need this cheap permit for anything you do on the land from hiking and camping to hunting and shooting. The chances of an authority actually checking your permit are low. However, if you don’t have it, the fines are steep and pricy!

I have spent a lot of time recreating on Arizona State Trust Land. It has great camping, hiking, and bird watching!

I’ll walk you through the permit process including how to fill it out and where you can print it.

What Can You Do With an Arizona State Trust Land Permit?

If you’re running away from winter in your van, you’ll find it helpful to have this permit.

The ways you’ll use an Arizona State Trust Land permit are:

  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Shooting
  • Hunting
  • Bird Watching
  • Photography
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Recreation
  • Sightseeing
  • GPS-Based Recreation
  • Picnicking

Basically, if you’re recreating in any way on State Trust Land, be safe and get the permit. Then, you’re covered!

Arizona State Trust Land Permit COST

You’ll need 1 of 4 types of Arizona State Trust Land Trust permits for recreation.

CostTimePermit Type
$151 YearIndividual Recreation Permit (One Person)
$201 YearFamily Recreation Permit (Two Adults + Two Children)
$155 DaysSmall Group Recreation Permit (19 people or less)
$300VariableLarge Group Recreation Permit (20 people or more)*
Arizona State Trust Land Permit Types and Costs

*Apparently, the process of applying for this can take up to 90 days and is not simple.

Basic Rules Before You Go

Before you set out to recreate, your Arizona State Trust Land permit has a few rules.

  1. Leave No Trace: Always take care of your public lands by practicing leave no trace. First, you can do this by packing out your trash, including your toilet paper. Second, make sure you put out your campfires and use existing campfire rings when you can. Basically, pack it in, pack it out.
  2. 14 Day Camping Limit – Different than Usual. Technically, you can only camp for 14 days per year. While that’s hard to enforce…make sure you move around a bit.
  3. Put your permit in your vehicle window. Print it out and have a digital copy on your phone. That way, there is no question of whether you have a permit or not.
  4. Group permits can be bypassed if each individual already has a permit. Basically, if you have 15 people and each person already has an individual or family permit, you do not need a group permit.
  5. Always check updated fire restrictions before starting a campfire. With wildfires plaguing the western US, please check for fire restrictions and follow them.

Step by Step Instructions to Get Your Arizona State Trust Land Permit

You have two easy options to get your own Arizona State Trust Land permit: go in person in Phoenix or buy online here.

Step 1: Go to the Correct Website

Arizona State Land Department Website for applications and permits.
Permit Website

The Arizona State Trust Land Permit website is old school. Yes, this is what it really looks like. Click the link to start your permit process.

Step 2: Select the Recreation Permit You Need.

A list of permits and applications for the Arizona State Land Department.  Arrows point to the Arizona State Trust Land Permits for recreation.
Choose One of These 3 Permit Options

From the table above, you should know which recreation permit will suit your needs. For most van lifers, you will want either the individual or the family. If you’re a couple in a van, select the family recreation permit.

Step 3: Read the Terms and Click “Agree & Pay”

Rules and regulations for an Arizona State Land Trust Permit.  Arrow points to "agree & pay."
Rules and Regulations

Read the terms and conditions. I summarized many of the important ones for van life above.

Step 4: Reselect Your Product (Permit Type)

Use the Drop Down to Select Permit Type (Again)

They only give you three options here: individual, family, or small group. Each Arizona State Trust Land permit type also tells you the cost here.

Step 5: Select Your Activities

The recreation activities you can select for your Arizona State Land Trust Permit.
Select Recreation Activities Here

The Trust Land wants to gather information here about how you want to use the public land.

Select various activities one at a time from the left box and click the right arrow button. If you make a mistake, select the mistake in the right box and click the left arrow.

Here, choose any and all activities that interest you. It will NOT cost you more.

Step 6: Fill Out Your Personal Information

Space to fill out personal information for an AZ State Trust Land Permit.
Personal Information Here

The Arizona State Trust Land permit asks for more information so they know who is using the public land. Moreover, they would like to see which other state’s residents use Arizona specific land.

I have never received any mail or unnecessary email from getting this permit.

The only email I’ve received from here is the actual permit to print.

When finished, click “Save & Pay.”

Step 7: Enter Your Billing Information

Billing and credit card information required for an AZ State Land Trust Permit.
Billing and Credit Card Information Needed for Permit

Just like you’re shopping online, fill out how you’d like to pay.

You must pay with a U.S.-based debit or credit card!

I have not ever seen an option for PayPal or Apple Pay.

When finished, click “continue.”

Step 8: Check Your Email and Print Your Permit

Your Arizona State Trust Land permit should come to your email momentarily. If you don’t see it, check your junk mail folder.

Once you find it, you’ll need to print it out to keep it physically in your vehicle.

Since I live in a van and don’t have a printer, I find a local library. You can usually print the 1-page permit for 10 cents in black and white or 25 cents for a color print. Just ask the librarian at the desk how printing works at their location.

Alternatively, you could go to a UPS store or any Office Supply store to print as well.

Conclusion: If in Doubt, Get an Arizona State Trust Land Permit

Van camping in the desert of Arizona in the warmer temperatures that make great winter van life locations.
Finding Beauty in the Desert

While it totally sucks to pay for public land, we actually do it all the time. Every time you enter a state or national park, you pay for an entrance fee. Or, you use a national parks pass.

At least an Arizona State Trust Land permit is only $15-20! That’s cheaper than almost any state or national park. Furthermore, it’s a lot cheaper than the fine for not having one!

Basically, if in doubt, get the permit. That way, you’re covered.

Lastly, it will open up a lot more space for recreation such as van camping, trail running, and general exploring.


Friday 17th of November 2023

This is amazing! Thank you for creating this. I want this to be shared everywhere because it's so easy for people to not do this properly and get everyone else in trouble!


Saturday 18th of November 2023

Thank you! And yes, exactly! It's so inexpensive and let's be honest...the land designation is not always clear! Better to be safe than sorry...I'll gladly pay $20 a year to avoid a huge fine.


Thursday 16th of November 2023

Super useful! Thank you 🙌


Saturday 18th of November 2023

You're welcome! Thanks for reading 😊

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