If you're looking for a nice place to camp with a tent or RV and you don't want to pay, you can try this relatively unknown spot off Highway 260.
Take 260 out of Payson about one-half hour, (approximately 30 miles east) to the top of the Rim. There, you'll see the Visitors Center on your right. The center is only open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, due to budgetary constraints. Next to the center is a dirt, forest service road (FS 171). Travel on that road about 1 mile and you'll find around a dozen no-fee camping spots designated by markers. There are designated spots on both sides of the road.
In some cases, you'll be able to set up camp a few hundred feet from the actual Rim.
Understand, however, it is usually extremely windy along the edge of the Rim, so don't pitch your tent or pull in too close to the edge. The search and rescue teams often have to pull bodies out of rocky crevices all along the Rim because people stand too close to the edge. Don't become one of their statistics.
All along this road, you'll find flat spots to camp. During the summer, and even in the fall, you'll have a grand time picking wildflowers.
There are some spots, or divots, in the ground that sometimes fill with water and make tiny lakes, but they're often dry.
These are not campsites for someone looking to fish, or play along a creek. This is, however, a great place to get good photographs of the kids playing in the wildflowers, the family perched on top of the Rim and breathe in the fragrance of pine trees.
This is also a good place to camp, if you want to hike the nearby General Crook Historic Trail or venture across Highway 260 and hike and play at Woods Canyon Lake.
At Woods Canyon Lake, you can rent a boat, fish, picnic or hike on trails surrounding the lake.
AT A GLANCE
Where: Forest Road 171 along Mogollon Rim next to Visitors Center
What you'll see: Tall ponderosa pines, meadow, flat spots for tents, some room for RVs, views of Rim and valley below.
RV hookups: No
Views: Yes -- spectacular
Time limit: 14 days