Standard (tent/RV)
Tent Cabin
Dispersed
Group
RV Sites
Tent Sites
Equestrian
Fires Allowed
Pets Allowed
Drinking Water
About Houston Mesa Campground

Houston Mesa Campground is located in the forested northern section of Tonto National Forest, just one mile north of Payson, Arizona and less than two hours from Phoenix.

With family, equestrian and tent-only campsites, this campground can accommodate a range of visitors and offers plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors, including several miles of hiking and horseback riding trails nearby.

As the fifth largest forest in the United States, the Tonto National Forest is one of the most-visited "urban" forests in the United States (approximately 5.8 million visitors annually). Its boundaries are Phoenix to the south, the Mogollon Rim to the north and the San Carlos and Fort Apache Indian reservations to the east.

Recreation

Many visitors come to Houston Mesa to horseback ride, hike, camp and picnic. Houston Mesa Loop Trail is a 9-mile round trip through a pinyon and juniper woodland and can be accessed from the horse camping area. The Houston Mesa Interpretive Trail is a 0.5-mile self-guided trail.

Facilities

Houston Mesa has 74 campsites, including 29 equestrian sites for campers with horses or mules, and 17 tent-only sites for those who want a quieter experience. There are several amenities to make campers feel at home, including showers (coin-operated) and flush toilets. All of the sites are accessible.

The horse camping section (Mule Deer Loop) is across the street from the main campground and features 29 individual sites with tables and grills. Corrals are also available. Campers who reserve these sites must have horses or mules. 

Natural Features

The campground is located at an elevation of 5,200 ft. in a mixed forest and shrub area, with spacious campsites offering both sun and shade. Winters are pleasant and cool with cold nighttime temperatures, while summers are warm and sunny, providing a nice getaway from the hotter deserts around Phoenix. Hawks, eagles, javelina, deer, fox, skunk and coyote live in the area.

Nearby Attractions

Campers who make the quick trip to the town of Payson, one mile south, will find restaurants, shopping and other conveniences.

Scenic driving and outdoor recreation abound in the surrounding Tonto National Forest, which embraces almost 3 million acres of rugged and spectacularly beautiful country, ranging from saguaro cactus-studded desert to pine-forested mountains beneath the Mogollon Rim.

ADA Access: N

Sites
74
Price
$20.00 - $165.00
Operator
National Forest
Access
Drive In
Walk In
Hike In
Features
ADA Accessible
Alcohol Allowed
Drinking Water
Electric Hookups
Fires Allowed
Firewood Available
Market
Pets Allowed
Phone Service
Picnic Table
Reservable
Sanitary Dump
No Sewer Hookups
Showers
Toilets
Trash Available
No Water Hookups
No WiFi
Location
Houston Mesa Campground is located in Arizona
Latitude
34.27 N
Longitude
-111.3142 W
Get Directions
Directions
From Payson, Arizona, go north for 1 mile to the junction of Highway 87 (Beeline Highway) and Forest Road 199 (Houston Mesa Road). Turn right (east) onto Forest Road 199 for .10 miles. The campground is on the north side of Houston Mesa Road.
18 Reviews of Houston Mesa Campground
Solid campground

Great spot for tent camping. Awesome for beginners and young families. Bathrooms were clean. Fellow campers were respectable. Site overall very clean. Would go again.

Awsome

Very clean and quiet lots of hiking areas. Short drive to water

Gorgeous area

Beautiful country with a lot of campgrounds down the road. Close to creeks and water wheel and some hidden hiking gems.

Wonderful campground

We were able to escape the valley and up to beautiful Payson for an extended weekend. This campground was very well maintained. There are bathrooms and showers, drinking water available and many hiking trails throughout. Most spots had a good amount of space between the other. Most are pretty level. There are a handful of pull thru spots but most all are back in. Each spot as a fire ring, paved driveway and picnic table.

Good

We really liked this camp ground, we just didn't like the experience. The spaces are spread apart and there is plenty of room. But you can have up to 10 people, 2 car and ONLY 2 tents. So be prepared to sleep in groups I guess, we weren't. Also the camp host was nice but seemed to cater to the people she knew, she drives by A LOT and checked up on us almost every hour, we go to camp to get away, not be bothered. She really did not make us feel welcomed but we really did like where the camp site was so we're just hoping a new host is there if we ever go back.

Such a great site!!

We had a great time here, sites are good size and well kept! Amenities were in great condition and our favorite day use river spot is 15 minutes away👌🏻 A+++

A favorite

This site is well kept and spacious. And the closest site to Water Wheel which is about ten miles away and Arizona’s best kept secret. I usually set up camp the afternoon before and get up early to make the drive to Water Wheel and get in a day hike. This place has extraordinary water falls and swimming holes. I have probably camped at Mesa Houston more than any other place in Arizona just so I can hike Water Wheel and have never had a negative experience. Payson is beautiful and this camp site is near amenities and great hiking spots.

Really nice horse campground

This campground has really nice sites, that can accommodate large trailers. Each horse site has two large corrals, a fire pit, and picnic table.  There is water locations around the campground as well as bathrooms. Across the street is the main non horse campground, and there is pay showers if needed and an amphitheater there. The trails weren't my favorite, a bit rocky, but were not bad either. The campground is a great location near Payson.

Ranger Review: GrubStick at Houston Mesa

Campground Review

We LOVE Houston Mesa!  This is our second time staying here, and we had an even better time this time then last time  (and we had an amazing time last time, so that was hard to beat).

Located just 1.5 hours from Phoenix, this is a super easy getaway from The Valley.  Houston Mesa Campground is also right off the main highway of town, so if you forgot something (or just want McDonalds instead of hot dogs) you can find civilization about 2 minutes away.

This time we went up with friends and stayed at sites Black Bear 4 and 5.  These sites were PERFECT to book together, since they made one huge space when connected.  We had 3 families, each with large tents, and had plenty of space. We will stay at these same sites next time.  The bathroom is also right next to site 3, so it was easy to walk to.

Bathrooms are clean and have flush toilets.  There are showers available at a central shower building, but we did not use those.

Each site comes with a picnic table and a fire pit (complete with BBQ grill topper).  I also found the sites to be freshly racked on arrival, so that was nice.

There is also a great nature walk at the park that you can do with young kids.  Every few feet is a sign describing local animals and plants.

A short 15 minute drive away is the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park --  a must see in the area! Beautiful and easy hike to see a absolutely gorgeous natural wonder.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - at Houston Mesa I was testing the GrubStick Deluxe Kit.  

Wow. Wow.  WOW. This set is a GAME CHANGER for campfire cooking.  We have been using dinky little forks forever and having to buy new ones every few trips because they get bent out of shape or burned up.  This kit will last you FOREVER. They are so well made!

This kit includes two grippy telescoping handles, and then a ton of accessories (2 fork toppers, a cage for whole S’mores, a cage for burgers, a small metal rod to make bacon cups, and a large metal rod to cook dough). There are also 4 other accessories, like hot pags and cage openers that are thoughtful additions.  AND they come in their own mini duffel bag!

My friends were seriously blown away when they saw our set and were asking so many questions about it.  My favorite part was the dough rod, because we made delicious campfire cinnamon-sugar crescent roll cylinders!!

5 Stars for GrubStick, can’t wait to try out new recipes!

Check out my video review here: https://youtu.be/JPNznJ7wApE

Showers!

So grateful for the showers. Love this campground.