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Blackwater, ARIZONA
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Right on the water

This campground was a great spot for our first kayak trip. Very little water traffic, great views, and lakeside camping. The area is first come, first served, but you only have to have a Tonto pass to stay there. No campground fees. The road to the lake is pretty rough, but manageable without a trailer. We will definitely be back.

Great if you’re on the water

There is some overnight at coons bluff but Phon D Sutton is just day use. You need a tonto pass or national parks adventure pass. Kayaking is great and there are some cool features to explore like islands in the river. The river flow is turned down during the winter so you can check online at

https://waterdata.usgs.gov/az/nwis/uv/?site_no=09502000&PARAmeter_cd=00065,00060

Usually flow between 400-1000 is great for anything and they maintain that mostly through the summer. If you start up further east then the far side of the river is fun to explore, be aware that usually until mid June the other side is close for Bald Eagle protection. Spend some time on the water and if you’re quiet and watching you’ll see all types of birds including eagles, hawks, cardinals, fishing birds, herons. Also there are horses throughout the river.

Further east the better

FYI the entrance that this references is actually further west than shown on the map. Less than a mile west of the bridge over Salt River at Pebble Beach.

I love Bulldog Canyon but some spots get overrun with quads and side by sides. Fun place for four wheeling but if you want to camp I would recommend getting into Bulldog from one of the south east entrances off the 88. If you follow the trails back far enough you reach beautiful canyons and lots of sandstone and lava rock formations. 4x4 is definitely necessary if you want to go very far but I did it in a 95 Cherokee without a lift so it’s not too rough. This is pack in pack out camping, find a spot wherever you can. Make sure to get a permit in advance, you can get one in person at the ranger station off Higley day of or online if you have a few days to wait. You can definitely get to feeling like you’re in the middle of nowhere pretty quick here with the winding canyons.

Phon D Sutton

Phon D Sutton is one in a series of picnic areas along the salt river. This is for daytime use and not available for overnight camping. The only area available to camp is Coons Bluff.

The picnic areas starting from power road moving east are Granite reef, Phon D Sutton, Coons Bluff, Blue Point on the north, Pebble Beach on the south, and the Water Users or main drop point at the end. All of these require a Tonto pass which is $8 at nearby convenient stores or you can buy a year pass for $88 I believe at the rangers station.

We kayaked from the Water Users drop point to Phon D Sutton in a couple hours, stopping along the way.

Phon D Sutton, along with all the other picnic sites have vault toilets and you can get cell service. Every time I have been, the trash cans are overfilling and there are piles of trash left behind by weekend holiday tubers. If you go on the weekend, expect to hear loud music and drunk people.

Weekdays are great and you might be one of the only one out there.

The salt river wildlife makes up for the sometimes messy picnic area. I have never been out there and not seen the wild horses, various birds, fish, and plant life that this area has to offer. There are a few good swimming pools along this beach area and all throughout the river too.

Three stars for the picnic area because I mainly use it as a pick up point but five stars for the salt river(especially not on a holiday weekend!!!)

Mesquite Wash/Sycamore Creek

Mesquite Wash is located approximately 20 miles northeast of Fountain Hills, Arizona. Follow the Bee Line Highway, SR 87, a few miles past the Four Peaks turn off. Watch for the Mesquite Wash sign. The main area is on the west side of the highway and is used primarily by off road vehicles. The east side of the highway is quieter and has several pull offs available for dispersed camping.

There are no facilities; no restrooms, hookups, or trash. Pack it in, pack it out. The best time to go is in the winter months but with the weather being pretty fair it’s not too bad. You can have a fire but it depends on fire danger for the day. Pretty much if it’s hot and or dry, you won’t be able to have a fire.

It is free and first come first serve, although there are plenty of spots to go around!

All that being said, this is one of the most beautiful spots in the Sonoran desert! There are so many amazing views! Great for hiking or off roading.

Side note: Please clean up after yourself! Forest Service has put so many restrictions on this area because people leave their trash out there.

Great summer fun

Large spacious sites. Several camping options available. There is dry camping, T-sites or Resort camping. T sites have only electric and water. Resort has everything. Lake swimming not your thing? Pool available with showers and store. Well managed and great family summer fun.

If you’re into boating, a great place to go. Make reservations.

Sites are rustic, they’ve water and electricity, no sewer. There’s a dump station as you leave the park. No store, be sure you’re well stocked with everything before you head out.

All the features of a hotel

This KOA had some really awesome features and gives you most of the convenience of a hotel with the ability to bring your RV and your personal items with you without the hotel price tag. The KOA features a year round heated pool and jacuzzi. The pool area was fenced and had some chairs, tables, and what appeared to be covered grills. The pool is right outside the office building which also has bathrooms and a small convenience store. If they don't have what you are looking for the is a major grocery store about 2 miles away. This KOA is in town. Don't come here if you're looking for a remote destination. The other side of the exterior fence has houses and businesses.

Each site has a picnic table and some had a stand up bbq pit. The spaces are really close together and separated by a row of rocks. Up front they have 4 little single room cabins that say there can sleep 6 but have no bathrooms. There are some upgraded RV spaces that have outside grill areas with sinks and counter space.

The spaces have very little shade if any! Be very aware of the weather when you visit. It'll be hot during the day and very cold at night depending on the time of year. You will be randomly assigned a space unless you pay the fee to have an assigned space.

The KOA features a small fenced playground with a tetherball, swing set, merry go round, and a table with an umbrella. On the other side of the KOA there is a small fenced dog run. I also saw a stand alone sink near one of the loops. There is an activity center if you're hosting a group event. It had a few standing bbq pits outside. At the entrance was an air pump for filling tires.

Close but so far away

Stumbled upon this great little spot while looking for some stealth camping near the salt river. Great sites, nice park, water & electricity at each site. Close to town, the salt river & canyon lake. Friendly staff, well maintained.

Great

Great beaches as Kong’s s it’s not too crowded

Safe and awesome

I just was at this campground and a issue with showers happened. The security on duty told us he had.a.call into his management. Within an hour the general manage showed and and things were fixed. At 10pm a security guard and the general manager had things operational. I will add that at checked in the guard pointed oit the phone for problems and it worked to perfection. Thanks management! Guard also told us not to have a sleepless because of trouble or.noise especially after 10pm. Those things would.be takin care of ASAP. So if you had sleepless because of noise and did not call for assistants shame.on you not canyon lake. The gentleman i checked in with would corrected the situation.

Fabulous. Perfect trails. Campground very nice and great people

Mikes of mountain biking trails which were spectacular. We’ve ridden lots of places and this is definitely one of my favorite. Trails are not difficult technically but a great workout and so pretty. Campground spots are spacious, bathrooms nice and clean. Sites fill up because it’s so great so you have to book ahead. We had to camp in overflow area one night which was still fine then was able to grab a canceled spot.

Great camping!

We brought our pop up camper and stayed at the lower burnt corral shoreline over the week days. I heard from other campers who were more regular that it gets busy on the weekends and tends to fill up, but we did not have that problem. We ended up having plenty of room and privacy.

There was plenty of shade. Pit toilets, although some of them were pretty nasty

We were told by the ranger there that Tonto passes are valid, although signs are posted that stated otherwise.

There were also spots with pads and water spigots spread every few sites. Tables with benches at every site.

This instantly became a favorite spot with nearly every spot located right on the water. Great for swimming, kayaking, fishing, and boating.

Warning: DO NOT TAKE APACHE TRAIL ROUTE! Take AZ87-AZ188.

Photos titled ‘aerial view’ are from a private helicopter tour of the lakes I took about a year ago but they are so amazing that I had to include them. They are all of Apache lake where Burnt Corral is located.

Great place, close to civilization yet remote

I use the north entrance off Bush highway. I've camped here 5 or 6 times. No water or bathrooms. Leave no trace. You need a permit and gate code. Most ATVers but not loud during the week. Ive had wild horses walk by. Love it there.

Great place, near Phoenix but feels remote

Large campsites in main loop. Great for boondocking or not. Nice bathrooms, great trails, good location. Helpful staff, I love it there.

Nice semi remote campground

This campground is found between the town's of Superior and Miami, Arizona, so if you are not am experienced camper, you could always drive to town in a pinch if you needed something or forgot something.

Some of the campground is along a wash, with a small pond on the west side. The official campground site is relatively small and has more established sites, but remote camping is found further down the road. Oak Flats Road provides a few miles of rougher trails (some might call them Jeep trails, but someone who knows what they are doing could get through most of it in a car) and would be great for a short overland type camping experience.

There are some great views with just a short hike and can make for a rewarding one day camp, or camp for a couple days.

There are is a bathroom within the small, more established campground, but no other facilities (including trash) so you must pack in and pack out whatever you are going to use.

Across the street from a metro station

I stayed 5 nights here, back in with FHU. The staff was very friendly and the proximity to downtown is great! I was all the way at the front near the bathroom/office, but also near the street. A lot of foot traffic throughout the night being in an urban setting. Next time, I'll request to be a little further back into the park itself.

Unexpectedly Awesome

I had family coming to visit & we planned to drive up to the Grand Canyon to camp when the road was closed due to snow. We searched for a different camping option but there was snow everywhere so we ended up here. It wasn't what was planned but it was amazing. My family had a great time & even climbed the Flat Iron. There were little kangaroo rats, bunnies, the sounds of coyotes, & stars were amazing. Definitely will go back for more.

Kayak Camp in this Gorgeous Desert Canyon

About 2 miles upriver from the Mormon Flat Dam, the Tonto National Forest maintains 4 official campsites, complete with a covered picnic table and fire pit at each, as well as composting toilets and a great boat dock for larger boats. 

The sites were in a bit of disrepair and the bathroom wasn’t stocked and smelled a bit, but the views and location of this site can’t be beat!  Just come prepared with what you need. And, there was an emergency call button by the bathrooms (something we have never seen in any place we’ve camped?). No drinking water available, so be sure to bring at least 1 gallon per person per day.

Warnings: We found that this site could either feel extremely remote, or a total party scene with music blaring from a boat moored at the dock, depending on who is there and how they got there. Also, the wind can blow strongly up/down this canyon, so check the weather before heading in. 

Keep on the lookout for lots of birds and Big Horned Sheep as you paddle/boat up river to the Horse Mesa Dam area. The dam is on lock down (you won’t actually see it), but the journey upriver is absolutely gorgeous with fascinating geology and beautiful Sonoran Desert cactus!

First-come, first-served, and…FREE!

Camping alongside the riverbank

This ‘campground’ is only open from October through March for overnight stays (Friday and Saturday nights only). Also why I only gave it 3 stars. Lots of sites to choose from, first come first serve. Public restroom/out houses (large tanks underground) dumpster in the parking lot for easy disposal on your way out. The best thing about this place is that I’ve seen the Salt River horses almost every visit. They come walking right up to the campsite, such beautiful animals.

An Oxymoron: Sonoran Desert Lakefront Camping

Just about 6.5 miles from Roosevelt Dam, along a seriously narrow, winding, and mountainous dirt road, lies a great camping oasis along Apache Lake in the middle of the Superstition Mts.  The road is well-maintained and well graded, but the short drive from the dam to the campground took us about 30 minutes with our little trailer and 4-wheel drive truck. Seriously, not for the faint of heart if you are pulling a trailer.  We saw lots of smaller cars manage it fine.

This medium-sized sized campground offers lovely sites along the water and along the hill in the trees.  For $12 per night, it offers many amenities: nice waterfront sites with picnic table, fire ring, boat ramp, drinking water, plenty of pit toilets (clean given the number of people at the campground that week), and group sites.  There are some easy pull-thru sites for RV's.

Hiking, paddling, boating and cycling opportunities are available right from the campground. We paddled up the Salt River to the dam and back for a fun afternoon adventure.  Bird life abounds in both the lake and river!

Closest town is Globe, about 40 miles away, has grocery stores, Walmart, gas stations, etc. So come prepared with what you need!

First-come, first-served, no reservations.

Note: The campground didn’t have any mobile service available with Verizon.

Ranger Review of Primus Micron Trail Stove at Apache Lake in AZ

When traveling to new places, I want new things to look at and unique experiences when I camp. I couldn't have asked for a more unique first day in AZ when I made my way to Apache Lake Campground (at the Marina) in AZ. It was late when I arrived, and I was starved, so it was the perfect time to try my new Micron Trail Stove with Piezo by Primus!

CAMPGROUND REVIEW:

It says that it takes over an hour to go less than 30 miles to the campground, and I assumed this was one of those GPS errors…until I saw the road to get there. Mostly washboard dirt, a little asphalt and a lot of twists and turns. Upper speed limits of 20 mph made it very clear that the GPS knew what it was yapping about. At one point, I thought I was on a movie set and seriously didn't know how any car coming the opposite direction would pass, if it came to that. But all that aside, it was a beautiful, peaceful drive! Just don't do it in the dark. It's called the Apache Trail and it's Arizona's oldest highway, originally built in 1905. Serious history here! Absolutely worth the drive, if you don't have a fear of heights and have extra time to kill. It passes through a little town called Tortilla Flat and there is apparently an ice cream shop there with prickly pear gelato!

About the campground. It's deep in a valley, on Apache Lake. What a view!! Down a steep road that's about a mile off the main highway (Route 88), you can see the camp before you even get there. Once there, it's a little confusing to find what you need because signage isn't terribly apparent and it's a kind of "lazy-kicked-back" sort of atmosphere. Nothing up scale about it, at all. But that's part of it's charm. I guess I was there at the tail end of the "off" season, so it wasn't terribly busy. It's not fancy, by a long shot, but what you need is at your fingertips. You have to check in at the main building, which isn't very clear, especially upon arrival in the dark, but in the office, they will take your money, show you a map, and point you in the right direction.

There's a section for RVs with hookups (and they do have a dump station). There are restrooms in a few spots, and while not fancy, they let you "do the job" you came to do. Also some showers, and again, not the Ritz, but there is water to rinse with. I'd suggest shower shoes. The camping is kind of cool, though. It's dispersed. I mean, there are many little spots nested in the trees, around the lake, on the sand, where you can just pick a spot and stay. It was only $10 to pop a squat (I think it says $5 online, but that is incorrect). Some are far better than others (on little jetties or in the trees) but they all have sweet lake views and fire rings! You are allowed to collect dead wood to use, so that makes it easier to fire up at evenings end, but they sell firewood bundles too.

I had a little spot right off the lake, and it was quiet. A few night sounds, but nothing more than fish and birds. The only thing that bothered me were some bright lights, almost like on a jet plane, that were at the other end of the marina. I just positioned my tent so that I didn't get the runway lights right through my screen. In the morning, I took advantage of the big huge bathtub outside my tent (most people call that a lake) and took a very quick dip, since it was like ice water. Boy was it refreshing!!! Perfect little site for my first night in the desert. Not dessert. Big difference.

GEAR REVIEW:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I occasionally get the awesome opportunity to review incredibly gear in exchange for an honest review. This time, I was able to have a hot meal on Apache Lake thanks to the rockin' Micron Trail Stove with piezo by Primus.

This little think only weights about 3.2 oz, and folds up like a little contortionist to fit in a stuff sack that's actually got room enough to throw in a lighter. Some stoves have skin tight bags for storage, but this one is great! It has a built in piezo lighter and is easy to screw on a canister for use.

First impression: I love the size, the weight, it's solid construction, the stuff sack is the perfect size.

What I don't like: The piezo fizzled the third time I used it. Ugh.

It's super easy to use, even without reading directions. Just make sure it's screwed on the canister tightly. You don't want to strip the threads and have it launching into space, but if you don't twist it on hard enough, your flame will fail you and you'll sit there thinking you're going to have to eat your oatmeal cold. If that latter happens, try twisting just a little harder, and you'll get a better gas flow that'll give you the flame you need! We don't want hangry campers at bedtime.

While the piezo on mine didn't actually work by the time I got it to my camping trip, I found that I much preferred lighting it with a lighter, anyhow. I thought that the location and way that the piezo worked was a little delicate. Like I might break the whole stove by flicking it. Turns out that they make the same stove without the igniter for about $5 cheaper, and it saves you 14g of weight by not having it. So you have a choice!

Bottom line, I still love the stove. I'm normally an alcohol stove gal, so this was a great chance to explore the idea of a canister version to cook with. I can absolutely see this little Primus Micron making it's way into my cooler weather arsenal so that I can get more hot water, faster, for things like coffee, water bottles for my sleeping bag, and cocoa!

Large sites, great view of the Superstition Mountains

Camped here for two nights and enjoyed it very much. Sites are large and well maintained. We opted for a site with electrical and water ($30 vs $20) so there were mostly RVs. Large pull through with fire pit and bbq grill and metal picnic table. Many have views of the Superstition Mountains. We reserved ahead of time which is good as the campground was full when we arrived. There is overflow camping if no sites available. Bathrooms were clean and one had showers and filtered water, a nice bonus. I only saw two bathrooms (there might have been another in the newer loop but we didn’t explore that) so they were not real close to our site. Several hiking trails directly accessible from the park. A variety of ranger led programs but unfortunately none during our stay. You do have to put up with the annoying train whistle from about 10-6 from nearby Goldsfield “Ghost town” but otherwise it is probably the quietest campground I’ve ever stayed at. Only issue we had was with over-eager volunteers who yelled at us and told us we couldn’t park outside the showers. (We had moved from our site to use the showers after our hike and before leaving).

Dessert camping

This site was nice and provided a lot of amenities, however desert camping proved not to be my style. Tons or cholla cactus create threat to pets or even people when trying to maneuver in the dark. Easy place for beginners to get acquainted with camping and lots of activities available.

Truly Unexpected!

For the price of $12 per night, this National Forest campground in the Superstition Mountains can’t be beat.  Sites are medium-sized with no privacy in between, but each site has a water hookup and a sewer dump. There are a couple of bathrooms with running water as well.  Just hook up your solar panel and you have everything you need for your RV. The views in the area are jaw dropping, from just about every angle. The road is close by, but you don’t hear much of anything after dark.  

Within walking distance is the hamlet of Tortilla Flat, a funny little tourist trap of a place with a general store (don’t go seeking groceries though), a restaurant, live music, a post office, and the ubiquitous ice cream and fudge shop.  The road up to this campground is full of crazy twists and turns and very narrow, so would only recommend it for the experienced cyclists not for kids/families. There are beautiful off the beaten track trails and backroads to hike or mountain bike.  And, bring your kayaks for a phenomenal day on Canyon Lake and a paddle up the Salt River -- very easy (with the exception of wind) and beautiful!

The closest town with a grocery store and gas station is Apache Junction, about 17 miles from the campground.

Great View, Great Trails

This is one of many outstanding Arizona State Parks. Sites are clean and most level with mix of electric and non electric. Suggest you make reservations well ahead for busy winter months!

Best qualified 55+ resort

This golf resort had everything you could ever want in retirement. They have trailers for rental and sale, and full RV hook up spots.

They have every game you could think of, every event you could think of… They have a fitness center, and a bistro on site. They are sitting on a beautiful golf course that's reasonably priced to golf at (about $1 a hole). They have many pools, and hottubs, food trucks, concerts, seminar and craft halls, a library, and a baseball field to just name a few things.

This place isn't just a resort, it's a city standing on its own. You could definitely live here in your own world and never feel like you are missing anything from the outside.

Age qualified resort with lots of extras

My husband and I asked if we could stay there even though we aren't 55, and they allowed us to do so. We've found most age qualified resorts will let you stay if you don't have kids or pets.

This is a busy little 55+ RV community. There are many who live there full time, but many who come and go like we do. There's lots of activities like shuffleboard, pickleball, billiards, card tables, bocce ball, karaoke, bingo, concerts, seminars and exercise classes like Zumba or Tai chi. There are many clubs to join that do singles events, food events, arts & crafts events, prayer groups, music groups, volunteer work, bus trips, card tournaments, dancing, pool activities such as exercise classes and water volleyball. There are also lots of off-site events such as hiking, golfing, bowling and casino nights.

The resort itself has a sewing room, craft room, ballroom, fitness center (with an assortment of cardio and weightlifting machines), library, computer room, two laundry rooms, two pools (87 degrees) and one hot tub. There's a mail room, billiards room, card room and shower rooms. There's a dog run, golf green, horseshoe, darts, pickleball, shuffleboard, bocce ball courts/areas. One pool allows for only 18 and up, while the other pool allows 18 and under. There are grills and picnic ramadas scattered about for everyone's use.

Cell coverage for T-mobile is great here, there are lots of big name stores (like Walmart) all within walking distance from this resort. And in the case you have an on demand water heater like I do, the water pressure here is great!

Great campground

Nice area. Didn't catch any fish and lots of trees and rocks near water by camps. Didn't notice a dock till we were leaving. Enough room between neighbors, clean bathrooms. No phone service but it was nice to be off the grid. We will definitely camp here again!

Primitive campground with vault toilets

Just south of highway 60, West of Superior, AZ (about 4 miles). Paved road to the turnoff for the campsite and then dirt but not too rough. My Prius made it just fine. Though there are definitely some roads farther on that are extremely uneven granite dells.

Two pit toilets are the only amenities, but there is plenty of hiking. You can hear road noise from highway 60. There’s a nearby mine and I occasionally heard muffled explosions but I did not feel them. On two of the days I was there I saw or at least heard low flying fighter jets (but within FAA regs) go by and a couple of multi-rotor helicopters. Had the skies not been overcast I’d have seen all of them. They were very loud but it was maybe five minutes total out of my week-long stay.

There’s no WiFi, even if you have a yaggi antenna. There’s enough cell service for text and phone calls (maybe/iffy) on the Verizon network.