the dyrt
THE BEST CAMPING NEAR
Tonto National Forest, ARIZONA
119 Reviews 148 Campgrounds
Retrieving Results
EXPLORE
Most Recent Tonto National Forest Camping Reviews
Ugh

No real access to water from campgrounds. Unkempt and not the outdoorsy camping we were looking for. Lots of double camps that were decent looking but nothing cool enough for us to stay. Definitely take the time to go to Lower Burnt Corral campground for a scenic drive and better camping.

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.

Great winter camping

Campsite 36

Spent the night close to home as my dog had never been camping and I wanted to see if he liked it (he does!).

Booked online about two weeks prior for a Monday night stay and most of the campground was available. When I arrived about 75-80% was full, so good idea to book ahead.

Some of the sites are super close together, especially on the newer loops (sites 75-104 and 106-134). They'd be ok with a trailer, but I'd feel cramped in with my tent. The main part of the campground where I was is a bit more spread out, with vegetation between most of the sites.

My site had a big pad for the tent that was raked, a picnic table, a fire ring/grill, easy access to the hiking trails, and a great view of the mountains.

Beware during the winter as the wind can come up during the night and morning hours, so stake your tent down well. It got up to maybe 15 mph, so not super strong, but typical for the edges of the valley.

Staff was friendly, and the bathroom was clean. I didn't use the shower.

One specific note about my site 36: don't book it if you'll be taking a 5th wheel or really any trailer. The access road is narrow and the parking spot is at a 90° angle so it'd be very difficult to back into. Better to pick one of the pull thru spots. If you have a campervan or are tent camping then it's a great spot.

I'm glad I came here. Can't wait to come back! This would be an epic place during a full moon, or really anytime it's clear to see the stars. Too bad it was cloudy my entire stay.

Ranger Review: AfterShokz Trekz Air at Fremont Saddle Campground

Campground Review: Ill start off by mentioning that this is a backcountry site in the desert and will require some serious hiking to get to. Plan ahead before camping here since you will need to bring in all your water and temperatures fluctuate widely depending on the time of year. Ok now on to why I loved this site!

The Fremont Saddle is located about 2.5 miles in on the Peralta trail and follows a pretty moderate to challenging climb up the mountain. Right at the campground you can see an incredible view of several of the nearby peaks and explore further onto several other branching trails. The campground itself is not well defined since this is a dispersed site though there is a single campfire ring that someone built right off the trail. (I believe fires are discouraged here however) The park rule for camping is that you can set up your tent anywhere that is off the trail (there is a distance specified at the trailhead). Check out my photos of the trailhead signs for more info.

There aren’t any water sources available so make sure to pack in whatever you will need and consider that it can get very dry during the day so you will be drinking a lot. Give yourself enough time at the campground so that you can set up and explore the area since it is incredibly beautiful. One of my favorite things about this site is that you can get 360 views at different points so you could have an amazing sunrise and sunset.

Overall, this is by far the best site I came across while hiking the Peralta Trail and is well worth the challenging trek to get here. Just remember to be prepared and give yourself plenty of time.

……………………….

Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to try out new and interesting products at campgrounds I visit. On this trip, I tried out the AfterShokz Trekz Air bone conduction headphones. My takeaways from using the open ear headphones are:

  1. Hear the world: One of the things that really got me excited about these headphones right off the bat was the ability to her what is going on around you while listening to your music. My wife and I are constantly out doing physical activity including runnings biking, hiking, climbing, and kayaking. For many of these activities hearing your surroundings can be a vital factor and can limit the ability to listen to music. These headphones are game changers and perform incredibly in this role. It often sounds like your music is playing on a speaker while wearing them and it was a shock the first time I tried them out. While wearing the Trekz Airs I was able to have a conversation with my brother hiking next to me and could easily tell when another hiker wanted to pass.
  2. Comfort: since these heaphones sit on the bones in front of your ear canal you would expect them to put pressure on your head and be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. However, I found than to be even less noticable on my head than my in ear headphones which bother me after an hour or so. They have nice pads which allow them to rest comfortably and the design is amazing how they lightly rest on your ears without squeezing your head.
  3. Sound quality: A major concern with using bone conduction is that the quality, depth, and volume will be unacceptable. I tested this out on the Airs by playing a variety of different music styles in different environments and while completing different activities. Overall, I was able to achieve rich, quality sound consistently. The one challenge I found was in noisy environments where I wasn't moving and getting the volume up meant feeling the vibrations. However, this is not what they were engineered far and when the volume is up while running I am unable to feel the vibration. Also, they stay in place when you move around so the sound stays consistent throughout your listening.

Overall, I would say these headphones are well worth the value and an amazing addition not only to your camping gear but also perfect for any other high intensity activities. They have a long lasting charge, great sound, and are comfortable to wear for hours on end. I liked the headphones after trying them out that I ended up buying a second pair for my wife. I can’t recommend these headphones enough.

Ranger Review: Magna Trail boot at Peralta Canyon Campground

The Peralta Canyon Campground is located in the Superstition Mountains and includes a 5.1 miles out and back hike to Fremont Saddle on the Peralta Trail. From Fremont Saddle you get an amazing view of Weaver's Needle (see photos) and the surrounding valley. The hike up to Fremont Saddle was nearly all up hill and of moderate difficulty. You are allowed to set up camp at various points away from the trail, but if you are willing to wait to get to the top before setting up, it is definitely worth it. There is way more space to make camp and get comfortable. Also the views are much more stunning and then sleeping right off the trail.

It is important to note that there are no water sources, but definitely always will be a heat source… (there is a dried up riverbed which may flow during the rainy season?). The trailhead was very easy to find with our GPS and there is a large parking lot at the beginning with plenty of spaces. Because of the dry climate, you are not allowed to make open fires when camping in this area. There is an alternative route back down the mountain called the Cave Trail (which we did not take) which apparently is very neat, but should be done with people who know the area because that trail is not well marked or obvious.

The landscape and whole area was very beautiful (especially to someone not from the area like me) and I would definitely recommend others check out Peralta!

Product Review

As as Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time — on this trip I tested the Magna Trail Hiking Boot from Vivobarefoot

I was not been happy with the prior pair of hiking boots that I own and I was excited to try something new with the Magna Trail boot. If you have not hiked in shoes that try to emulate walking barefoot (which I hadn't), these definitely will take some time to get used to. At first I felt like I was feeling every rock I stepped on in the heel of my foot. It wasn't painful, but was something I was hyperfocusing on. However, after about an hour of hiking in them, I quickly forgot about that and the bumpy ground and rocks no longer bothered me at all. I also imagine this being even less of an issue if I were hiking in a flatter, less rocky environment like the forest.

One thing I particularly enjoyed about the shoe was how lightweight and breathable they are. The boots didn't weigh me down at all while still offering most of the support of a heavy, sturdy hiking boot. They also allowed my feet to breathe and not get super sweaty. There is a neoprene sleeve that tightens around your ankle which served me two purposes: 1) it provided extra support to my ankle and 2) it kept out annoying rocks and dust from sneaking into my shoes. While I felt sturdy enough, if you are someone who struggles with balance, these may not be perfect for you.

Lastly, a major advantage of all Vivo shoes is how they fold up and can be packed when space is tight. Each of their models bends and and can be folded without harming the shoe at all. I found this very useful on this past trip. See the pictures to see what I mean! Also important to note how stylish and attractive each of the models of shoes Vivo Barefoot offers!

Pros to Magna Trail:

-Weight. Super lightweight and breathable shoe that still offers enough support when hiking

-Size. The ability to fold up and pack in tight spaces is a huge advantage compared most other hiking boots which usually take up a quarter of your bag.

-Comfort. While there is a learning curve, once you get used to the shoe, the feeling of walking barefoot feels more natural

Aesthetics. They sexy af for a hiking shoe.

Cons of the Magna Trail-:

-Comfort. If you not used to walking barefoot or do the majority of your walks in a rocky environment this MAY be an issue. '

-Support. If you are someone who struggles with balance and usually uses a high ankle, heavier boot, these may not be for you.

Overall, I really like the Magna Trail shoes and am excited to hike more in the future with them. They are light, comfortable and stylish to boot! (Get it?!?!) Would definitely recommend!

Dispersed Boondock Desert Camping

Turn off Hwy 74 between Apache Junction and Florence, Turn East on Cottonwood Canyon Rd. and there is dispersed camping with ZERO amenities starting in about 2 thru 5 miles on both sides of the road.

This is a very popular off road spot for Motocross motorcycles, Jeeps, ATV's, and Side by Sides so be prepared for some dust and some noise from vehicles. There are lots of trails to ride.

This is Arizona State Trust Land so a permit is required but can be purchased and downloaded from their website at a cost of $21.00 and it is valid for 1 year for the family pass.

The location was clean and well cared for buy the people that camp there, and there are rock rings for fires but you will need to bring your own wood to burn as there is little in the desert and nowhere close to purchase any.

We stayed with a group in November and the weather and the sunrise and the sunsets were absolutely amazing to behold. We will definitely be back both for the wide open spaces and the great places to ride.

Boat access only

This camping area is on Saguaro Lake and only offers boat-in camping. You'll need a Tonto National forest permit with watercraft sticker. It's beautiful here. The lake itself can be crowded but I think it's worth a chance, especially considering most are coming for day use. Nearby you can do Salt Water River Tubing or visit the (now second) tallest fountain in the world at Fountain Hills. Once you get off the highway, the drive down is beautiful. The water always looks so blue and seeing wild horses is almost a guarantee!

Bugs and bees but easy lake access.

Bugs, bees and trash seem to be more prevalent than normal but you can find easy access to the shoreline for fishing or camping. You need a permit to visit which can be purchased at the Marina. If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend the flats or the yellow cliffs (you’ll see the signs). Great fishing lake! The drive is beautiful and towns of Carefree and Cave Creek are pleasant and unique. If you go in monsoon season, you’re sure to see some amazing skies! Cell service is intermittent.

Not a campground; area with endless campgrounds

"Rim refers to the Mogollon Rim that extends nearly 200 miles from just southwest of Flagstaff to the White Mountains of eastern Arizona." https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/regions/southwestern/RimLakes/index.shtml

The recreation area encompasses the following lakes: Bear Canyon, Black Canyon, Woods Canyon, Chevelon Canyon, Knoll, and Willow Springs. You'll find a wealth of established campgrounds with facilities and even more opportunities for dispersed camping. Most of your destinations in this area do not require 4x4 but it'd be very wise. It will take a lot longer to get to where ever you're going and you won't be able to explore quite as much. In rain or snow, it's likely you'll get stuck. So, if it's an option, take the 4x4. Hiking and photo opportunities abound! You may be the only one around so be prepared.

National Forest Campground

Nice spot . No hook ups ,full bath and showers .Very nice and quiet but noisy on weekends. Helpful staff.

Quiet Camp ground

It was a nice little spot not too busy or difficult to get to. We were the only ones there. Falling asleep to the sound of the creek was nice but road noise was a little too close.

Ranger Review: INA389 INNO Bike Rack at Turf Trailer Lodge

TO CLARIFY: The two stars is for the CAMPGROUND, not the Bike Rack.  The Bike Rack receives 5 stars.

Campground Review

If you want to LIVE somewhere in an RV or Mobile Home, this is a good place for you, possibly.  If you are a camper for a night or two, this is not your spot.

This “campground” is in the middle of a concrete jungle and does not have greenery, or a playground, or any amenities.  

There is electric and water hookups at each site.  Most of the sites were occupied but there were a couple vacant spaces.  

Again, not for camping.  This is for residing in.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products for free in exchange for my honest review.  This is one such product:

It was really fun to take the INNO INA389 Tire Hold II Bike Rack out for a spin.  My husband and I decided to install it without looking at the instructions to see how easy and intuitive the set up was.  The answer: very easy and intuitive! After we were done hooking it on, we looked at the instructions and we had done it 100% correctly.  

Basically you have to have an existing roof rails on your car, and then this just easily pops right on.  You latch the front and back to your rails, then heft the bike up (the hardest part of the whole process; you have to be strong enough to lift a bike onto a car) and press the front and back loops into place and boom!  You’re done! It was as easy as that.

We started out driving cautiously, since we’d never used a rooftop rack before, but quickly became comfortable and knew it would stay firm.  We took surface streets to the campground to be sure it was safe, and the highway home since we knew it was perfect.

I highly recommend this rack if you like to take your bike out places and still have easy access to your trunk.  Easy to install and easy to remove. It even has a key-lock on the top so the bike can’t be stolen.

Great product!

Nice shoreline get-a-way

I spent 4 days here in October of 2018. It is a nice and quite place with dispersed camping right on Apache lake. There are multiple camping spots with fire-pits in the shade or you can pull right down near the water and walk out your front door right on a gravely beach and into the water.

While I was here I did encounter other campers both in tents and in RV's, the road in is about 10 miles of washboard dirt road from the Roosevelt Dam side but it is still passable in a motor home or any other high clearance vehicle. Some people just come for the day and still others seem to stay a few nights, but over all there is lots of room and no-one has to camp close to one another if they don't want to.

There is also a non-paved boat ramp marked out on the beach and being that the beach was more gravel than sand I never saw anyone get stuck or even spin a tire while either launching a boat or pulling one out.

There are also 3 port-a-potties located on a trailer and a dumpster there to throw away your trash, but unfortunately people always seem to leave some trash laying around. for that reason and that only I rate it a 4 out of 5.

Best car camping around!

One of the few places to car camp with a lake in Tucson! Wife and I had a wonderful weekend here in October. The lots are huge, have big food boxes/bear boxes and the hosts are super kind. I could have done without the annoying drunk late night yellers, but a lovely place nonetheless.

Nice place to stay

I am not sure where the pictures posted here are from but it is definitely not from this campground.

It is a nice little campground with a pool and small launder mat room. Bathrooms are always clean. The spaces are close together so if you are spot picky (want more of a personal space feel) you will need to get recommendations or visit it to mark your spots.

Saturday nights include karaoke by the pool or live cover band. My kids enjoy staying here but be warned that "resort" should be taken lightly. There is a "playground" which consists of a metal swing set, uncovered and a small basketball court. This is also right near the dog pin area.

You are off a major road so near by shopping is a breeze but you will not be forced to hear the traffic so no worries there.

Nice place to stat

We stayed there years ago in our RV as a young family of 4 w our dog and cat! We were told to take our dog to a boarding facility bc he’s a pit bull! And this was back in the day when most sites were 55+ and this was the only one we could get into and we were visiting people in Glendale! It was quite the drive!

Rustic and Charming: Epitome of AZ

Great modern facilities including showers, lots of hiking trails leading into the Superstitions from the campground, old mining town right next door which also has great hiking and is worth the visit.

Weekend Camp Spot

Overnight camping permitted on weekends only. lots of picnic areas and camping right next to the Salt River. Fires permitted in grills/rings except in dry season. This spot is typically not as crowded as Phon D Sutton, downstream. Tonto Pass required. Majority of area is shaded throughout the day!

Great Picnic spot right outside the city

First, I’m pretty sure this spot does not allow overnight camping. Coon’s Bluff, about five minutes up the road, does allow overnight camping, but only on weekends.

You will need a Tonto Recreation Pass. They can be purchased around the valley at most convenience/grocery stores/wal marts for $8. if you do not purchase this and display it on your rear view, you are subject to $100 ticket. just buy one (or a couple to keep handy in vehicle)

Phon D is a great day spot, yet can get extremely packed on weekends. During warm/hot days, entire families will pack in and bbq next. This means lots of people and lots of trash, which is only reason why I’m giving it 4 stars. Join the cool kids club and bring an extra trash bag or two, and help us pick up everyone’s mess!

Spot details:

This spot is right on the lower salt river. The water temperature stays pretty unchanged year round, but is amazing for summer play time. There are numerous picnic tables, as well as multiple Ramada’s. These picnic tables are spread out throughout this region, so if there are crowds, head upstream and keep checking for an empty table!

River has multiple swim spots, as well as an area to jump off some rocks (not cliff jumping, these rocks are a couple feet high at best, so good for young ones that can swim)

This area is also prime for seeing some of the ‘Native’ horses that reside in the region. So, if you’d like to enjoy a peaceful day at the river, swim, bbq, and maybe see some wild horses, this is a spot to check out!

there are a couple trails from people meandering. One follows upstream and shoots you out just before Coons Bluff. I personally like to bring my raft/tube up this trail, set off in the water (stay left) and jump back on shore just pass the rock jump area/main swim hole.

Close to the city, deep in the wilderness

Reservations are necessary, as many people grab these spots, and often for long stays (14 day maximums). Due to extreme heat, I recommend visiting in the fall. Winter, spring, and summer can tend to very uncomfortable.

Loved the variety of hikes here, anything from easy to medium-difficult. The individual sites are pretty small and hard to put a tent anywhere but the paved drives into each nook, much of the ground is covered in small plants and cacti. There's a picnic table/bench thing at each spot, plus a fire pit grill (which is the only place you can burn). Bathrooms and showers are on site and worked great during our stay. Bring plenty of water to hydrate with!

First to Review
Clean and Close

We spent two Fridays in a row here as we wanted to camp and try our new trailer. From home it was a 20 minute drive yet it felt like we were secluded. Very clean with electric and water at each site. Planning a New Years camping week at the end of the year but will likely be there again before that.

Camp on the water

Get there early for the best spots. Was able to camp in the water and wake up to playing on the water. Night fishing is good as well.

So much fun

This was a wonderful place to camp with family and water toys!

First to Review
Very nice spread out-free

Free camping

fires allowed during summer season

spread out lots

lots of hiking near by

Ranger Review: ICEMULE at Box Bar

Campground Review

What a great find!  We had no idea what to expect when we rolled down a long and lonely road from Phoenix out to Box Bar.  But other people sure knew about it! There were lots of party people there, playing music, floating in the river, and enjoying some BBQ.  

Box Bar is not fancy, but it is FREE!  There are no reservations and no set camp areas, but there are plenty of flat and shaded spots perfect for a tent.  There is a large dirt parking area that includes 3 port-o-potties. If you were going to camp here, the potties are quite far from the camp spots, so keep that in mind.  

The best part -- the gorgeous river!  The Rio Verde runs right through here and is the main attraction.  At Box Bar there is a small dam that holds the water in just enough for a calm small lake to appear.  There is also quicker waters that can be kayaked or floated on. Many kids were putting in and going around the bend, getting back out, and doing it over and over again!  The water is cool and refreshing in the Arizona sun.

When we went, it was a Saturday.  So I’ll be anxious to go back on a weekday or Friday to see if it is as crowded other days.  It wasn’t OVER crowded, but the loud music can get old :)

Overall, a truly great find.  Only 30 minutes from Phoenix too!

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time.  At Box Bar, I got to use the IceMule Pro Large Cooler.

Before heading out, we packed up sodas, juice boxes, apples, and a tupperware of cookies into the IceMule and poured ice all over the top.  The temperature that day was over 100 degrees, but when we got to the campsite and opened the top, the ice was still there and the drinks and food were freezing cold.  Never had such a refreshing soda! I’m used to having to drink a warm soda or water while adventuing, so this was quite the treat.

Besides keeping the refreshments ice cold, the backpack was also super comfortable to wear.  The straps are super padded, as well as the bag where is rests against the back. I am a super weak person and it was easy and fun to wear.  

I totally recommend this cooler to anyone wanting to reward a long hike, boat, or camp with freezing cold treats.  

For more info, visit: https://icemulecoolers.com/

Ranger Review: OOFOS at Houston Mesa Campground

Campground Review

What a great day at Houston Mesa!  We are from Phoenix and the weather has been 115 every day, so we needed a break from the heat.  This campsite was only an hour and a half from our house, and there was a 30 degree temperature drop.  Loved the relief!

Each of the sites has a lot of space and are well spread out and mostly shaded.  Our site was gorgeous with big trees and no one we could see or hear nearby. When we arrived, one of the camp hosts came right to our spot in a golf cart to check if we needed anything and to give us a pamphlet on bears (yikes!).  

There are several bathrooms with flush toilets, and each was clean and well cared for.  Showers are there and are coin operated ($3 for 6 minutes). Firewood is also available to purchase for $7 a bundle.  

Features we loved: privacy, clean bathrooms, and they even had an adorable nature trail!  The kids loved running from sign to sign. There is also an amphitheater there, if you were having a family or group gathering.  

The campground is rather close to the highway, so you do get some noise off of that, but it really wasn’t bad and didn’t bother me a bit.

Really recommend this place, we can’t wait to come back!

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time.  At Houston Mesa, I got to test out some OOFOS OOahh Sport Slide Sandals.

These sandals are SO SOFT and SQUISHY!  They claim to absorb 37% more than other foam type shoes, and I sure believe it.  They are incredible soft and take a lot of pressure off my feet.

I chose the slip on ones because I like to wear socks with my sandals (haha) especially while camping.  Going in and out of the tent I could put these on and off so easily, I loved it.

The only negative thing I have to say about them, is that I got a small blister on my instep while wearing them (barefoot).  This is hardly a negative remark because I have VERY sensitive skin (my feet always get blisters if I’m not wearing socks) and I have been wearing these all day every day since I got them!  

I promise these will be your new favorite sandals!  Perfect for camping, the gym, around town, or lounging around the house!  

Grab your own pair at https://www.oofos.com/

For a video of the campground from our trip, visit: https://youtu.be/ZAtHtVGTjU4

Very nice

Very clean. some sites have an outdoor kitchen. close to the road but we didn’t notice noise. A decent size dog run and a small rec center that I didn’t have a chance to see.

Camp on a spectacular lake with mountain views

Beautiful drive to the camp grounds and plenty of spots. Small sites with not much privacy, but if you luck out there are some corner sites with privacy. Many sites are on the water and all of them have ramadas

Worst camp spot I have ever visited

Kudos to the wonderfully friendly guard at check-in. However, Canyon Lake Campground was easily the worst stay I have ever encountered at a camp site and I was quickly reminded why I do not stay at shared campgrounds very often. But the temptation of sleeping next to a lake and the gentle lapping of waves on the shore lured us in. There was no gentle lapping, and because our site was full of trash and because the trash bins themselves for the grounds were overflowing, there was a swarm of bees hovering around the trash can area. And what I later realized was likely a sugar high from their regular soda consumption from the cans strewn around, the jacked up bees hovered around our morning breakfast, coffee, and dinner and buzzed us regularly. One truck down the row of tightly crammed tent sites blared loud music over his speaker (yes just one, the other side was already blown out) for most of the sunset, and the site across from us allowed their chihuahua to bark obsessively at every passerby for quite some time. The group directly next to us slept split between a small tent, the truck bed, and inside of their truck. Hardly the "camping" experience most people generally consider. I highly doubt anyone in that camp ground was out to "experience nature" quite the same way that we were.

The more manicured RV sites were on a grass lawn and all led right up to the water, so I imagine their experience, aside from the shared bees and trash cans, could be quite different than ours.

We couldn't run away fast enough in the morning.