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Tonto National Forest, ARIZONA
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Camping Arizona Tonto National Forest
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Day Site Only

No camping at this site. Only for day recreation. There is a fun offroading trail just east here.

Beautiful Views

Beautiful view of the backside of the Superstition Mountains. Most of the way to Roosevelt Lake is a dirt road. All vehicles can drive this trail. Few different lookout points with picnic tables and restrooms.

Love this place!

Easy to get a permit from the ranger station. Just email your name, address, phone number and driver's license number to sm.fs.mesa_ohs@usda.gov and you'll get your permit within 2 days for free. I love that it's not far out of town but an easy place to forget you live in town. I've seen all types of vehicles out there. Better to have a 4 wheel drive with decent clearance for some of the trails. Most camp spots aren't too deep in so it's easiest to access.

Nice quiet campground

Nice private campsites, clean restrooms. If you like TV while camping there is no cable hookup.

Very Small and Tight

The road in is very narrow, with alot of scrub trees hanging over the road. I have a Teardrop and it was about as big as I would take in there. No cell service, bathrooms were ok though.

Peaceful and Clean

There is a self pay machine, but did not work. The campsites are nice and roomy. Says there is a host, but there is not. Overall nice place and has cell phone service.

Pleasant Surprise

My family & I had planned to head to a different campground but it was snowed in. After several hours of driving, we couldn't find anywhere! As a last try, we went to the Lost Dutchman State Park & were pleasantly surprised. We camped for 2 nights & had a great time. Excellent trails, beautiful views, friendly staff… overall a great experience that my 3year old still can't stop talking about.

Great place to stay!

We were here for 4 days and it was a great trip. A very quiet place for such a large park.

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.

Small but secluded

Not very much room for a trailer, mostly tent camping. 

Did get cell phone service there though.

Beautiful setting with a flyover

March 20-22, 2019. Campsite #42. Site was right on the water, as quite a few are. There were other sites available that have amesome elevated views of the lake, and even more sites in between but we opted for the lakeside site(s) and it was perfect for us (2 families, 5 kids, 4 adults and our little pupperino Biscuit). There was a beach area on the grounds which was nice to play around and float about. The camp host, Nick, was great and the campsites and bathrooms were very clean. As we were packing up to leave, three airplanes flew over the lake about 40 feet from the surface of the water, flying threw the canyon. We were definitely caught off guard, but it was super cool and a nice way to say goodbye to a fantastic time at Burnt Corral. We would gladly go back and stay at the same site, or most of them really, with or without the flyover. But after hiking around a bit, for a more primitive or intimate experience, maybe we will try the Upper Burnt Corral area next time.

Very secluded and awesome

The trip to the top of pinal Mountains is a journey,  very cool and beautiful scenic views,  the road is not the best, especially if you don't have a higher clearance vehicle. 

Overall it is Awesome,  took an hour from Globe to the campground because speed is minimal.

Desert for days

Beautiful views, quaint little town, tons of history and scenic beauty to enjoy. Goldfield town is a must, there is so much to do and see there. Just know that the attractions do close once the heat averages about 105 and reopen once the heat has gone down.

Well it had a bathroom...

While working on the Woodbury Wildland Fire here in Arizona my Ambulance was staged at Oak Flat Campground. It was nothing but desert, a few picnic tables, with some trees with nice shade and two bathrooms. It’s probably the least nicest campground I’ve been to. Luckily we weren’t staying there for the night just parked there during the day. It appeared to be free, it was a decent distance off the main highway. If you’re just looking for a place to stop and rest for the night then it’s not a bad spot but I wouldn’t take my family there for a vacation.

Nice!

Great place, laundry, pool and close to town. Each spot is level and very clean restrooms. We spent two months there while my husband received treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. However, the roads are a bit of a challenge.

It’s okay.

Clean, well appointed campground with showers, restrooms, a pool and hot tub, and more! Expensive and the views aren’t very nice, despite being in a beautiful area. The free internet is very patchy and kicks you off every few minutes.

Views of Hot Air Balloons

Big open campground with some hikes nearby. No complaints other than a couple hungry mice at our site.

Needle Rock

Needle rock is located just north of Box Bar. It’s on the Tonto National Forest so you need a Tonto pass. You can buy them in town for 8 dollars or buy them there for 12.

This is a small spot for day use to hike or horseback ride to the river. Not a bad spot but box bar is closer to the river and free

Box Bar on the Verde

Box Bar shoreline is located right on the verde fiver. The parking/camping is about two minutes walking distance from the river.

We didn’t camp, just came down for the day. This is a fun spot to swim and picnic. This is free and not on Tonto National Forest, so you don’t need a Tonto Pass.

Fire restrictions are in place. There are no facilities other than three port-a-potty’s. Only 45 minutes from Mesa. We usually go to the salt river but I noticed that this area and water is much cleaner!

Fun and beautiful!

Great fishing and swimming!

Coon Bluff

No camping. This area appears to be day use only now. There are several posted signs that say no camping. Throughout Coon Bluff there are several picnic tables fire pits and grill areas. Fire restrictions are in place right now so there’s no fires or grilling which is typical for the summers.

This could be a fun spot to sit down and have lunch. I’ve gone out a couple times with our families and played in the water. Depending on the water flow, the water can be kind of dirty,not great for swimming.

Tonto passes are required for any parked vehicles. We use this spot as a finishing point for kayaking. There is plenty of wildlife in the area, and a lot of activities to do including mountain biking, hiking, fishing, kayaking, and swimming.

No Camping

No overnight here which is fairly recent, I remember tents here not too long ago. We like to take the kids here to play in the water. We also use it as a finishing point for Kayaking.

There are 7 picnic tables here with a few fire pits and raised grills. Currently a fire ban is in place including charcoal. That is typical for our summer.

There is some wildlife like squirrels, lizards and waterfowl, but if you want to see animals than you should spend some time on the water. We have seen bald eagles, mud swallows, bats, herons, cardinals. We do see a lot of people fishing here and there are some good shady spots for that. I would also be on the look out for rattlesnakes and scorpions.

Very nice

Stayed here April 2018. Staff on site are very polite and helpful. Lots of room for large campers with hookups. Would definitely stay again.

First to Review
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.

Bear Flat Day Use

Bear flat is situated right on Tonto Creek. First thing you should know, this is a day use only site. There is no overnight camping at bear flat Campground!

We intended on camping there with our pop up and luckily ran into a local at the top of FR Rd 405A on our way down. She told us that it was day use and that the road down is a one way, very steep and winding road, not trailer friendly. SO glad we talked to her first!

We ended up setting up camp at one of the many dispersed sites along FR Rd 405 which actually turned out to be great. There wasn’t a ton of traffic and there are so many pines that we had plenty of shade. Each dispersed site had a fire pit only.

The next morning we drove down to Bear Flat Campground. The drive is one lane and very steep. Watch for oncoming traffic and be ready to squeeze by another car. Once down, it is beautiful. The Tonto Creek literally runs right through the site. This was a great place for our family to play in the water.

There are a few cabins very near by and although I enjoyed this spot, I had that feeling like I was in someone’s backyard.

Overall. We had a great time getting out of the valley heat for a couple days but we were slightly disappointed that we couldn’t camp as close to the water as we planned.

Bearhide

Bearhide is a group site located on FS Rd 405A on the way to Bear Flat day use area. I found this on the way there and intend to go with a larger group. The site opens to a large area with 5-6 fire pits. There are plenty of pines throughout and lots of shade!

This site is about 2 miles up from bear flat trail head and Tonto creek. Dispersed camping, no reservations needed.

Dirt dirt and more dirt

Ok so we decided to stay here since we have young kids and thought having a pool and showers available would be great. Well the pool was great but the showers were lack luster at best. We stayed 3 nights and two of the 3 nights there were people so loud is ruined the experience. It seems the people who are in charge of enforcing quite time weren’t interested in it. We had one of the biggest sites there was, site 91, so that was a bonus but it was up a large hill and hard to get in and out of since the “driveway” was uneven with lots of dips that has loose dirt. Also i called ahead to see if our site could accommodate our large family tents. They said yes. Thankfully we opted to being one large and one small tent otherwise there would not have been room. There was barely enough flat ground for our two tents. Some of the sites were so small only a small tent would fit and nothing else. Also fire rings are not included which we knew ahead of time but is still annoying. Also if you want a specific site you have to pay extra when you reserve or they could move you to a smaller or less ideal location. Also you can hear the noise from the main road that runs right next to the campground. I had read reviews that said you couldn’t. Well we could…. all night long. We will not be returning to this campground.

Great if you’re on the water

There is some no overnight camping at coon bluff or Phon D Sutton, just day use. You need a tonto pass or national parks adventure pass. While you can buy them at some of the sites like this one, they are cheaper in town, I posted a picture with pricing. 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.

There are some good places for fishing and kids to play here. There are dumpsters and bathrooms but people still seem to leave garbage everywhere. Please clean up if you want these sites to stay open!

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.

Bare, but great for a crowd

We stayed here for a big church camp. The group site was basically a giant gravel parking lot, could have 40 to 50 cars with tents. There are bathrooms which are kept pretty well. There is a short walk to a muddy beach area. Good for launching kayaks or SUP. The kids had fun playing in the mud on the shore. It is a gradual incline so we didn’t have to worry about kids falling into deep water off the shore. Camp and beach are very exposed to the sun. This is definitely desert camping with just low brush. There is a large Ramada with tables and a few hose spigots. Look out for cactus and scorpions, again, desert camping. We had fun going up to the dam and bridge lookouts. We met a park ranger up there that pointed out a few cool things from the construction phases and historical things like a WW2 bunker on the hill. There is also a Native American cliff dwelling site with a visitor center just down the road. That’s worth seeing as well.