Beth G.
Tucson, AZ
Joined February 2020
A woman + a man + a yorkie + a doxie on an adventure
Isolated with lots of old oak trees

We were not impressed with this USDA Forest Service operated campground. There are better places to stay in the Tonto National Forest area. I’d only stay here again if everything else was full.

It was toilets. That was about it. No cell service either (T-Mobile). No water or trash. Pack it in, pack it out. There are also some protests going on in the area right now. The land is sacred to Western Apache tribes and it might be opened up to copper mining.

The picnic tables and fire pits are nice. I highly recommend driving along the Gila-Pinal Scenic Route. Breath taking vistas.

It’s free!

For a free site, this place is amazing. We stumbled across this city run campsite after a trip to the Tonto National Forest. I almost didn’t post a review because I wanted to keep this place a secret.

This small campground has a dozen sites that are completely free. Site 2 even has electric hookups and sewage drainage. The other sites are non-electric. Each site had a fire pit and picnic table. It has flush toilets with a sink! There are also fish cleaning areas.

The sites don’t have a water view, but there are day use areas around the lake. Additional flush toilets in the day use area as well. Calling this a lake is also a stretch, it more of a pond. We didn’t have fishing gear with us, but based off some internet research, I don’t think there are any fish in the pond.

This would be a great place to stop for a night, but not stay for an extended period of time. There isn’t much to do in the area besides the pond and a Dollar General. However, free is free and that means something on an extended road trip. Expect 10% gradients along AZ Hwy 177. Excellent cell service (T-Mobile).

Less busy then Patagonia Lake

We had a great time here over the weekend. The sites are large and spaced out. Each space has a fire pit and picnic table. There is water available but it’s located next to the pit toilets, not at the individual sites.

You can see the lake from the sites, but we had to walk about 1/2 mile to get to the water. We did catch 3 trouts, so it was worth it.

Over half of the spaces were occupied on a Saturday in February. Several large and loud groups as well.

Fun place for ATV/Dirtbikes

Several miles of dispersed campsites along a gas line road south of the Superstition Mountains. Lots of folks out there on a weekend after a few good rain storms. Great place to ride your ATVs in the mud.

You definitely are going to want to navigate the roads slowly if you go far back. The roads are uneven and washed out in some spots.

We even had some cell service (T Mobile)

Perfect for ATV/dirt bikes

No amenities but perfect place to base out of for off-roading adventures. This place is really popular, so it’s a cool place to ride with other people and check out their rigs.

Make sure you pay for your Arizona State Trust pass before you get there.

Trailers/RVs are fine. It’s mostly just dirt, so I wouldn’t recommend tents if it’s been raining. There is also a great restaurant/bar down the road (the River Bottom Grill) that has live music on the weekends.

Feels secluded, but close to I-10 and Tucson

We were surprised on the number of people who ventured out to this BLM spot off Park Link Road in the Cactus Forest over a rainy weekend in Tucson.

The first dozen dispersed spots were full with camper vans, small trailers and trucks. We continued to drive down the gravel dirt road to a more secluded spot. We didn’t see anyone in our one-night stay beside a mountain biker in the morning.

Even though It was raining in the area for about 24 hours before we travelled to the campsite, we didn’t have any issues navigating the 1.5 miles down to the site we chose. The truck has some mud in it and the 4x4 wasn’t needed (but made it easier). I would recommend a high clearance vehicle to reach the further back spots. Also, the road was narrow, our F250 brushed a few bushes on the way.

Most dispersed sites had a fire ring (check locally fire conditions first). I’d suggest bringing in fire wood unless you just want to burn the few fallen twig and limbs. It’s a cactus forest- so the terrain is mostly saguaros, chollas, Palo verde trees and shrubs.

Our site had a beautiful view of the sunset and a view of Picacho Peak in the distance. We visited in February and the weather was nice (on the chilly side) for our roof top tent. I wouldn’t come here in the summer unless we had a rig with air conditioning. Impressive view of the stars at night. Some traffic noise from I-10.

No water, toilets, or trash. So be prepared to take out what you bring in. We had 2 bars of LTE slcell service with T-Mobile.

It’s BLM land close to Tucson, so locals use the area for gun target practice. We heard gun shots until the sunset and starting again the morning. It was basically non-stop. If you want a place to shoot, this would be a good spot to camp.

🌵 Saguaro Facts: Saguaros can live to be 150-200 years old and grow as tall at 40 feet. A 10 year old saguaro Is about 1.5 inches tall (please watch where you drive, park and step). At 80 years old, it’s around 6 feet tall and starts to bloom. The best time to see saguaro blooms is mid-May through mid-June. At age 95-100, it’s around 15 feet tall and starts to grow it’s first arm. 🌵

Fun day trip or for dispersed camping

Millions of years ago, volcanic activity in the Southwest create lava rocks and fire agate. Inside the Rockhound area you can walk and collect fire agates right off the surface of the ground. It is the desert equivalent of searching for sea shells at the beach. It makes a fun day trip for families and rock enthusiasts. If rocks aren’t your thing, bring an ATV, 4x4, or dirt bike and enjoy miles of trails and dirt roads.

The Rockhound area can be accessed from the Black Hills Scenic Byway or the main access road. We had no issues finding it using Google Maps. We did take a 4x4 on this trip, but it isn’t necessary. Any vehicle that can handle a few miles of primitive/gravel road should be fine.

If you’re adventurous enough, spend the night in one of the dispersed camping sites. Just be prepared. There are no facilities or water available. The site only has a sign, a log book and a small trash can. The area is very rocky and I don’t recommend tent camping, but it would be feasible with some raking. There were 3 other groups camping while we were there and they were all sleeping in some type of camping vehicle. There aren’t any trees, so we experienced lots of high wind gusts. As a precaution, We took our awning down in the middle of the night, but our roof top tent was fine. Although this area is remote, you can see the lights from Safford,AZ at night. We didn’t have a fire, but they are permitted (as long as there isn’t a fire ban in effect). Some of the sites had camper-made fire rings/pits dug into the ground and surrounded by rocks.

In one word: Meh.

There is nothing impressive about this campground. If you have an RV/trailer and it’s all that is available, it will do. If you are tent camping- find somewhere else. I have no intention of ever going back or revisiting this place. The staff wasn’t very friendly and the sites were just dusty/dirt. This is my least favorite campground- ever.

Pros: location, location, location. Close to the south entrance of Zion National Park. I think you can even float the Virgin River from the campground (we went in the fall and it was too cold for us). Facilities were clean. Close to shops/restaurants. Cell phone service (T Mobile).

Cons: Busy and commercialized. Since it’s behind a hotel, don’t expect to be camping “in nature”. We should have just stayed in the hotel. Staff was acceptable, but not overly friendly.

Clean, established RV park

We rented a pull behind trailer to tow behind our LR4. We were looking for a clean, established campground with full hook ups, as close to Bryce Canyon NP as a possible. Ruby’s Inn was perfect for that. The spots were nice and level. The showers and toilets were clean. The store had plenty of necessities and the staff was friendly. Lots of restaurants near by and the Bryce Canyon buses stop at the entrance of the campground.

If you are looking for a remote campsite, or at least the illusion of it, this is not the site for you. The sites were easy to get in and out of and there was enough space for 2 vehicles.

Plan B

We waited too long to plan our Grand Canyon North Rim trip so this place was the only option for full hooks up on the North Rim. It’s a good back up option If the National Park sites are all booked. The North Rim only receives about 10% of the overall visitors to the GCNP, so its way less crowded and worth the trip. If you’re looking to ride your dirt bike/ATV, this might be the perfect site. We didn’t bring ours, but we wished he had since there are trails near by the site.

On the drive into the park you can see deer (lots at twilight) and bison.

Pros: lots of trees, toilets, sinks and fire pits. Market onsite with essentials. Access to off road trails for ATVs/dirt bikes.

Cons: The sites are very small and cramped. 45 minute drive to the rim. “Jacob Lake” is a pond- set your expectations accordingly. You have to pay for showers.

Excellent weekend trip

The sites are first come, first served but we didn’t have any issues finding a spot during the winter. Our site had plenty of space for 2 vehicles, 1x 3-person tent and 3x 1-person tents. The sites are well shaded with trees and each site has a fire pit and bear box.

Lots of hiking trails available. Since it’s a wilderness area, they are all pet friendly. It is the perfect getaway from Tucson.

The Ranger and camp host we meet were super friendly!

One of our favorites

My husband, myself and our 2 small dogs live in Tucson, AZ. We recently acquired a roof top tent and we’ve been trying out various campgrounds across the Southwest.

This is still one of our favorite National Parks to stay at. The sites were “pull though” so it’s perfect for our Roof Top Tent set up. Plenty of trees and hiking opportunities. Honestly, it’s worth the trip just to see the coatimundis. They are ADORABLE!

Pros: Coatis! Scenery. Easy to access. Water. Bear boxes.

Cons: As typical in National Parks, the majority of hiking trails are not dog friendly. No showers. no fire pits, just BBQ that can be used for cooking with fire.

Nice area- if you get the right spot

My husband, myself and our 2 small dogs live in Tucson, AZ. We recently acquired a roof top tent and we’ve been trying out various campgrounds across the Southwest.

Water recreation areas in AZ are sparse, so this place holds a certain appeal. The facilities are nice and clean but if you’re not careful you could end up with only a view of your neighbors. We didn’t stay at the tent cabins, but they also looked nice. I’d come back to stay in the cabins with a group of friends or as a one night stop on the way somewhere else. It’s a great place to stop, swim, shower and hit the road for another adventure. When you haven’t seen a shower in days, they are so beckoning.

Pros: larger sites and further spaced out then your typical RV park. Several sites include a covered picnic table(most in the Gila Loop do not). All sites have water, a fire pit and a table. Also- fishing! $20 a night for non-electric site is a good price since you can take free hot showers in the park. Cell phone service (T-Mobile) and WiFi).

Cons: Most sites don’t have much of a view. Very few trees. Only a few sites are suited for tent camping. Busy park, expect to see a lot of other campers. Hot tub is permanently closed.

Small campground but worth a visit

My husband, myself and our 2 small dogs live in Tucson, AZ. We recently acquired a roof top tent and we’ve been trying out various campgrounds across the Southwest.

Dog friendly hiking opportunities from this campground on the Cochise Trail. I recommend arriving during daylight hours. We left after work, and it was harder to navigate the primitive roads back to the campground in the dark. You do have to cross the stream several times to get the the site. When we crossed the water was 3-6” deep and a few crossing are over rocks (not pavement). We had no issues in our F250, but any vehicle with a normal amount of clearance should be fine. We saw several small SUVs/crossovers, small trailers, a dirt bike and a Prius.

It’s a popular place and we were lucky to get the last site available that night. There are also dispersed camp sites (also popular) along the W Hunt Rd loop.

The campground has pit toilets (with 2 stalls each). Each site has a picnic table, a nice fire ring and a tall BBQ grill. The sites are close together. No water, so bring your own.

We will definitely return to the Cochise Stronghold area.

Nice break from the desert heat but overpriced

My husband, myself and our 2 small dogs live in Tucson, AZ. We recently acquired a roof top tent and we’ve been trying out various campgrounds across the Southwest.

The drive up scenic highway 366 is worth a trip regardless. There are some amazing views of the Pinaleños. Since it’s still February, the road to the top of the mountain was closed to us so we decided to stay at Arcadia since it’s open year round.

We were the only people staying overnight, which surprised us since it was a holiday weekend. We did see a group picnicking when we first arrived though. Also, we could hear sports cars on the highway at night. Probably racing down the tight switchbacks.

No water, so make sure to bring your own. Toilets were clean, pit toilets and there were 2 sets. Campsites are pretty spread out. Some were 30-50 feet from the main road and wouldn’t really suit our needs as RTT campers. Lots of trash cans and a few bear boxes. Each site has a fire pit with a cooking grate and a cement picnic table. For camping in AZ, it is well suited for tent camping. We stayed in site 12. Most other sites wouldn’t not be ideal for RTTs.

I would definitely return to the Pineleños, but I’m going to wait until April, when we can access the sites at the top of the mountains.

Overall, it’s a nice wooded area, but with only 1 hiking trail (to Shannon Campground, 10mi r/t) and no vista views from the site, I don’t think it’s worth $20 a night. We decided to only spend 1 night here.