Beautiful swimming and hiking. Now permits are required but it is really a unique spot. They have been getting tighter on restrictions. If people keep leaving trash then I’m sure they’ll completely close it someday. Pack in/pack out. I lost all of the pictures from this trip but the water is comparable to Grand Canyon/Havasupai, just on a much smaller scale. The high mineral content “fossilizes” the sticks and leaves that sit in the water.
Big open spots with lots to do nearby. There are multiple places to pull of of this road and camp. This is a pack in/pack out site with trees and fresh air. It is part of Tonto National forest so fire restrictions and usually in place through the summer. Tall pines are everywhere with junipers here and there. You can get some amazing views of the Mogollon Rim depending where you stop.
Forest Lakes and the rim lakes are close by. They are great for kayaking, fishing and camping. The fish hatchery is a fun stop for kids but the hours are pretty specific.
Campground Review: This is dispersed camping in Coconino National Forest. There is camping throughout this area and it is all dispersed. Some spots are better than others but everything is pretty awesome. Tall pines all around, lots of exploring room for kids. The camping areas are all pretty open and there are plenty of spots to park a trailer or RV. This is just open forest so there is nothing for resources or amenities. There are spots higher on the ridge and also a few amazing places to camp right in pivot canyon. It has been an especially dry year but the canyon is shaded and was very green.
There is some great hiking especially through the canyon. If you follow the canyon about one mile from the road, then go down and right onto a cow trail, you can get to Pivot Rock Spring. We weren’t able to make it that far because we had so many little kids with us this time. This is also very close to Strawberry and Pine which have a perfect small town feel. You can stop at the lavender farm, buy local honey, and they have little festivals pretty often.
Something to note is that Tonto National Forest is usually fire restricted this time of year but Coconino is not. This site is barely into Coconino. It is still very dry so be careful with it!
Product Review: Grub Stick As a Dyrt Ranger I get to try out awesome new gear from outdoor companies. This trip we cooked with our new Grub Stick set. I love cooking over a campfire, and that is what Grub Stick is all about. The kids also had fun roasting. Definitely be aware that these are hot sharp pieces of metal so of course we had a close eye on them. Like any roasting get your fire going for a while until you have a nice bed of coals, that will cook better and cleaner than big flames and smoke. The handles are heavy duty and extendable and the different heads are easy to exchange, even when hot. Grub Stick really planned well on giving you what is needed in the moment. The hot pad, and grabber were very useful. We started out with grilled cheese sandwiches in the Grubcage and Burgcage. They worked great and you can see I was even about to prop a few up on the rocks whichever I got the next batch ready. For desert we did s’mores. Roasting the whole s’more got the chocolate all melted and toasted the crackers too. I was a little doubtful that the marshmallow would roast enough but it did well. If you’re into perfect browned marshmallows, I would roast them separately. Next we used the Grubpocket, which is the short metal cylinder. Now I was really excited for this one. My wife’s family has always made “woofems” which are made from wrapping crescent roll dough around a dowel on metal rod. You roast it and then fill it with pudding, berries and whipped cream. So with the Grubpocket, they cook much faster and the best part is that the interior cooks too. We’ve always had the problem of a doughy middle. I filled mine with chocolate pudding and bananas. It was amazing. I did butter the stick first and I would suggest that or else the dough can get stuck. There were a few other tools that we are looking forward to using next time including the bacon clip and the Grub Tube. I love the simplicity of the product. It makes campfire cooking easier and pretty fast. I saw the recipes on the site and some of them seem a little over the top. I like that the tools simplify the process for me. I also love the durable carrying case that easily fits everything.
Small sites, some are better than others. I took pictures of each type. Beach is very rocky, not much of a family beach but good for surfing. No hookups, there is a septic dump. Fire pits and tables at each site. Very close to the highway but there is a hill in between some of the camp. Also close to the nuclear plant, I don’t know much about that.
Expensive, but I don’t think you’ll have a campground around here with this much space and camping feel. If you want multiple nights you’ll need to reserve up to 3-6 months in advance. Fire pit and table at every site, trees between sites. In the heart of Camp Pendleton so you’ll hear distant range sounds, never anything that woke us up. Definitely a lot of families here. Your reservation will also get you free parking on any beach. Water and power hook up spots were 65 a night.
This is such an awesome set up for military families. We stayed here in March, and there was almost nobody else there. We had one beach house and you are allowed one tent per house. We were in the tent. Technically I think the rule is a 9x9 tent max. I would check. The beach house has a back porch and then the sand starts. There is probably about 200 yards of sand until the water at least. Right outside our tent was a playground for the kids. There is a fire pit at every house. About 100 yards out there are wooden beach chairs and umbrellas. The sand is kept very clean. The beach at he water is a very gentle slope down, waves are small and good for kids playing and wading.
I see rumors that “No Camping” signs are going up, as of early July we did not see anything. We had a ton of family at the big Ramada which had 4 tables and a fire pit. There is a dirt volleyball court. There is a pit toilet that is a 4 minute walk away. There is a small dock for canoes, kayaks and small boats. The water was perfect, muddy but no bad smell. Lots of bugs in the evening. There are a few other sites around the lake but it is definitely limited.
We just spent a day out here but there were plenty of campers near the reservoir and I figured it was worth people knowing about. Water was overflowing because of a wet year. Perfect for kayaking and swimming, not too cold. Multiple sites around the waters edge, most campers seemed to be on the South and East sides.
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.
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
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!
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.
We loved the trails through the woods. We saw the iconic banana slugs and all went into the hollowed out trees. Definitely worth spending a few hours just exploring. Great for kids and adults.
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.
We stayed off of the campground and hiked into the woods pretty far, I can’t speak for the campground specifically but the area is amazing. Haigler Creek is beautiful and there is so much wildlife down there. Look out for poison ivy, it is definitely around, especially close to the water. Cold nights and warm days during the summer. Fair amount of bugs around the water but not too much.
Spent a few nights up here dry camping. Sort of a rough road going out. Lots of people but we got a spot on the edge of the camp. Bathrooms are as basic as they get. Windy in the morning but settled as the day went on each day. The lake is about a mile away. There is a short but very steep hike, don’t plan on carrying too much stuff. Nowhere to launch kayaks from the campground side but we could see a boat launch on the far side of the lake. Lots of people fishing, sort of hard to find a spot on the shore with space between anyone else. The water was pretty clean and ok for swimming. The camp and lake had a decent amount of broken glass which is a bummer. Pine trees are tall but area has been pretty cleared out so campsites are a little bit exposed. We had shade as long as we moved around through the day.