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State of Arizona Parks

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USA Parks
North Central Region
Tonto National Forest
Campsite Availability
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Tonto National Forest Crooks Trail Overlook © George Bowers
This photo was taken at one of the numerous turnouts along the General Crook Trail also designated as SFR 300.
Tonto National Forest © Brenda Curin
Tonto National Forest Scenic View © Christopher Guildig
Tonto National Forest Mogollon Rim © Christopher Guildig
Tonto National Forest route 260 © Christopher Guildig
Tonto National Forest © Brenda Curin
Tonto National Forest © Brenda Curin
Tonto National Forest © Brenda Curin
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2324 East McDowell Road
Phoenix, Arizona   85006

Phone: 602-225-5200
Email: park email button icon
Snuggled along the crest of the Mogollon Rim and stretching 90 miles south, the Tonto National Forest spreads over a spectacular 2.9 million acres of pine and cactus country just northwest of Phoenix, Arizona. To the north along the Rim country, cool, pine-covered slopes and clear trout-stocked streams attract thousands from the cities when summer temperatures soar. Just over the top of the Rim wooded lakes on the Coconino and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests beckon hundreds more on weekends. When sun and sizzling urban asphalt push thermometers past the 100 degree mark, only the early birds find vacant Forest Service developed campgrounds.

Featured Areas within the Park
 Hiking Trailyes
1. Apache Lake Marina and Resort: This campsite offers both tent camping sites as well as RV hookups, with amenities including restrooms, showers, a restaurant/bar and boat rentals.

2. Burnt Corral Campground: Located on the shores of Apache Lake in Tonto National Forest, this campground provides access to boating/fishing opportunities along with picnic tables & grills at each site.

3. Christopher Creek Campground: Nestled among Ponderosa pines along spring-fed creek offering 43 campsites for tents or small trailers; vault toilets are available but no water is provided so bring your own supply.

4. Coconino Rim Tent Sites: These primitive backcountry campsites offer solitude within ponderosa pine forest near Grand Canyon's edge; there're no services except pit toilet nearby trailhead parking area.

5. Haigler Creek: Offers dispersed camping options where you can set up anywhere that isn't specifically marked off limits by signs or natural barriers like rivers/streams etc., great option if looking for more remote experience without any facilities whatsoever (pack out all trash).

6. Picnic Table Flat Dispersed Camping Area: A free-of-cost place which allows visitors to stay upto14 days per month.

7. Roosevelt lakeview park: It has beautiful views over Roosevelt lake , it also features fishing spots.

8. Windy Hill campground: They have large number of individual sites suitable for both tenting and Rv-ing.

9. Cholla Bay Group Site: Suitable spot when travelling in groups , they provide fire pits too.

10. Globe / Miami Chamber Of Commerce Community Park And Pavilion: Provides basic amenities such as electricity hookup points , drinking water taps etc.

Tonto National Forest offers a variety of swimming options for visitors. The forest is home to several lakes including Roosevelt Lake, Apache Lake, Canyon Lake and Saguaro lake where one can enjoy recreational activities like boating and fishing along with swimming.

The Lower Salt River flowing through the Tonto National Forest also provides opportunities for river-based water sports such as tubing or rafting which includes areas suitable for casual swims.

Water Wheel Falls located near Payson within this national forest has natural pools that are perfect spots to take a dip during hot summer days while enjoying scenic waterfall views.

However, it's important to note that not all bodies of water in Tonto National Forest may be safe or permitted for public swim due to potential hazards like flash floods or wildlife presence so always check local regulations before planning your swim trip.

Relief from desert heat inspires a great many people to travel to the cool waters of one of the six reservoirs on the Tonto National Forest. There is considerable variation in the scenery, size, and type of opportunities found on these reservoirs.

Some people choose the larger lakes for water-skiing and power boating. Others opt for the quiet seclusion of a narrow lake arm extending between two near-vertical canyon walls. The Tonto National Forest has much to offer for boating enthusiasts. Enjoy your boating experience--but play it safe.

Boating on the Tonto National Forest is possible during all four seasons during good weather. Related recreational opportunities available at the reservoirs include: camping, picnicking, fishing, water-play, hiking, wildlife viewing, personal watercraft use, and interpretive programs.

Caution: Lake levels vary daily and are controlled by Salt River Project (SRP). For current information, phone the SRP at (602) 236-5929. These fluctuations result in rocks and other obstacles near the water surface. Be aware that this involves a degree of risk and the boat operator assumes all such responsibilities.


The Cave Creek Complex burned over 248,310 acres and is the largest fire recorded in the Sonoran Desert . Due to the fire's large size, multiple watersheds were affected by ash flows once the monsoons arrived. Tonto Forest fishery personnel Todd Willard, Bob Calamusso and Carol Engle in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Arizona Game and Fish Department conducted fish salvage operations at Lime Creek, Silver Creek, and Camp Creek. Salvages were conducted in order to preserve rare southwestern fishes which exhibit unique genetic variability. Endangered Gila topminnow occupied Lime Creek for over 20 years, and are one of the thirteen populations on the Tonto. Gila chub, a species that has been petitioned for listing by US Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered species act, were successfully salvaged from Silver Creek. Both species are being held at the Bubbling Ponds State Fish Hatchery. Additionally, Forest Service sensitive speckled dace that inhabited Camp Creek were captured and transported to the Phoenix Zoo. This race of speckled dace found in Camp Creek, are particularly unique due to their large size as compared to other stocks on the Tonto Forest . All three species will be held in captivity until stream conditions improve. All agencies involved are commended on the proactive approach to saving unique species before they are removed by ash flows.

Tonto National Forest is located near Fountain Hills, Payson and Scottsdale

Tonto National Forest in Arizona offers a variety of picnicking options for visitors. There are numerous picnic areas scattered throughout the forest, many with tables and grills available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Some sites also offer amenities like restrooms and drinking water facilities. The locations vary from lakeside spots to shaded groves among towering trees or near streams, providing stunning views of the diverse landscapes including mountains, deserts and forests that Tonto has to offer. Visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking trails nearby most picnic spots before settling down for their meal.

The Tonto National Forest has a collection of nearly 900 miles of National Forest System Trails. Their primary purpose is to provide a variety of opportunities for hikers, bikers and equestrians to enjoy the beauty and challenge of nature.

The trail conditions range from good to very poor; most are not suitable for motor vehicles of any type. A trailing experience can include anything from the fulfilling opposition of steep grades and heavy brush, to the exciting discovery of spectacular scenic views and memorable and peaceful seclusion from the pressures and congestion of society.

Exploring a trail in the forest can be both relaxing and exhilarating, and sometimes even dangerous. With summer temperatures averaging in the mid 90s throughout most of the forest, no trail adventures should be made without the appropriate precautionary measures. Make sure that you have an adequate supply of drinking water, as well as a general idea of the time needed to complete the trip. It's also a good idea to take someone with you. You can run into trouble on any adventure, and sometimes the best defense is a partner or group. Remember to be safe when trailing, and avoid unnecessary danger in all forms.

For more information on a particular trail contact the managing RANGER STATION.

Birding enthusiasts have a variety of options in this Arizona location. The forest offers diverse habitats, including desert scrub, chaparral, and pine forests that attract different bird species throughout the year. Popular spots include Roosevelt Lake for waterfowl sightings or Pinal Mountains for higher elevation birds like warblers and hummingbirds.

Several trails are also available to explore such as Horton Creek Trail where you can spot wild turkeys or Four Peaks Wilderness Area which is home to raptors among other species. Birders may even catch sight of rare breeds depending on migration seasons; these could range from bald eagles during winter months to summer visitors like vermilion flycatchers.

In addition, there are guided tours provided by local organizations offering expert knowledge about native avian wildlife while exploring various parts of the park's vast terrain.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
February 26 Canyon Lake Campground by Black Tie Shower User
park review stars; one to five While Canyon Lake is MAGICAL, the campground, managed by Westrec marine is in awful condition. Do NOT tent camp at this lake!!!!
May 23 Ohio Native by LSD
park review stars; one to five Cayon lake was peaceful, Beautiful views, and was less littered than many others.
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From Phoenix, State highway 87 north bisects the heart of the forest.

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