Find Sites

Find your spot

Find other facilities on map

For more information on Forest
Safety click here



part ofTonto National Forest, US Forest Service
Status: Open through Tue Dec 01 2015   Season Dates


Houston Mesa Campground is located in the forested northern section of Tonto National Forest, just one mile north of Payson, Arizona and less than two hours from Phoenix.

With family, equestrian and tent-only campsites, this campground can accommodate a range of visitors and offers plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors, including several miles of hiking and horseback riding trails nearby.

As the fifth largest forest in the United States, the Tonto National Forest is one of the most-visited "urban" forests in the United States (approximately 5.8 million visitors annually). Its boundaries are Phoenix to the south, the Mogollon Rim to the north and the San Carlos and Fort Apache Indian reservations to the east.

Natural Features:

The campground is located at an elevation of 5,200 ft. in a mixed forest and shrub area, with spacious campsites offering both sun and shade. Winters are pleasant and cool with cold nighttime temperatures, while summers are warm and sunny, providing a nice getaway from the hotter deserts around Phoenix. Hawks, eagles, javelina, deer, fox, skunk and coyote live in the area.


Many visitors come to Houston Mesa to horseback ride, hike, camp and picnic. Houston Mesa Loop Trail is a 9-mile round trip through a pinyon and juniper woodland and can be accessed from the horse camping area. The Houston Mesa Interpretive Trail is a 0.5-mile self-guided trail.


Houston Mesa has 74 campsites, including 29 equestrian sites for campers with horses or mules, and 17 tent-only sites for those who want a quieter experience. There are several amenities to make campers feel at home, including showers (coin-operated) and flush toilets. All of the sites are accessible.

The horse camping section (Mule Deer Loop) is across the street from the main campground and features 29 individual sites with tables and grills. Corrals are also available. Campers who reserve these sites must have horses or mules. There are two group sites that can host up to 65 people and can be reserved by calling the campground.

Nearby Attractions:

Campers who make the quick trip to the town of Payson, one mile south, will find restaurants, shopping and other conveniences.

Scenic driving and outdoor recreation abound in the surrounding Tonto National Forest, which embraces almost 3 million acres of rugged and spectacularly beautiful country, ranging from saguaro cactus-studded desert to pine-forested mountains beneath the Mogollon Rim.

Activities and Amenities

Within Facility
  • Accessible Sites
  • Campfire Rings
  • Drinking Water
  • Dump Station
  • Firewood
  • Flush Toilets
  • Grills
  • Hiking
  • Pets Allowed
  • Picnic Tables
  • Showers
Know Before You Go
  • There is a 2 tent maximum for this campground.
  • No hookups.
  • Second vehicle charge of $7 per night will be collected on-site.
  • Dogs are allowed and must be kept on a 6 foot leash.
  • Firewood can be purchases on-site for $6.
  • Group units in the horse camp area can be reserved by calling 928-468-7135.
  • Please be advised bear activity has increased due to drought conditions. All campers need to practice the following measures to prevent problems in bear country: 1) Always store your food securely. Use an airtight bear-proof container. Backpacks and coolers are not adequate; 2)Put all food away whenever you leave your campsite and at night. If bear-proof food storage boxes are not available, lock it out of sight in your trunk or hang it from a tree. 3) Store anything that has an 'attractive' odor good or bad - in the same way. Lotions, soap, toothpaste, bug spray, etc., may attract a curious bear. 4) Be extremely aware of your garbage. Deposit it in bear-proof refuse container. Burn what can be burned and pack out the rest. Do not bury it - you can't hide it from a bear's nose!

    Always respect wild animals, especially bears. Never attempt to feed or pet a bear. Avoid surprising, aggravating or harassing bears. Avoid what might be misconstrued as aggressive behavior.

    For more information please visit: BeBearAware.org
  • Click here for more information on Tonto National Forest
  • Don't Move Firewood: Prevent the spread of tree-killing pests by obtaining firewood near your destination and burning it on-site. For more information visit dontmovefirewood.org.

Getting There:

GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
34.27, -111.31417
34°16'12"N, 111°18'51"W

From Payson, Arizona, go north for 1 mile to the junction of Highway 87 (Beeline Highway) and Forest Road 199 (Houston Mesa Road). Turn right (east) onto Forest Road 199 for .10 miles. The campground is on the north side of Houston Mesa Road.

Contact Information:

Mailing Address:

PAYSON  AZ  85541

Phone Number:

Information:  (928)468-7135
Discover and reserve camping, lodging, permits, tours and more at America's parks, forests, monuments and other public lands with Recreation.gov. Learn more about us, or about any of our agency partners below:
Bureau of Land Management Federal Highway Administration National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration Smithsonian Institution USDA Forest Service US Army Corps of Engineers US Fish and Wildlife Service National Park Service Bureau of Engraving and Printing Tennessee Valley Authority Bureau of Reclamation National Archives Records Administration