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part ofTonto National Forest, US Forest Service
Status: Open through Sat Oct 31 2015   Season Dates


Named for the towering pines under which it sits, Ponderosa Campground is tucked in the rolling forests of northern Arizona.

As the fifth-largest forest in the country, the Tonto National Forest is one of the most-visited urban forests in the United States, boasting about 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 ponderosa pine trees make this a memorable campground. Larger ponderosas release a vanilla scent into the air and have a relatively open understory, making the area perfect for camping. Mixed into the understory are junipers, oaks and manzanita shrubs.

The campground sits on the border of the Mogollon Rim, pronounced by locals as "muggy-own," a 200-mile-long cliff in northern Arizona that ranges between 5,000 and 7,000 feet in elevation. The unique landscape was created by extreme erosion and faulting that has sculpted spectacular canyons and buttes. The rim serves as the geographical dividing line between the cool high country above and the hot, dry desert below.


Most visitors enjoy walking along the campground's nature trail, traveling into the town of Payson, taking advantage of the area's hiking trails and lakes or simply relaxing at the campsite.

Scenic driving and outdoor recreation abound in the surrounding Tonto National Forest. A series of lakes called the Rim Country Lakes are about a 15 minute drive east. Woods Canyon Lake is one of the most popular recreational lakes in the state and offers options for boating.


The facility provides 48 single campsites and two group sites that can accommodate up to 50 people guests each. The campsites are clean, flat and spacious with a good amount of shade from pine trees.

Nearby Attractions:

The nearby town of Payson, Arizona, offers restaurants, shopping and other conveniences.

Activities and Amenities

Within Facility
  • Accessible Pit Toilets
  • Campfire Circles
  • Drinking Water
  • Firewood
  • Grills
  • Group Camping
  • Group Cooking Facilities
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Host
  • Paved Parking Spurs
  • Paved Roads
  • Pets Allowed
  • Picnic Area
  • Self Pay Station
  • Trails
  • Trash Collection
Within 10 Miles
  • Fish Hatchery
  • Fishing
Greater Than 10 Miles
  • Hospital
Know Before You Go
  • There is a second vehicle charge of $7 per night.
  • There are no electricity, water or sewer site hookups.
  • First-come, first-served sites are available.
  • 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
  • No horseback riding.
  • Two tents per campsite.
  • Second vehicle charge will be collected at time of check-in.
  • 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):
34.29889, -111.11417
34°17'56"N, 111°6'51"W

From Payson, Arizona, go east on State Route 260. The campground is located on the south side of 260. A campground sign is visible before the campground entrance.

Contact Information:

Mailing Address:

2100 N. Houston Mesa Rd.
PAYSON  AZ  85541

Phone Number:

Project Office: (928)468-7135
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