Tonto National Forest Off-Highway Vehicle Permit
Tonto National Forest
The Tonto National Forest (TNF) offers a wide variety of riding opportunities for Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) enthusiasts. Whether you ride motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs/Side-by-Sides (SxS), or full-size four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles, the TNF provides a diverse scenery ranging from the Saguaro cactus-studded Sonoran Desert to pine-forested mountains beneath the Mogollon Rim.
As a part of the Tonto National Forest Travel Management plan, the Forest has OHV areas and permit zones designated primarily for OHV use (https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/tonto/recreation/ohv). Access to these special use areas requires a Tonto National Forest OHV Permit. A single permit provides access to all of the OHV areas and permit zones across the Forest subject to any Forest Special Closure Notices that are in effect.
- The Bulldog Canyon Permit Zone: Located in the Mesa Ranger District about one hour from Phoenix, Bulldog Canyon is 34,000 acres in size and provides approximately 20 miles of open trail (https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5352589.pdf). Bulldog Canyon trails are all full size vehicle width and provide access to the beautiful Sonoran desert and Goldfield Mountains. There are five access points: Blue Point, Usery, Wolverine, Hackamore, Dutchman and Willow. A Tonto National Forest OHV Permit is currently required for this area.
Permit & Season Information
Each Tonto National Forest OHV Permit is issued to a single person and covers use in all OHV areas and permit zones on the TNF. Any vehicle operator 16 and over must have a permit. Passengers do not need a permit. Permits are good for a period of 6 month from date of purchase and can be renewed as long as the permit holder has not received any citations for violation of the area/zone and permit rules.
Permits must be in your possession at all times while in an OHV area or permit zone.
Permit Zones require an access code to open the locked gate. This code will be provided to you when you receive your permit. All gates are to remain closed at all times except when you are passing through them. It is your responsibility to relock entrance gates after using them. Do not allow other individuals or groups to pass through the gates. Sharing combinations or access codes with non-permitted individuals is a violation of your permit and you could lose future access!
Need to Know
Every person operating a vehicle in an OHV permit zone must have:
- A valid Tonto National Forest OHV Permit issued in their name
- A valid driver’s license or alternate identification (except those under 16 years of age)
- An Arizona State OHV Decal (resident or non-resident) attached to the license plate on their vehicle (this does not need to be a street legal plate- a registration "RV" plate works). For more information, visit https://www.azgfd.com/OHV/
These trails are open year-round subject to severe weather and other forest conditions or special closures. Please check the TNF Forest Service website for any closure notices
After purchasing the permit, in the "View My Reservations" link or the "Reservations, Upcoming" section of your Recreation.gov account, you'll see the option to PRINT PERMIT. Click Print Permit to print and see gate codes. If your permit is not in your possession when in the permit zone, your permit will be revoked for a full year and you may be cited for failure to have a permit for access.
- Vehicles must stay on designated trails and roads. All cross-country travel by a vehicle, including OHVs, is prohibited.
- Travel by vehicles which causes damage to native plants, wildlife habitat, riparian areas, cultural or natural resources or property or improvements is prohibited.
- Don’t drink and drive! It is unlawful to operate an OHV under the influence of drugs or alcohol or in such a manner that endangers the safety of others.
- All OHVs and riders must meet Arizona State Requirements including:
- Helmet: A properly fitted and fastened DOT approved helmet is required for those under 18 who operate or ride an OHV. Helmets are strongly recommended for all OHV operators and riders over 18.
- Eye protection for the driver or a windshield
- A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved spark arrestor
- A muffler which prevents sound above 96 decibels
- Brakes adequate to stop the vehicle
- Lighted headlights and taillights, if the OHV is operated between 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise
- License plate securely fastened and clearly visible
- Seat and footrests for the operator and each passenger
- Rearview mirror
Camping and Other Non-Motorized Activities within OHV Areas and Permit Zones
- As with all Federal lands, fireworks are not allowed anywhere in the OHV areas and permit zones.
- Hunting during regular hunting seasons with a valid hunting license is allowed in all OHV areas and permit zones subject to Arizona State Game and Fish hunting regulations. A valid Tonto National Forest OHV Permit is required to access the area with a vehicle.
- Each OHV area and permit zone may have different restrictions on camping, so be sure to check with your local District Office before you go. Generally, camping is prohibited at all staging areas and access points to allow for day-use parking and trailer staging.
- In Bulldog Canyon Permit Zone, camping is prohibited for the first mile from each access gate, with the exception of Blue Point access gate; camping is prohibited for the first two miles from this gate. This restriction includes a distance of 300 feet on either side of the road/trail.
- Facilities- there are currently no developed campgrounds or restrooms at the Bulldog Canyon staging areas, access points, and throughout the permit zone. So bring everything you need with you because there won’t be any water, electricity, or restroom facilities! Just the beautiful Forest and its amazing opportunities!
The $6.00 reservation fee is non-refundable.
The Tonto National Forest OHV Permit is free.
Permits are non-refundable and non-transferable with a term of 6 months from the date of purchase. At this time changes are not allowed after purchase; if you have a new address or family members change, you will need to obtain a new permit. Please cancel your permit if you are unable to use it.