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Ponderosa Campground -- Payson, Arizona
Enjoy the tall pines and scented air of this Tonto National Forest gem!
If you love tall & lovely pine trees, freshly-scented air, and camping spaces where there's plenty of room between you and your nearest neighbor, then you'll enjoy the Tonto National Forest's Ponderosa Campground. Located not far from Payson, AZ, you'll be close enough to town to explore this lovely northeastern Arizona town while still enjoying the back-to-nature feel of a camping experience.
On this page, you can view photos of the National Forest's Ponderosa Campground and learn the details you need to plan your camping trip to this area of Arizona's high country, popular as a retreat from the Southern Arizona's extreme summertime heat.
Note: Before leaving on a camping trip to the Arizona national forests, always do a "status check" of the area to check on its current conditions. Springtime weather conditions can be variable, and in the summertime, wildfires are a problem in the backcountry.
Ponderosa Campground -- Campsites
Camping under a canopy of thick pines is the major attraction at the Tonto National Forest's Ponderosa Campground. The forest area in and around the Ponderosa camp is particularly beautiful. The trees are thick, and there's minimum of ugly underbrush and gaps between the trees. If a campground could get a report card, then the Ponderosa camping ground would certainly merit an "A" for beauty!
Spaciousness is another attribute of this NF camping area. Each camping site is situated far enough apart from the next that a feeling of uncrowdedness remains even when the campground has plenty of visitors. (And, if you head to the Ponderosa campground before or after the summertime visitors arrive, you may well feel---and actually BE---quite isolated here.)
In addition to the campsites being spaced well away from neighbors, you'll also find that each camping spot itself is relatively large at Ponderosa. As you can see from these photos, you'll have a large area for setting up your tent and/or enjoying activities within your campsite. The tent pads are flat, making tent set-up easy.
Each campsite comes with its own picnic table and BBQ cooking grill. Water is available at this campground, and spigots are located throughout the campground's loops, as are the camp's restroom buildings.
Every site at the Ponderosa campground is available for use by either tents or RV's. There is a generous length allowance at the Ponderosa camping area, with rigs up to 45 feet long allowed. Most of the sites feature back-in style camping arrangements, but there are also pull-through sites available, as well. Unfortunately for RVers, though, no hookups are available at the campsites. There is a central sanitary dump station available, however. The park's interior roads are nicely-paved 2 lane streets.
One nice thing about planning a camping trip to the Payson area of the Tonto National Forest is the availability of other camping grounds should you arrive to find the Ponderosa campground full. The Ponderosa Campground sits along scenic Arizona highway 260, along which you'll find other camping choices (both public and private) if you should need to find a different spot.
Arizona state hwy 260 is a well-kept, nicely paved road. Sometimes it's only 2 lanes wide, and at other locations it has a full 4 lanes. While hilly, the terrain is never so steep that an RV or a vehicle pulling a trailer simply "can't make it." There's a scenic woodsy view along the route that outdoors-lovers will enjoy.
Other amenities at the Ponderosa campground is the availability of a Camp Host and the fact that you may purchase firewood on-site.
The "down side" of the Ponderosa campground? Well, you'll have to plan for your needs ahead of time, because there's no convenience store at the campground. Also, the recreational opportunities are limited. You'll be able to enjoy hiking through the beautiful woods, and the simple joy of relaxation...but there's no lake or stream in the immediate area. (There is, however, fishing available at Tonto Creek 3 miles away.)
Ponderosa Campground -- Practical Information
Directions to the Ponderosa Campground: The Tonto National Forest's Ponderosa Campground is situated at the junction of Arizona State Hwy 260 and the National Forest road NF 331. This location is situated about 15 miles east of Payson, Arizona. (There are suburbs of Payson which are even closer to the camp.)
Camping Fees at the Ponderosa Campground: Nightly camping fees at the Ponderosa camping ground are running $14/night in 2013. This amount includes your camping trailer/RV plus one automobile; the charge is $7 for a 2nd vehicle. Surprisingly, these campground fees are actually cheaper than in 2012! The cost for a group campsite is $75, just the same as last year.
Camping Season: the Ponderosa Campground is open from April 15th through October 31st each year. As mentioned above on this page, always double check right before making your camping trip to make sure that weather conditions or forest fires haven't closed the campground at the time you'll be visiting.
Campsites: There are 61 campsites at the Ponderosa campground, all without any water, sewer nor electrical hookups. An RV dump station is available. Running water is available, cold water only. There are no shower facilities at the Ponderosa camping ground.
Ponderosa Campground reservations: You may reserve your campsite at the Recreation.gov website. You may also find out general campground information and see a detailed map of the campground. Here's a link to the Ponderosa Campground reservations & information section of Recreation.gov. Some--but not all--of the camping sites are available for reservations, while other campsites have been set aside for first-come-first-served visitors. If you have difficulties making reservations or would prefer to reserve by phone, the Recreation.gov telephone number is 1-877-444-6777.
Ponderosa Campground Website: If you're planning to make a trip to the Ponderosa Campground, you may use the following link to read through the
official Tonto NF web page for the Ponderosa Campground.
In addition, you will probably want to check out the Tonto National Forest's official website. There, you can discover information about other NF camping spots, learn updates on weather & fire conditions, and find out about recreational facilities within the forest. Please use the following link to view the
Tonto National Forest's official website.