Tonto Pass FAQ

Questions & Answers


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why are recreation fees necessary?

Recreation sites that are heavily used by forest visitors require substantial improvements and maintenance for such amenities as:

  • Designated developed parking areas
  • Permanent toilet facilities
  • Permanent trash receptacles
  • Interpretive signs, exhibits, or kiosks
  • Security services

What many people do not realize is that recreation opportunities on the national forests are highly subsidized by American taxpayers. The Recreation Fee Program is a result of the support of those individuals who derive direct benefit from the forest to invest directly in their chosen activity, rather than asking all taxpayers--especially those who never visit national forests--to pay more.

The Tonto Pass part of the Recreation Fee program asks individuals to play a direct and supportive role in caring for the lands they use and enjoy, to make a small investment to help ensure a bright future for recreation opportunities on the Tonto National Forest.

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Who will need to purchase a Tonto Pass?

This is a pass for use in developed recreation sites on the Tonto National Forest. Visitors to the forest will be required to display the Tonto Pass in their vehicles when recreating at these sites. The Tonto Pass is a local forest pass, required only on the Tonto National Forest. Go to the link below to view a listing of the recreation sites that require a recreation fee.

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How will I know where the fee is required when I'm in the forest?

Recreation fee information will be posted at various locations. Look for the signs shown below to be posted near the entry to designated recreation fee sites.


Fee sign Fee sign Fee sign

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Are there exceptions to the need for a Tonto Pass?

You will not need a pass when simply traveling through the forest or when stopping for activities incidental to through travel (stretch break, photo-opportunity, restroom use, stopping for information at ranger stations, visitor centers and other Forest Service offices, etc.). Volunteers and educational institutions, such as schools that bring children to the forest for an outing, are also exempt when issued an administrative pass.

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What is an administrative pass?

National Forests are managed for multiple use. We realize that people may visit their public lands for purposes other than recreation. For that reason, we have implemented an "administrative pass" program for educational groups, volunteers, and others conducting business who may be on the forest. Administrative passes are issued free for convenience purposes. They must be requested through the Forest Service office where you plan to visit.

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What about places like campgrounds, where I already pay?

Many campgrounds are also covered with a Tonto Pass. Exceptions are campgrounds operated under a concession permit. If you're uncertain whether or not you need a Pass, please call your local Forest Service office or view the listing of:


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What about America the Beautiful- the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands pass?

National interagency Senior and Access pass holders (including Golden Age and Golden Access Passports) are entitled to a 50 percent discount on the price of the Tonto Pass and watercraft use stickers. Tonto Senior Discovery Passes and watercraft use stickers can be purchased in person at Tonto National Forest offices, online or via phone order by calling 602-225-5366.

National interagency Annual Passes are valid for entrance to federal parks and recreation sites and for use at certain day use sites with limited facilities. All Tonto National Forest sites where a Tonto Pass is required have expanded amenities which are not covered by the national interagency passes.

National interagency Senior and Access passes must be displayed along with the Tonto Senior Discovery Pass.

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What if I have more than one vehicle?

All vehicles parked at fee sites require a Tonto Daily Pass and a watercraft use sticker, if applicable. Multiple vehicles in the same party must each display a Tonto Pass.

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What if I stay multiple days?

Each Tonto Pass is good for one 24-hour period. Remember to buy enough passes so that you are able to post a new pass for each 24-hour period.

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What about Refunds, Exchanges or Extensions?

There are NO refunds or exchanges given for Tonto Passes once they have been purchased. Passes that are validated prior to arriving at the site cannot be extended even if the site is full or closed. That’s why it is important not to validate a Tonto Pass until you reach your destination and know that the site is open for use on the date you wish to recreate.

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Will I receive a ticket (citation) for not displaying a Tonto Pass ?

Any vehicle not properly displaying a Tonto Pass is subject to a notice of non-compliance, a warning notice, or a citation.

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