Rustler Park is a wildflower-carpeted meadow high in the Chiricahuas. Around the turn of the century, rustlers concealed stolen stock there while altered brands healed and pursuit cooled. Today, the meadow provides a cool mountain respite from the deserts below. Rimmed with Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine, the meadow is sprinkled with seasonal wildflowers.
Campsites at Rustler Park were scattered in the shade of tall trees along access roads that have been purposefully kept out of the meadow to avoid damaging fragile plants and soils. Since the Horseshoe II fire in 2011, the campground has been rebuilt and the campsites now have canopies to give visitors shade.
Rustler Park is an excellent place to pursue birdwatching. Larger animals, including black bear, are frequently spotted here, too. Trails lead from the campground into the Chiricahua Wilderness and to other places of interest.
Note: Black bears in area.
At a Glance
Rustler Park opens April 1st of each year. It closes October 31st for the winter.
Camping: $10 per night. Picnicking or other day use in Campgrounds: $10 per day. All fees are payable by cash, check or money order at the time you occupy the site. Make check or money order payable to "USDA Forest Service."
RV Camping is 22 feet and less. No hook-ups. Trailers limited to 22 feet. Pack it in, pack it out. Pack and saddle stock are not permitted in campground. No water. Limit 2 vehicles and 10 persons per site. 14 day stay limit.
Portal 18 miles west.
No drinking water. It's always a good idea to bring drinking water with you on your camping trip.
Douglas Ranger District
Directions: 120 miles east of Tucson, 18 miles west of Portal. Access: From Tucson, take I-10 east 81 miles. Turn right (south) on AZ 186 and continue for 23 miles. Turn left (east) on AZ 181 toward Chiricahua National Monument and drive 3 miles, then turn right (south) on Forest Road 42. From Douglas, take US 80 two miles west to US 191. Go north on US 19135 miles to Sunizona. Take AZ 181 east, then north, for approximately 28 miles (stay on paved road) to FR 42. Continue up FR 42 (Pinery Canyon) 12 miles to Forest Road 42D. Turn right at Onion Saddle and drive approximately 2.5 miles to Rustler Park Campground. Forest Roads 42 and 42D are gravel roads suitable for two-wheel drive passenger vehicles, though high-clearance vehicles such as pickup trucks or SUVs are recommended.
Mountain meadow setting, Forested sites, Birdwatching/wildlife watching and Forest trails. When hiking, pack it in, pack it out.
Trails lead from the campground into the Chiricahua Wilderness and to other places of interest. The Crest Trail #270, is accessible via a trailhead in the campground’s outer loop, or by a 4-wheel drive road south of the campground entrance. Bootlegger #257 trailhead is located here.
During winter, walk-in traffic is welcome into the campground.
Rustler Park is a favorite for bird enthusiasts. The entire Chiricahua Mountain Range is home to a diverse array of zoological inhabitants. White-tail deer and brown bears also enjoy the higher elevation.