Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The best way to find information on this page is to search by keyword: Hit the "Control" key on a PC (or "Command" key on a Mac) and the "F" key at the same time which will bring up a search box near the top of your browser window. Type in a key word or phrase (examples: reservations, report a fire, wood permit) and the results will be highlighted below.  If the first answer is not what you're looking for, scroll down, or use the "Enter" key to jump to the next highlighted text. 

If you are unable to find the answer to your question here, please feel free to call one of our offices, or contact us and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.  Please not that if your email doesn't get a reply after a business day or two has passed, you may have your email set to block unknown emailers. Check your settings and try again. Thank you!

 

To Report a Fire: Is it an emergency? Call 911!  Also for emergencies only, Prescott National Forest Dispatch can be reached at 928-777-5700 during regular business hours (which vary seasonally, but assume 8 - 4:30 Monday - Friday to be safe).  Non-emergency calls go to Yavapai County Sheriff's Office Dispatch: 928-771-3260 

Recreation

  • Family Campgrounds: There are 11 family campgrounds on the Prescott National Forest. Lynx Lake and Hilltop are open April 1 to October 31, Potato Patch, Mingus Mountain, and Lower Wolf Creek Campgrounds are open May 1 – October 31.  White SparYavapaiPowell Springs, and Alto Pit are open year-round, but may have limited services.  There is also an equestrian campground for people camping with horses only (Groom Creek Horse Camp), and another specialized campground is located inside Alto Pit OHV Area where anyone is welcome to spend the night (Alto Pit OHV Campground).  
  • Group Campgrounds:  There are four Group Campgrounds on the Forest: Eagle Ridge (100 people), Playground (100 people), Upper Wolf Creek (100 people), and Turney Gulch (50 people).  All are open seasonally, with varying schedules, amenities, and fees.  Details can be found on each site's webpage.
  • Dispersed Camping: Dispersed camping is camping outside of a developed campground.  There are no permits required for groups of less than 75 people, but you are responsible for knowing the regulations before planning to dispersed camp on the Forest.  Additionally, we recommend calling the Forest for advice if you plan to dispersed camp with a large group--even if you are fewer than 75 people--so the Forest is aware of the situation and to ensure that your group doesn't interfere with other permitted activities on the Forest.  Please visit the Dispersed Camping webpage for more information.
  • Cabins: Sycamore and Horsethief Cabins are available for overnight use, and Groom Creek Schoolhouse is available for day use.  These facilities are available by reservation only.  Sycamore may be rented year-round, but the others are open May 1 – October 31.
  • Reservations: Please note that reservations are handled by an outside vendor. The Forest is unable to make, cancel, or confirm reservations. A link to the reservation website can be found on each facility's webpage. Campsites in our specialized campgrounds (Groom Creek Horse Camp and Alto Pit OHV Campground) are available only by reservation.  Campsites can be reserved at Lynx Lake, White Spar, and Yavapai Campgrounds.  Hilltop and Potato Patch Campgrounds will added to the reservation system starting in 2018.  Other than Lynx Lake Campground and Alto Pit OHV Campground), some sites in reservation campgrounds are kept off the reservation system so they are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

Campground Fees & Reservations: Rental cabins, group campgrounds and picnic areas, and sites at many Prescott National Forest campgrounds can be reserved from two days to six months in advance.  Campgrounds with sites available on a first-come-first-served basis only include Mingus Mountain, Powell Springs, Lower Wolf Creek, and Hazlett Hollow.  Campgrounds on the reservation system include Lynx Lake, White Spar, Yavapai, Groom Creek Horse Camp, and Alto Pit OHV Campground.  Starting late in 2017, campers will also be able to reserve sites at  Hilltop and Potato Patch Campground for the 2018 camping season.  Details will be announced when a launch date is set.

 

  • Why are some campgrounds on the reservation system? Reservations provide more reliability for campers needing certain dates to accommodate travel plans or who require specific types of services. Reservations also help the Forest Service better manage campgrounds by accurately planning for busy days, helping schedule maintenance when sites are unoccupied, and it also reduces money handling in the field making it safer for volunteer hosts and field personnel.
  • How do reservations work?  The national reservation service Recreation.gov, provides online and telephone access to make a reservation.  Direct links to reserve a specific site are also privided on each site's webpage (above).
    • Online: Log on to www.recreation.gov, then search for the desired facility. A great deal of information is provided online including photos to aid in site selection. Once you make a choice, create your account if you do not already have one, and make your payment online.
    • Phone: Call toll free to 1-877-444-6777 and a customer service representative will walk you through the process and take your payment over the phone.
  • Is there a fee and does my Access Pass or Senior Pass work? The overnight camping fee and extra vehicle fee stay the same. The reservation service charges $10 per reservation, no matter how many nights you book at that campground. Senior and Access passes will still be honored for a 50% discount off the overnight camping fee.
  • Are there any first-come-first-served sites in reservation campgrounds? Yes, some sites at most of our reservation campgrounds cannot be reserved and will be available to accommodate campers on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • Site and Fee Schedule: The Forest is open year-round, though some developed recreation sites close seasonally.  Fees vary depending on the amenities available (e.g., restrooms, trash service, water, etc.)  This information can be found on the webpage of the site you plan to visit.  Wednesdays are always fee-free at day use sites.

Spreading Ashes/Memorial:  The Forest doesn't issue permits authorizing the scattering of ashes, but there aren't any regulations that prohibit it either.  The following acts are prohibited: establishment of monuments, burying a memorial box containing ashes, and commercial entities spreading ashes for another party as a paid service. Personal scatterings should be discreet, conducted in the backcountry (not a developed recreation site or busy trail).  Please note that group gatherings of more than 75 people require a Special Use permit.

Spreading Ashes/Memorial: The Forest Service "Plant-A-Tree" Program permits individuals and groups to donate money for planting trees on National Forests. The trees may be planted to memorialize loved ones or to commemorate special events such as births, weddings, or anniversaries. For a suggested minimum donation of $10, which pays for 10-15 seedlings, donors receive a certificate acknowledging their gift. If desired, the name of the person in whose honor the donation is made will appear on the certificate. The trees, planted mostly in large plantations, will not be individually identified by donor. Smaller (or larger) donations will be acceptable in most cases. Business groups may participate in the program as long as their participation is non-commercial. Donations may be made in person and by mail at all Forest Service offices. Forest Service offices are listed in the telephone directory under "U.S. Government, Department of Agriculture." There are two other similar programs. The American Forests group plants memorial trees in national forests in honor of loved ones. Find out more about the Memorial Trees campaign at http://www.americanforests.org/campaigns/memorial_trees. The Arbor Day Foundation plants "Trees in Memory and Trees in Celebration at http://www.arborday.org/join/treecelebration.html.

Special Use Permits: Special uses of Forest lands include road easements, communication towers, commercial filming, outfitter-guides, privately-owned cabins, organization camps, recreation events, and gatherings of groups of 75 or more people.  Prescott National Forest also has two educational partners under Special Use permit: the Highlands Center for Natural History, and the Walnut Creek Center for Education and Research.  Special Events: Prescott National Forest hosts several large recreation events each year.  If you want to inquire about holding an event, or have questions related to Recreation Special Uses, please contact us. For questions related to road easements or communication towers, please use the following link to contact us.

Weddings and Group Gatherings: Permits are not required unless there will be 75 or more people attending.  Historic Groom Creek Schoolhouse has an outdoor amphitheater that is perfect for weddings or other ceremonies or performances, as well as indoor accomodations.  Thumb Butte Group Picnic Area is another day use site available for group gatherings. The Forest has four group campgrounds are available seasonally should all or part of your group wish to camp overnight. 

Organization Camps: There are four organization camps on the Forest operated under Special Use Permit: Patterdell Pines - http://www.stacc.net/camp-patterdell-pines-awaits-you-in-prescott/, Pine Summit - http://www.pinesummitcamp.com/, Camp Sky-Y - https://azycamps.org/our-camps/, and Camp Wamotochick - http://www.teenroundup.org/index.html  For questions related to organization camps, please contact the permittee (the organization that runs the camp).  If you need to contact the Forest concerning one of these camps, please contact us, but please note that the information we have is related to the Special Use Permit and not specifics such as how to reserve a camp.

Trails: There are several ways to find trail information.  To find trails in a specific area, use the map on the main recreation page where you'll find markers that will take you to the webpage of a given area.  Use the left-hand navigation bar to find trails by use type (e.g., hiking, equestrian, mountain biking, and OHV).  Please note that hikers are allowed on ALL trails, but some trails were designed with other user types in mind, such as OHVs or motorcycles, so those trails may not be the type of experience you're after.  There are eight Wilderness Areas on the Forest where only hikers and equestrians are allowed on the trails.  You can find more information about our most popular trails on this website.  If you're looking for information about our less-traveled trails, please find what you can on the web, then contact us if you need more information and we'll get back with you as soon as possible.    

Hunting & Fishing: Wildlife, hunting, and fishing are managed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.  Please visit their website for information about hunting and fishing licenses, regulations, etc.

Hang Gliding: The Mingus Hang Glider Launch is under a special use permit to the Arizona Hang Glider and Paraglider Association.  There is a gate that is closed during the winter that blocks access to the hang glider launch, but members of the AZHPA can gain access via a combination lock.  Unless you're associated with AZHPA, you'll have to wait until the gate is open on May 1 to access the launch by car.  It is only about a one-mile walk from the gate to the launch; however, parking at the gate can be tricky as vehicles must not block the gate.  There is space for one or two vehicles to safely park near the gate.

Viewing Nature: 

Target Shooting: There is no official target shooting range on the Prescott National Forest; however, it is usually legal to shoot responsibly on the forest.  Restrictions are often imposed when fire danger is high, and shooting near recreation sites, or dispersed campsites is not allowed.  Please visit our Target Shooting webpage for more information. 

Passes & Permits

Recreation Passes at Day-use sites: Wednesdays are always fee-free at Prescott NF day-use sites. The rest of the week a $5.00 per vehicle fee is charged at sites with amenities such as water, restrooms, and trash service.  There are numerous interagency passes available, some that are good for a year, and others that are lifetime passes.  The Forest also sells passes that work only at sites on the Prescott NF: $20.00 for 4-months, and $40.00 for a year-long pass. There is quite a bit of information about the various passes here on the website.  Please feel free to contact us if you’re unable to find the answer to your question after reviewing the information we have online: Standard Amenity Fees and Sites (Day-use), Valid Passes, Decision Tree (to help figure out which pass is best for you).

Employment:Visit our employment webpage to learn more about Forest Service jobs and current openings on the Prescott National Forest. For information on firefighting jobs, please visit the Forest Service's national fire employment webpage.

 

Volunteering: Please visit our Volunteering webpage, and contact us if you don’t find the answer to your question there, or to apply for a volunteer position.  If you’re interested in volunteering to help maintain trails, contact Trails Management.

 

Forest Products

  • Fuelwood (Firewood) Permits, Manzanita Collection, Mistletoe: Please visit our Forest Products Permits webpage for more information, and contact us if you’re unable to find the answer to your question there.
  • Wood for Campfires/Camp Fires: You do not need a permit to collect dead and down wood to use while camping on the Forest.  Please note that dead and down wood near developed campgrounds and designated dispersed camp sites may be scarce so you might have to collect wood elsewhere on the Forest.  It is also important to note that pests can be transmitted in wood, so it is best to purchase fire wood locally if you're unable to collect your own.  Left over wood should be left on site as a permit is required to gather wood for use outside the Forest.
  • Timber Sales: The Prescott is not a big logging forest, but we do have contractors thin trees at times.  Timber sales are advertised in the newspaper and related documents are posted on our website at the bottom of the Natural Resources webpage.  

Minerals & Mining: There is a great deal of information on our website about hobby rock and mineral collecting.  If you don’t find the answer to your question in our online information, contact us with your questions about rocks, minerals, or mining. 

Roads: Road conditions can deteriorate quickly, particularly after winter storms or during the summer monsoon season.  Many of our developed recreation sites are located on, or near, paved roads.  If you want to know about road conditions to reach a recreation site, please visit the site's webpage for this information.  If you are interested in the condition of other roads on the forest, please contact us.  

Alerts & Notices

  • Fire Restrictions, Temporary Closures, and Forest Orders (Public Notices) can be found under Alerts & Warnings near the top of the page on the right-hand side. 
  • Prescribed Burning/Smoke: News releases are put out when the Forest plans for prescribed burning.  Please contact us if you would like to be added to the list of smoke sensitive people and you will receive an email when a burn-related news release comes out.  If you are bothered by smoke from a controlled burn, please read the information below about why the Forest prescribes burning, and how and when burns are scheduled.  Please note that some people leave the area during prescribed burns and you might need to find a similar strategy to protect your health.

While we sympathize with those who have smoke-related health concerns, fire is a natural part of the ecosystems that make up the forests in this area.  Fire is required to maintain healthy and productive forests for water, wildlife, grazing, wood, minerals, and recreation.  Healthy forests are less likely to experience catastrophic wildfires which are expensive and dangerous to fight.  If you lived in the area during the 2013 fire season, you likely remember the Doce Fire, which burned over Granite Mountain and threatened area homes, and the Yarnell Hill Fire, in which homes were burned and 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots lost their lives.  In an effort to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires like this, Fire Managers introduce fire during the winter when weather conditions allow low-intensity fires to burn.  Please visit our Prescribed Fire webpage to learn more about the critical role fire plays in forest health.