Sustainable Recreation

Fee Proposal

Saguaro LakeSaguaro LakeSaguaro Lake Boats and DocksCave Creek Picnic AreaApache Lake Recreation AreaDeveloped CampsiteSaguaro Lake - KayakersSaguaro Lake - Boats and Boat Ramp


The Tonto National Forest wants your input by October 24, 2014.  The Tonto National Forest is proposing to modify its existing recreation fee structure to continue to maintain and operate its developed recreation sites.This proposal was developed in response to public feedback during a series of Sustainable Recreation Open Houses and a Fee Attitude Survey conducted by Arizona State University.  The goal of both outreach efforts was to engage visitors and stakeholders to understand what they want in a Developed Recreation Program. 

What we learned from our inquiries:

  • Tonto visitors (95%) generally do not want a reduction in recreation services but understand that some sites may be over built. 
  • Many would like to see additional amenities such as electrical hook-ups at campgrounds
  • Trash receptacles, designated parking, and vault toilets are the most important facilities within developed recreation sites. 
  • Fish cleaning stations and fishing piers were rated as the least important.   
  • Visitors to fee sites generally understand the need for a fee program and believe that changes to the fee program will not have an effect on the way they visit an area.
  • Visitors want more convenient ways to pay fees. 

Based on the findings, the Tonto is proposing to 1) remove 6 Standard Amenity Fee Areas and manage for standalone recreation sites, 2) Establish a new fee for fee machine payment for day use, watercraft use, and camping, and 3) decrease, increase, and eliminate fees at specific recreation sites. 

Existing and Proposed Fees

Fee Type Current Fee Proposed Fee Descriptions

Standard Amenity

Recreation Fee Areas (Apache Lake, Roosevelt Lake, Seven Springs, Bartlett Lake, Upper Verde (Horseshoe), and Lower Verde (Needle Rock)


Eliminate Fee

Remove the Standard Amenity Fee Area designation and retain stand-alone standard amenity and expanded amenity fee sites.  Change the fee type from standard amenity to special recreation permit for the shorelines.  Fees would be eliminated outside of the stand-alone standard amenity and expanded amenity fee areas, and special recreation permit shorelines

Daily Tonto Pass


$8 (off-site purchase through vendor network or FS office)

Valid at standard amenity sites, expanded amenity boat launches, and special recreation permit shorelines

Watercraft Sticker (Expanded Amenity Fee – Highly Developed Boat Launches)


No change; $4 off-site purchase through vendor network or Forest Service office

Required for launching motorized watercraft at highly developed boat launches

Fee Machine purchase of Daily Tonto Pass and Watercraft Sticker (Expanded Amenity Fee)

Fee Machine Pass purchase not currently available

$12 daily Tonto Pass from Fee Machine
$6 watercraft sticker from fee machine

New fee for purchasing passes through a fee machine for standard amenity sites, expanded amenity boat launches, and special recreation permit shorelines

Tonto Annual Pass

$95 $80

Use of standard amenity sites, expanded amenity boat launches (including launching motorized boats) and special recreation permit shorelines (Valid where daily Tonto Pass and watercraft sticker are required – not valid for camping)

Camping (family CGs)

Group CGs and picnic area

(Expanded Amenity Fee)







Overnight use of developed family and group campgrounds and group picnic areas.  Camping fee also covers payment of recreation fees where the daily Tonto Pass is accepted (i.e. standard amenity and expanded amenity day use sites and special recreation permit shoreline areas).  A separate watercraft sticker must be purchased for launching boats at the expanded amenity boat launches.


Comments: Tonto recreation planners are seeking comments on this proposal by October 24, 2014.  Comments can be sent via email, postal mail, or orally by calling the Tonto Supervisor’s Office.


US Postal Service:

Tonto National Forest Supervisors Office
Attn: Tonto Pass Fee Proposal
2324 E. McDowell Road
Phoenix, AZ 85006

Telephone: 602-225-5200