Ponderosa Campground and Group Sites

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

Ponderosa CampgroundNamed for the towering pines under which it sits, Ponderosa Campground is tucked in the rolling forests of northern Arizona. As the fifth-largest forest in the country, the Tonto National Forest is one of the most-visited urban forests in the United States, boasting about 5.8 million visitors annually. Its boundaries are Phoenix to the south, the Mogollon Rim to the north and the San Carlos and Fort Apache Indian reservations to the east.

Natural Features: The ponderosa pine trees make this a memorable campground. Larger ponderosas release a vanilla scent into the air and have a relatively open understory, making the area perfect for camping. Mixed into the understory are junipers, oaks and manzanita shrubs. The campground sits on the border of the Mogollon Rim, pronounced by locals as "muggy-own," a 200-mile-long cliff in northern Arizona that ranges between 5,000 and 7,000 feet in elevation. The unique landscape was created by extreme erosion and faulting that has sculpted spectacular canyons and buttes. The rim serves as the geographical dividing line between the cool high country above and the hot, dry desert below.

Recreation: Most visitors enjoy walking along the campground's nature trail, traveling into the town of Payson, taking advantage of the area's hiking trails and lakes or simply relaxing at the campsite. Scenic driving and outdoor recreation abound in the surrounding Tonto National Forest. A series of lakes called the Rim Country Lakes are about a 15 minute drive east. Woods Canyon Lake is one of the most popular recreational lakes in the state and offers options for boating.

Facilities: The facility provides 48 single campsites and two group sites that can accommodate up to 50 people guests each. The campsites are clean, flat and spacious with a good amount of shade from pine trees.

Nearby Attractions: The nearby town of Payson, Arizona, offers restaurants, shopping and other conveniences.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Reservations through Recreation.gov are strongly advised where available. Restrooms will be serviced twice daily using the Covid-19 cleaning procedures and hand sanitizing stations may be available. Only 8 or fewer people will be allowed per single family site, and all group sites will remain closed for the foreseeable future. All contact stations will stay closed at this time; the host will collect fees at self-pay stations and the campsites when necessary.
Reservations: Reservations can be made by visiting Recreation.gov.  Reservations must be made 3 days ahead of arrival and can be made up to 6 months in advance for the standard sites or 12 months in advance for the group sites.
Fees $19 per night for standard sites; $95 per night for group sites, and extra vehicles $8 per day
Open Season: April 1st - November 2nd
Restrictions: No horseback riding.
Closest Towns: Payson
Water: Drinking Water
Restroom: Vault toilets
Information Center: Payson Ranger District (928) 474-7900

General Information


GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
34.29885800, -111.11365600
34°17'56"N, 111°6'51"W

From Payson, Arizona, go east on State Route 260. The campground is located on the south side of 260. A campground sign is visible before the campground entrance.

View and download a map.


There is a second vehicle charge of $8 per night. Second vehicle charge will be collected at time of check-in.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


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  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
4,600 feet