Houston Mesa Campground and Equestrian Sites

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

Collard LizardHouston Mesa Campground is located in the forested northern section of Tonto National Forest, just one mile north of Payson, Arizona and less than two hours from Phoenix. With family, equestrian and tent-only campsites, this campground can accommodate a range of visitors and offers plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors, including several miles of hiking and horseback riding trails nearby. As the fifth largest forest in the United States, the Tonto National Forest is one of the most-visited "urban" forests in the United States (approximately 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 campground is located at an elevation of 5,200 ft. in a mixed forest and shrub area, with spacious campsites offering both sun and shade. Winters are pleasant and cool with cold nighttime temperatures, while summers are warm and sunny, providing a nice getaway from the hotter deserts around Phoenix. Hawks, eagles, javelina, deer, fox, skunk and coyote live in the area.

Recreation: Many visitors come to Houston Mesa to horseback ride, hike, camp and picnic. Houston Mesa Loop Trail is a 9-mile round trip through a pinyon and juniper woodland and can be accessed from the horse camping area. The Houston Mesa Interpretive Trail is a 0.5-mile self-guided trail.

Facilities: Houston Mesa has 74 campsites, including 29 equestrian sites for campers with horses or mules, and 17 tent-only sites for those who want a quieter experience. There are several amenities to make campers feel at home, including showers (coin-operated) and flush toilets. All of the sites are accessible. The horse camping section (Mule Deer Loop) is across the street from the main campground and features 29 individual sites with tables and grills. Corrals are also available. Campers who reserve these sites must have horses or mules. Shower Building and Dump Station Closed due to Maintenance. 

There are two group sites that can host up to 75 people and can be reserved through Recreation.gov.

Nearby Attractions: Campers who make the quick trip to the town of Payson, one mile south, will find restaurants, shopping and other conveniences. Scenic driving and outdoor recreation abound in the surrounding Tonto National Forest, which embraces almost 3 million acres of rugged and spectacularly beautiful country, ranging from saguaro cactus-studded desert to pine-forested mountains beneath the Mogollon Rim.

At a Glance

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. Group units in the horse camp area can be reserved by calling 928-468-7135.
Area Amenities: Toilets,Drinking water
Fees Fees can be found at Recreation.gov.   Fees for sites range between $20 - $27 per night. Extra vehicles are $8 per day.
Open Season: Year Round (Horse Camp side closed December - January)
Restrictions: Dogs are allowed and must be kept on a 6 foot leash.
Closest Towns: Payson
Water: Drinking Water
Restroom: Flush Toilets - Shower Building and Dump Station Closed Due to Maintenance
Information Center: Payson Ranger District (928) 474-7900

General Information


GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
34.27, -111.31417
34°16'12"N, 111°18'51"W

From Payson, Arizona, go north for 1 mile to the junction of Highway 87 (Beeline Highway) and Forest Road 199 (Houston Mesa Road). Turn right (east) onto Forest Road 199 for .10 miles. The campground is on the north side of Houston Mesa Road.

View and download a map.


Accessible campsites and toilet


Second vehicle charge of $8 per night will be collected on-site.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Camping & Cabins

Hide detail HIDE

Campground Camping

There is a 2 tent maximum for this campground. No hookups.

No. of Sites 75
Reservation Info RESERVABLE UNITS IN EACH LOOP Elk Loop: 2,3,5,6,7,9,13,14,18,20,21,22,23,24 Bear Loop: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26 Mountain Lion Loop: 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,20,21 Mule Deer Loop – 18 sites
Fire Information Campfire rings available. Firewood can be purchases on-site for $7.
No. of Accessible sites 75

RV Camping

No hookups.

No. of Sites 75
Reservation Info 25 sites first come, first serve, 50 sites are reservable

Group Camping

Horse Riding & Camping

Show detail SHOW


Toilets Shower Building and Dump Station Closed Due to Maintenance.
Drinking water
Areas & Activities


  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
5,200 feet