Tortilla Campground in Tonto National Forest
Tortilla Campground in Tonto National Forest

Tortilla Campground in Tonto National Forest

Summer camping in the desert has its own challenges and that is why Tortilla Campground is only open from October through April each year. This winter campground is located just outside of the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Tortilla Campground
Entrance to the Tortilla Campground – NPS Photo

Located in the Tonto National Forest, urban dwellers and campers can take advantage of cooler temperatures during the winter months. Visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, hiking, rock climbing, and scenic driving throughout the surrounding rugged bluffs, saguaro cactus-covered hills of Tonto National Forest.

The Tonto National Forest, encompassing 2,873,200 acres and has a total of 62 unique campgrounds. It is the largest of the six national forests in Arizona and is the fifth largest national forest in the United States.

Tortilla Campground
Tortilla Campground – NPS Photo

The Tortilla Campground is located directly across from the historic Apache Trail and Tortilla Flat, Arizona, which has a general store and restaurant.

Reservations:Visit or call 1 (877) 444-6777.
Fees:$20 per site per night; Camp host collects campground fees with a handheld card reader (no cash).
Open Season:October 1 – March 31
Restrictions:Stay limit 14 days – Trailers under 30’
Closest Towns:Apache Junction & Canyon Lake marina
Water:Drinking Water
Restroom:Flushing Toilets
Information Center:Mesa Ranger District (480) 610-3300
Tortilla Campground in Tonto National Forest

Campground Facilities: 

The campground is large yet compact, with campsites in close proximity of one another. Every campsite has a view of the surrounding desert, some with views of mountain peaks and cliffs. The facility accommodates RVs and has sewage hookups. Each campsite comes with a picnic table and a campfire ring with a cooking grate.

Town of Tortilla Flat
Town of Tortilla Flat – NPS Photo

Services at the end of Tortilla Flat include a post office, restaurant, gift shop and public cellular credit card phone (emergency 911). Canyon Lake and Marina is located two miles west and includes public boat launches and picnic/fishing sites, a restaurant, excursion boats and boat rentals.

Natural Features: 

The Superstition Wilderness Area is starkly beautiful and untamed. A series of dams has created numerous lakes along the Salt River. Blossoming plants bring the desert to life each spring with colorful flowers. The area can be harsh for travelers not equipped to meet nature on her own terms.

Tonto National Forest
Tonto National Forest – NPS Photo

Soaring temperatures and little water are typical conditions in the summer. In winter, temperatures are typically pleasant during the day but drop significantly at night. Visitors should come prepared for anything, even the occasional rain or snow.


The area is rich with human history, scenery and outdoor recreation. The campground lies along the Canyon Lake Apache Trail Scenic Byway, a former Apache Tribal route turned stagecoach road. Visitors may hear stories of lost cowboys and gold mining. The drive to the campground provides ample scenery, though taking a day trip to Lake Roosevelt allows for even more breathtaking views.

Theodore Roosevelt Dam
Aerial View of the Theodore Roosevelt Dam – By Grant Martin – CC BY-SA 3.0

The 21,500-acre Roosevelt Lake is 25 miles away, and the 990-acre Canyon Lake is just down the road. Both provide fishing and boating options. The Superstition Wilderness has a well-developed trail system, and the western end of the wilderness receives heavy use during the cooler times of the year. Trail conditions can be fair or poor, and several are unsuitable for horses.

Nearby Attractions: 

The 327-ft. Theodore Roosevelt Dam and lake are 25 miles beyond Tortilla Flat along the scenic byway. Tonto National Monument, which has well-preserved Puebloan cliff dwellings from the 13th to 15th centuries, is about 8 miles south of the dam. 

Lower Cliff Dwelling NPS Photo/ J. Smith
Lower Cliff Dwelling NPS Photo/ J. Smith
Ships Captain The Dread Pirate Dave

David is the Editor in Chief of Postcards From the Edge. I was born on a cold November morning on the showy plains of Colorado. Like my father, before me, I am an American Nomad.

View stories