SB Cove Campground is located at Bartlett Lake in Tonto National Forest and is a dispersed campground offering camping and on the shores of the lake. Situated on the Verde River, Bartlett Lake, like most lakes in Arizona is a man-made reservoir. While the reservoir stores water for the Greater Phoenix area it also provides some great camping and recreation opportunities. SB Cove Campground does not offer many amenities, but it does have a great view and direct lake access including a nearby boat ramp. SB Cove Campground does not have a designated number of campsites and the amount of space available for camping will vary with the level of the lake.

SB Cove Campground Bottom Line

Bartlett Lake is an oasis in the desert that can easily be accessed via a short drive from the Phoenix area. However, this easy access leads to heavy use during the early summer and fall and as such the campgrounds, including SB Cove Campground, can get littered with trash despite the Forest Service’s best efforts to keep it clean.

When the lake level is lower a larger area for campsites is available providing more space between you and other campers. The best campsites at SB Cove Campground tend to be right against the lake shore, but they can be hard to get unless you arrive early on peak weekends to claim your campsite.

While ground fires are allowed, you must use a fire ring made of stone or metal.

SB Cove Campground Features

Campground Type: Dispersed, Primitive
Number of Campsites: Not Specified
Cost: $6/day via Required Tonto Pass
Use Level: High
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Fire Rings: None – Ground fires are allowed with a rock or metal fire ring.
Drinking Water: None
Toilets: Yes – Vault Toilets
Showers: None
Trash/Dumpsters: Yes
Hiking Access: No
Beach/Lake Access: Yes
RV/Trailer Length: Not Specified
RV/Trailer Amenities: None
Cell Phone Service: Limited on all carriers
Wifi: None
Operating Season: Open All Year

No services. PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT. Glass containers prohibited. Bury human waste 6-8 inches and at least 200 feet away from camp, trails, water sources, and dry drainages.

Camping Supply List

Getting There

Geo Coordinates: 33.873787, –111.615729
Nearest City: Cave Creek, Arizona
Elevation: 1780’
Location: Phoenix Area – Maricopa County, Arizona
Paved Road Access: Partial – Recreation Area roads unpaved
Proximity to Stores: Approximately 4 miles at Bartlett Marina
Directions: This site is 24 miles east of Carefree. Take Cave Creek Road 7 miles to the junction with Forest Road (FR) 205. Turn right and travel 6 miles to the junction of FR 205 and FR 19. At this junction take FR 19 for 7 miles to FR 459 and turn left. Continue on FR 459 for 3 miles to the site.

Tonto Passes are required for each vehicle and watercraft. Passes can be purchased in advance online or at retail outlets. The closest retail outlets to SB Cove Campground are Bartlett Lake Marina or the Cave Creek Ranger District office.

Camping Supply List


Phone: (480) 595-3300 – Cave Creek Ranger District Facebook: Bartlett Lake Facebook Page
Web: Tonto National Forest Twitter:
Reservations: Not Accepted

When To Go

Spring, Early Summer, Fall – Summer temperatures at SB Cove Campground will exceed 100 degrees daily

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SB Cove Pictures

Image Credits: Justin Wilson


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