Bear Canyon Lake Campground is set around a long, narrow lake in Arizona’s Rim Country in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, and was built for fishing by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The dispersed campground is located at 7,560 feet above sea level around the clear water Bear Canyon Lake. The lake does not suffer from poor water conditions due to the 60 acre surface area and a depth of 50 feet in some parts of the lake. Because of the quality of the water, fishing is a popular activity, it also helps that the Arizona Department of Game and Fish stocks it with catchable-sized rainbow trout about six times each year.

Bear Canyon Lake Campground is a popular dispersed camping destination, despite being dispersed camping, having virtually no amenities, and requiring you to drive several miles down a rough dirt road to reach it. Bear Canyon Lake is a dispersed camping experience, so it is on you to find a flat spot to camp, which can be challenging on the steep banks of the canyon when it the area is busy. Vault Toilets are pretty much the only amenity you will find at Bear Canyon Lake Campground.

For purposes of campfire restrictions, this campground is considered to be an ‘undeveloped’ campground.  No campfires will be permitted when fire restrictions are in effect for the Apache-Sitgreaves Forest. Arizona fishing regulations apply and a trout stamp is required. The daily bag limit is six trout; three for unlicensed anglers under the age of 14. Boat motors are restricted to electric motors only.

Bear Canyon Lake Campground Features

Campground Type: Organized, Primitive
Number of Campsites: Dispersed Camping
Cost: Free
Use Level: High
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Fire Rings: None
Drinking Water: None
Toilets: Yes – Vault Toilets are located near the parking lot
Showers: None
Trash/Dumpsters: None – Pack-it Out
Hiking Access: Yes
Beach/Lake Access: Yes
RV/Trailer Length: N/A
RV/Trailer Amenities: None
Cell Phone Service: None
Wifi: None
Operating Season: Campground open late spring – late fall, weather dependent

Rim Road is closed during the winter, usually through April.

Getting There

Geo Coordinates: 34.405575, -111.0075417
Nearest City/Town: Payson, Arizona
Elevation: 7600 Feet
Location: Coconino County, Arizona
Paved Road Access: No
Proximity to Stores: 19 miles to Forest Lakes
Directions: From Heber, AZ take Arizona Highway 260 for 27 miles, turn right onto Forest Road 300 (Rim Road) which is located on the north side of the road directly across from the Rim Visitor Information Station. Travel for 12 miles. Turn right on Forest Road 89 travel for about 2.5 miles. The road will end at Bear Canyon Lake Campground.


Phone: (928) 535-7300 Facebook:
Web: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest Twitter:
Reservations: Not Accepted – First-come, First-served

When To Go

Summer –  Bear Canyon Lake Campground is a great escape from the Phoenix desert heat, later in the summer to fall there are often afternoon monsoon thunderstorms that build up on the Mogollon Rim (which can be fun to experience also).

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What To Do

Fishing – Arizona Game and Fish regularly stocks Bear Canyon Lake with multiple types of fish.

Image Credits: Devin Ford

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Justin is an IT Professional, focused on cloud, mobile, and infrastructure management and security with his consulting business, as well as chief bottle washer for this website. In addition to, Justin also runs and writes for the technology infrastructure-focused blog, and the mobile device-focused blog


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