Box Bar Recreation Area is a dispersed campground in the riparian area along the Verde River in Tonto National Forest that is heavily bordered with willows, cottonwoods, and desert scrub. In addition to the trees and foliage at Bar Bar, there is plenty of wildlife, mainly birds, which flock to the natural landscape and wetlands made by the Verde River. The Box Bar area is also a known Bald Eagle nesting area, which may lead to closures at certain times of the year.

Camping at Box Bar Recreation Area is an on your own experience, with no facilities or amenities available at the recreation site. You will need to bring your own water, and pack your own trash out. Bury human waste 6-8 inches deep, away from water supplies. Tonto Passes are required to park a vehicle here. The cost is $6 per vehicle, per day. Tonto Passes are not sold at Box Bar, you must purchase at a nearby gas station or convenience store. There is a store at the intersection of Arizona Highway 87 and Fort McDowell Rd as well as other stores in nearby Rio Verde.

Use caution when camping as snakes and scorpions can be found in this area, especially in warm weather.

Box Bar Recreation Area Features

Campground Type: Dispersed, Primitive 
Number of Campsites: N/A
Cost: $6 per vehicle, $4 per watercraft via Tonto Pass
Use Level: Low
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Fire Rings: None
Drinking Water: None
Toilets: None
Showers: None
Trash/Dumpsters: None
Hiking Access: Yes
Beach/Lake Access: Yes – River Bank Only
RV/Trailer Length: N/A
RV/Trailer Amenities: None
Cell Phone Service: Possible
Wifi: None
Operating Season: Year Round – Possible Closures During Bald Eagle Nesting

Getting There

Geo Coordinates: 33.743547, -111.661100
Nearest City: Fountain Hills, Arizona
Elevation: 1400 Feet
Location: Maricopa County, Arizona
Paved Road Access: None
Proximity to Stores: Store located in Rio Verde, Arizona
Directions: This site is about 9 miles NE of Fountain Hills.From Arizona Highway 87 in Fountain Hills

  • At the intersection of AZ 87 and Ft. McDowell Rd, drive north on Ft. McDowell Rd.
  • At 5.5 miles, the road will turn sharply to left, immediately bringing you to Y-fork in the road.  Keep right, turning onto Mustang Way.
  • Continue north on Mustang Way.  You’ll soon drive through a 4-mile stretch of a good gravel road, taking you to the town of Rio Verde.  The pavement picks up again here at the east-west road of McDowell Mountain Rd.
  • At this point, continue 2.2 more miles north on Mustang Way, looking for Box Bar Rd on your right.  It is located about 200 meters north of the edge of a golf course on your right. Or, about 200 meters north of Rio Verde Rd. coming in from the left.
  • Turn east onto Box Bar Rd. and proceed 0.4 miles to an unmarked dirt road on the left
  • Continue for 0.3 miles on this dirt road until you reach a relatively wide open “parking” area near the river.

From North Scottsdale

  • From the intersection of Pima Rd. and Dynamite Rd., go east on Dynamite Rd. about 12.8 miles until you reach Needle Rock Rd. (aka, Mustang Way or Ft. McDowell Rd.).
  • Turn north onto Needle Rock Rd. and proceed about 200 meters, looking for Box Bar Rd to the east.
  • Turn east onto Box Bar Rd. and proceed 0.4 miles to an unmarked dirt road on the left
  • Continue for 0.3 miles on this dirt road until you reach a relatively wide open “parking” area near the river.

Pack List


Phone: (480) 595-3300 Facebook:  
Web: Tonto National Forest – Box Bar
Reservations: Not Accepted

When To Go

Spring, Early Summer, & Fall – Summertime at Box Bar Recreation Area can be very hot, especially for tent camping.

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Box Bar Recreation Area Pictures


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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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