Horseshoe Campground is a semi-primitive, dispersed campground below Horseshoe Dam and Lake on the Verde River in Tonto National Forest. Fishing is one of the biggest attractions to Horseshoe Campground, as the area below the dam often features some of the best catfish and bass fishing in the state. The campground provides access boating in the Verde River as well as Horseshoe Lake, depending on water levels. The location around Horseshoe Campground is features scenic Sonoran Desert and mountain vistas. The campsites at Horseshoe Campground are partially shaded by the mesquite trees that grow along the Verde River.

Horseshoe Campground was listed as a developed, non-primitive campground up until mid-2012, and had 12 designated campsites. Today it is officially a dispersed campground, allowing you to camp wherever you can find a spot to pitch your tent. However, the 12 campsites still exist and offer picnic tables and fire rings. Vault Toilets are the only other facilities you will find at Horseshoe Campground.

There is a primitive boat ramp available half a mile to the north for accessing Horseshoe Lake. The Marina at Bartlett Lake offers the closest camping supplies. Dispersed camping space varies with the water level of the Verde River. Access to the campground is via a rough dirt road.

Horseshoe Campground may be closed and inaccessible due to flooding when large amounts of water are released from Horseshoe Dam.

Horseshoe Campground Features

Campground Type: Dispersed, Semi-Primitive
Number of Campsites: Not Specified
Cost: $9/day via Required Tonto Pass
Use Level: Low
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Fire Rings: None
Drinking Water: None
Toilets: Yes – Vault Toilets
Showers: None
Trash/Dumpsters: None – Pack it out
Hiking Access: Yes – Limited designated trails
Beach/Lake Access: Yes – Riverside Beach
RV/Trailer Length: Not Specified
RV/Trailer Amenities: None
Cell Phone Service: None
Wifi: None
Operating Season: Campground Open Year-round

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.

Getting There

Geo Coordinates: 33.977207, -111.716945
Nearest City: Carefree, Arizona
Elevation: 1960 Feet
Location: Phoenix Area – Maricopa County, Arizona
Paved Road Access: None
Proximity to Stores: 18 miles at Bartlett Lake Marina
Directions: From Carefree, head east for 5 miles on Cave Creek Road. Turn right on to Bartlett Dam Road (FR 205). Drive for 6 miles and turn left on to Horseshoe Dam Road (Also FR 205).  Drive on the unpaved road for 10 miles to Horseshoe Campground.

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 Horseshoe Campground are Bartlett Lake Marina or the Cave Creek Ranger District office.

Pack List


Phone: (480) 595-3300 – Cave Creek Ranger District
Web: Tonto National Forest
Reservations: Not Accepted – First come / First Served

Be Sure to Bring

When To Go

Spring, Early Summer, Fall – Summer temperatures at Horseshoe Campground will exceed 100 degrees daily.

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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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