Ocotillo Recreation Site in Tonto National forest is a dispersed camping area on the varying shores of Horseshoe Lake north of Phoenix. While Ocotillo Recreation Site is technically located on the shores of Horseshoe Lake, it often is unusable for boating due to the lack of water in the lake. When there is water in Horseshoe Lake there is a primitive boat ramp available at Ocotillo. Scenic mountain and desert views surround Ocotillo and Horseshoe Lake.

Ocotillo Recreation Site campground has no facilities available to it other than a couple of Vault Toilets. The Marina at nearby Bartlett Lake offers the closest camping supplies. Access to the campground is via a rough dirt road.

Ocotillo Recreation Site Campground Features

Campground Type: Dispersed, Semi-Primitive
Number of Campsites: Not Specified
Cost: $9/day via Required Tonto Pass
Use Level: Very 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 – When there is water in Horseshoe Lake
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: 33.986642, -111.722005
Nearest City: Carefree, Arizona
Elevation: 1980 Feet
Location: Phoenix Area – Maricopa County, Arizona
Paved Road Access: None
Proximity to Stores: 20 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 11 miles to Ocotillo Recreation Site 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 Ocotillo Recreation Site 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 Ocotillo Recreation Site 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 NextCampsite.com, Justin also runs and writes for the technology infrastructure-focused blog OddJobsInTech.com, and the mobile device-focused blog EnterpriseMobileDevice.com.


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