Sheeps Bridge Campground is a free, dispersed campground located on the banks of the Verde River in central Arizona, and is named after foot bridge that was once used by sheep herders in the area. The campground is surrounded by sycamore and cottonwood trees, as well as cactus lined mountains. Sheeps Bridge is a popular off-road destination for Jeep and four-wheel drive clubs. Vehicles that are properly equipped, and have enough ground clearance can cross the Verde River near the bridge and continue down the forest road on the other side to Horseshoe Lake. Sheeps Bridge Campground has no facilities, and is not marked as an official campground, though it is fairly well-known and is listed on Tonto National Forest’s website.
Sheeps Bridge Campground – Bottom Line
Sheeps Bridge Campground is a roughing it experience, as there are no bathrooms and the nearest store is 50 miles away on rough dirt roads. Besides the Upper Verde River, the star attraction of Sheeps Bridge Campground, is the bridge itself, as it is an unexpected find far from civilization, and it is the last bridge of it’s kind in Arizona. There are also supposed to be some developed hot spring soaking tubs near the bridge, but I have never been able to locate them, and suspect they get over grown by the tall river grass that grows on the banks of the river here.
If you are looking for a camping experience that gets you away from other people and is relaxing, Sheeps Bridge Campground is a great destination. However, the dirt forest roads that lead to the campground are not maintained and are pretty rough, as such only head to Sheeps Bridge if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Sheeps Bridge Campground Features
|Number of Campsites:||Not designated|
|Beach/Lake Access:||River Access|
|Cell Phone Service:||None|
|Operating Season:||Campground open year round|
|Nearest City/Town:||Carefree, Arizona|
|Location:||Maricopa County, Arizona|
|Paved Road Access:||No|
|Proximity to Stores:||50 miles to Carefree, Arizona|
|Directions:||Sheeps Bridge Campground is 50 miles north of Carefree.From Carefree, take Cave Creek Road/Forest Road (FR 24) for approximately 33 miles to the Bloody Basin-Tangle Creek area. At this junction of FR 24 and FR 269, turn right. Follow FR 269 for approximately 12 miles to Sheeps Bridge at the Verde River. Both FR 24 and FR 269 are narrow, unpaved roads with blind curves. These forest roads are not maintained, and a high-clearance vehicle is required. When muddy or rainy, four-wheel drive is often required in addition to high ground clearance.|
Maps & Brochures
|Web:||Tonto National Forest||Twitter:|
When To Go
Fall to Spring – Temperatures at Sheeps Bridge Campground can exceed 100 degrees in the summer time, additionally summer monsoon storms can be violent storms that cause the river level to rise rapidly. However, fall, winter, and spring should have moderate daytime temperatures, although winter nighttime temperatures can dip below freezing sometimes.
What To Do
Fishing – Large and Smallmouth Bass, Crappie, Sunfish, and Channel and Flathead Catfish can be found in the Upper Verde River adjacent to Sheeps Bridge Campground
Sheeps Bridge was built as a joint venture between the Flagstaff Sheep Company and Howard Sheep company between 1943 and 1944. The bridge was constructed at a cost of $7,277, to help minimize the loss of sheep when crossing the Verde River during seasonal heard migrations to grazing lands within Tonto National Forest. Sheeps Bridge was originally built using materials from a nearby mine and railroad line, constructed primarily of wood and cables, but later reenforced with concrete. The original Sheeps Bridge was dismantled in the 1980’s due to structural integrity issues, but was later rebuilt using steel and concrete by the forest service.
Sheeps Bridge Photos
Image Credits: Patrick Dockens