Forest Service Campgrounds
The Prescott National Forest (928/771-4700, www.fs.fed.us/r3/prescott) offers dispersed campsites in the Prescott Basin area near town. Each site has a marker, fire ring, and place to camp, but no water, toilets, or fees. Pick up a map from the Forest Service, Prescott Chamber of Commerce, or the website for locations. These are the only places within the Prescott Basin boundary that are open to dispersed camping.
White Spar Campground (2.5 miles south of downtown on AZ 89, $10) has drinking water but no showers or hookups; one loop stays open in winter, when water may or may not be available. Lower Wolf Creek Campground (9 miles south of town, $6) is open mid-May-mid-Nov. but lacks water; go south 7.5 miles on Senator Highway/Forest Road 52, then turn west one mile on Forest Road 97. Or head south four miles on AZ 89 from Prescott, then turn east five miles on Forest Road 97. Groups can reserve Upper Wolf Creek Campground at 877/444-6777 or www.recreation.gov.
You and your horse can stay at Groom Creek Horsecamp (6.5 miles south from town on Senator Highway/Forest Road 52), which offers family sites ($10) and a group reservation area (Bradshaw Ranger District, 928/443-8000) with water May 1-Oct. 31. Nearby, the popular Groom Creek Loop Trail #307 makes an 8.7-mile loop through ponderosa pine forests to Spruce Mountain.
Southeast of Prescott, Lynx Lake and nearby Hilltop Campgrounds sit above a pretty lake containing trout and catfish. Lynx sites are open April 1-Nov. 15; Hilltop is open May 1-Sept. 30; both have drinking water and a $10 fee. Picnickers may use tables at a vista point on the north end of the lake and near the boat ramp at the south end for $2. To reach Lynx Lake, head east four miles on AZ 69 from town, then turn south 2.5 miles on Walker Road/Lynx Lake Road; Hilltop Campground is one mile farther. Lynx Lake Store (928/778-0720, closed Mon.) rents rowboats, paddleboats, and canoes at the north end of the lake.
Yavapai Campground (northwest of town near the base of Granite Mountain, $10) stays open all year with water; from W. Gurley Street, turn northwest and drive 4.3 miles on Grove Avenue, Miller Valley Road, and Iron Springs Road, then turn north and proceed 3.5 miles on Forest Road 374. Groups can reserve Granite Group Camp at 877/444-6777 or www.recreation.gov.
In ponderosa pines near the village of Cherry, Powell Springs Campground (free) stays open all year; there's usually spring water, but it's safest to bring your own. From the turnoff on AZ 169 (25 miles east of Prescott and 5.5 miles west of I-17 Exit 278), turn north 4.5 miles on Forest Road 372/Cherry Road; see a highway or forest map. Forest Road 372 is a winding gravel road with good scenery, especially where it winds high above the canyon south of Cherry. You can also drive in from the Verde Valley; take I-17 Exit 287, go northwest 2.8 miles on AZ 260, then turn left (south) and drive 12.6 miles on Cherry Road.
Watson Lake Park (4 miles north of town on AZ 89, 928/771-5841, $10 tents or RVs) overlooks the picturesque Granite Dells, but the campground is open only Fri.-Sat. nights from Memorial Day to Labor Day; showers are available to campers. Day use at the park is free, and it's open daily year-round. Just north of Watson Lake Park, only RVers can stay at Point of Rocks RV Campground (3025 N. Hwy. 89, 928/445-9018, $20 RV w/hookups); it's open all year with showers, laundry, and a tiny store. Willow Lake RV and Camping Resort (5 miles north of town off Willow Creek Rd., 928/445-6311 or 800/940-2845, $14 tent, $20 RV w/hookups) features a swimming pool, fishing, store, and showers within walking distance of Willow Lake.
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