North Central Arizona

Bear Canyon Lake Camping

Camping in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

The Bear Canyon Lake area is beautiful. I first camped here with a group of co-workers and was awestruck by the clarity of the stars at night and the complete change of scenery from the Phoenix Valley and the summer heat. There is something magical about sitting around a campfire with a group of good friends and simply talking. Real talk. Not that kind of talk where you are not listening because you all have your cell phones out, and the city distractions all around. The conversations where you find out things about people you have known for years that you never knew. You form a special bond with friends around a campfire and Bear Canyon Lake is the perfect place to do just that.

Surrounded by towering pines, aspen trees, and the two million acres of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Bear Canyon Lake camping will cure your need for fresh air. With plenty of dispersed camping areas and established campground options nearby, you are sure to find the perfect spot for your family, a group of friends, or yourself while embarking on a solo adventure. The Black Mesa Ranger District alone features over 50 hiking trails. They also have trails for those with horses, options for boating, trout fishing, and more. The lake itself sits at an elevation of 7,560 feet and is accessible via a trail.

See the Official Forest Service Information for Bear Canyon Lake and Camping Area

Camping 101

The first lesson in camping is to be prepared – for anything! A group of friends and myself learned this lesson camping in the Bear Canyon Lake area in mid-May of 2015. The unbelievable happened. It snowed in the middle of May, in the heat of the summer, in Arizona. We underestimated a cold front that was coming in, and instead of what was forecasted as some rain turned into inches and inches of snow that didn’t stop from mid-afternoon through the whole night.

So take my word for it, bring lots of layers, waterproof jackets, proper hiking boots, and a surplus of camping blankets just in case.

Get Directions to Bear Canyon Lake Camping


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