Yellow Cliffs Campground

Yellow Cliffs Campground Bartlett Lake – Tonto National Forest

Yellow Cliffs Campground Review Summary

Campground Amenities
Campground Cleanliness
Campsite Privacy
Campground Scenery
Family Friendliness


Yellow Cliffs Campground Bartlett Lake – Tonto National Forest Review by on . Yellow Cliffs Recreation Area is a dispersed campground at Bartlett Lake in Tonto National Forest offering lakeside camping. Rating: 3

Yellow Cliffs Campground, a dispersed campground at Bartlett Lake in Tonto National Forest with lakeside camping and access to boating and other activities. Located on the Verde River, Bartlett Lake, like most lakes in Arizona is a man-made reservoir. While the reservoir stores water for the Greater Phoenix area it also provides some great camping and recreation opportunities.

Yellow Cliffs Campground does not offer much in the way of amenities, but it does have a great view and direct lake access including a nearby boat ramp. Yellow Cliffs Campground does not have a designated number of campsites and the amount of space available for camping will vary with the level of the lake.

Yellow Cliffs Campground Bottom Line

Bartlett Lake is an oasis in the desert that can easily be accessed via short drive from the Phoenix area. However, this easy access leads to heavy use during the early summer and fall and as such the campgrounds, including Yellow Cliffs Campground, can get littered with trash and debris, despite the Forest Service’s best efforts to keep it clean. So if you go to Yellow Cliffs Campground, do your part and keep it clean, in fact you should leave it cleaner than when you got there.

While the nearby boat ramp at Yellow Cliffs Campground is great for launching your boat, it can be unusable during droughts due to the low water level in the lake, requiring you to launch boats from shore. At the same time the lower lake levels provide a larger area for campsites, and more space between you and other campers. The best campsites at Yellow Cliffs Campground tend to be right against the lake shore, but they can be hard to get unless you arrive early on peak weekends to claim your campsite.

Yellow Cliffs Campground Features

Campground Type: Dispersed, Primative
Number of Campsites: Not Specified
Cost: $6/day via Required Tonto Pass
Use Level: High
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Fire Rings: No
Drinking Water: No
Toilets: Yes – Vault Toilets and Port-a-potties
Showers: No
Trash/Dumpsters: Yes
Hiking Access: No
Beach/Lake Access: Yes
RV/Trailer Length: Not Specified
RV/Trailer Amenities: None
Cell Phone Service: Limited on all carriers
Wifi: None
Operating Season: Open All Year

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: 33.873787, –111.615729
Nearest City: Cave Creek, Arizona
Elevation: 1780’
Location: Phoenix Area – Maricopa County, Arizona
Paved Road Access: Partial – Recreation Area roads unpaved
Proximity to Stores: Approximately 4 miles at Bartlett Marina
Directions: This site is 24 miles east of Carefree. Take Cave Creek Road 7 miles turn right on Bartlett Dam Road and turn left on FR 459. Continue on FR 459 for 3 miles then turn right to Yellow Cliffs 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 Yellow Cliffs Campground are Bartlett Lake Marina or the Cave Creek Ranger District office.


Phone: (480) 595-3300 – Cave Creek Ranger District Facebook: Bartlett Lake Facebook Page
Web: Tonto National Forest Twitter:
Reservations: Not Accepted

When To Go

Spring, Early Summer, Fall – Summer temperatures at Yellow Cliffs Campground will exceed 100 degrees daily

Partly Cloudy
Friday 07/29 20%
High 105° / Low 81°
Partly Cloudy
Partly cloudy skies. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High near 105F. Winds SW at 10 to 20 mph.
Saturday 07/30 20%
High 98° / Low 77°
Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. A stray afternoon thunderstorm is possible. High 98F. Winds WSW at 10 to 20 mph.
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Sunday 07/31 40%
High 91° / Low 77°
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Partly to mostly cloudy with scattered showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. High 91F. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Monday 08/01 50%
High 88° / Low 77°
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Variable clouds with scattered thunderstorms. High 88F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Tuesday 08/02 60%
High 85° / Low 77°
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Scattered thunderstorms. High near 85F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Wednesday 08/03 60%
High 88° / Low 77°
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Scattered thunderstorms in the morning, then cloudy skies late. High 88F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.

Yellow Cliffs Campground Pictures

Image Credits: Justin Wilson

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