Nestled in the serene landscapes of Arizona, Bartlett Lake emerges as a captivating destination for camping enthusiasts and nature lovers. This article delves into the multifaceted allure of Bartlett Lake, exploring its rich history, geographic charm, and the plethora of activities it offers.

Bartlett Lake Camping Map

Bartlett Lake Camping map
Bartlett Lake Camping Map

Bartlett Lake Camping Fees

Site(s)Fee TypeFees
Many sites are listed above except developed campgrounds (see campground table above).All boat launches, picnic sites, and shoreline access areas where daily and overnight use fees are currently charged.$8.00 per vehicle plus
$4.00 per watercraft
Many sites listed above except developed campgrounds (see campground table above).Discovery Pass$80.00 or $60.00 (for Seniors) per year
Day-use (24 hours from the time of validation)Overnight at 2 sites only (Oct 1 – Mar 31)$8.00 per vehicle
Larry Forbis Group SiteGroup-Use
Day -Use Site
$60.00 per unit, per day, plus a $10.00 non-refundable deposit.
Call the Mesa Ranger District for Reservations 
(480) 610-3300.

History of Bartlett Lake: The Formation and Development

Bartlett Lake, a reservoir on the Verde River, was formed in the early 20th century following the construction of the Bartlett Dam in 1939. Named after Bill Bartlett, a government surveyor, the lake was initially created for water storage and flood control. Over the years, it transformed into a hub for recreation and leisure.

Historical Significance

The area surrounding Bartlett Lake has witnessed various historical events, particularly concerning the early Native American communities and later European settlers. These events have shaped the region’s cultural and historical narrative.

Recreational Evolution

From a mere water storage facility, Bartlett Lake has evolved into a popular camping and recreational site, attracting thousands of visitors annually who seek to immerse themselves in its natural beauty and recreational offerings.

Geographic Overview

Location and Accessibility

Situated about 48 miles northeast of Phoenix, Bartlett Lake is easily accessible by road, making it a convenient getaway for city dwellers and tourists.

Physical Features

The lake boasts an impressive surface area of 2,815 acres, with depths reaching up to 174 feet. Surrounded by the Tonto National Forest, it offers a picturesque setting with diverse topography.

Flora and Fauna

The area around Bartlett Lake is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including species like the bald eagle, and is blanketed with a diverse array of plant life, from cacti to wildflowers.

Campsites and Facilities

Types of Campsites

Bartlett Lake offers a range of camping options, including RV sites, tent pitches, and group camping areas, catering to different preferences and needs.


The campsites are well-equipped with facilities such as restrooms, picnic areas, and boat ramps, enhancing the comfort and convenience of visitors.

Reservation and Usage Guidelines

Campsites can be reserved in advance, with guidelines to ensure sustainable and respectful use of the area.

Activities and Attractions

Water-based Activities

Boating, fishing, and swimming are popular activities, with the lake’s clear waters providing an ideal setting for these pastimes.

Hiking and Trails

The surrounding Tonto National Forest offers numerous hiking trails, from easy walks to challenging hikes, each presenting stunning views and wildlife spotting opportunities.

Nearby Attractions

The vicinity of Bartlett Lake is dotted with other attractions, including historical sites and scenic viewpoints, adding to the richness of the experience.

Historical Places Near Bartlett Lake

Local Landmarks

The area around the lake is peppered with historical landmarks that offer a glimpse into the region’s past, from Native American ruins to remnants of early settler life.

Cultural Significance

These sites hold significant cultural value, providing insights into the lives and traditions of the people who once inhabited the area.

Visiting Guidelines

Visitors are encouraged to explore these historical places, remembering the guidelines to preserve their integrity and significance.

Why Visit Bartlett Lake

Natural Beauty

Bartlett Lake’s scenic beauty, characterized by its azure waters and surrounding rugged landscapes, makes it an idyllic camping destination.

Recreational Diversity

The lake’s variety of recreational activities ensures something for everyone, whether it’s a tranquil day of fishing or an adventurous hike.

Accessibility and Family Friendliness

With its proximity to Phoenix and an array of family-friendly activities, Bartlett Lake is an accessible and appealing destination for families and individuals.


With its rich history, stunning geography, and diverse recreational opportunities, Bartlett Lake stands as a testament to Arizona’s natural beauty. It beckons adventurers, families, and nature enthusiasts to explore its depths and enjoy its serene environment, making it an unmissable destination for camping and outdoor activities.

FAQs: Bartlett Lake Camping

Q: What are the camping options available at Bartlett Lake?

A: Bartlett Lake offers diverse camping options, including RV sites, tent camping, and group campsites. These cater to various preferences, from basic tent setups to more equipped RV accommodations.

Q: Can I reserve a campsite at Bartlett Lake in advance?

A: Yes, campsite reservations at Bartlett Lake are possible and recommended, especially during peak seasons. Reservations can typically be made online or via phone.

Q: Are there any hiking trails near Bartlett Lake?

A: Absolutely! The surrounding Tonto National Forest offers numerous hiking trails that range from easy to challenging, providing scenic views and opportunities for wildlife spotting.

Q: What types of water activities can I enjoy at Bartlett Lake?

A: Bartlett Lake is ideal for various water activities, including boating, fishing, swimming, and water skiing. The clear lake waters provide a perfect setting for these recreational activities.

Q: Is there wildlife to see around Bartlett Lake?

A: Yes, the area around Bartlett Lake is rich in wildlife, including species like bald eagles, deer, and various fish. Observing local flora and fauna is an everyday activity for visitors.

Q: Are there any historical sites near Bartlett Lake?

A: The region around Bartlett Lake has several historical sites, including Native American ruins and remnants of early settler communities, offering a glimpse into the area’s past.

Q: What facilities are available at Bartlett Lake campsites?

A: The Bartlett Lake campsites have restrooms, picnic areas, and boat ramps. Some sites may offer additional facilities like grills and fire pits.

Q: How accessible is Bartlett Lake for families and children?

A: Bartlett Lake is family-friendly and easily accessible, with activities and facilities catering to adults and children, making it an ideal destination for family outings.

Q: What is the best time of year to visit Bartlett Lake for camping?

A: The best time to visit Bartlett Lake for camping is typically in the spring and fall when the weather is pleasant, and the natural scenery is most vibrant.

Q: Are there any guidelines for preserving the natural environment at Bartlett Lake?

A: Visitors are encouraged to follow Leave No Trace principles, which include disposing of waste properly, respecting wildlife, and minimizing campfire impacts to preserve the lake’s natural beauty.

Skye Sherman

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