Many of the campgrounds within a short drive of Phoenix metro are predominately RV sites with large gravel pads and wide paved roads. For a taste of “real” camping for families and other tenters, Coon Bluff presents a great alternative.
Perched on a bluff above the Salt River in an area popular for tubing the river, Coon Bluff is a primitive recreation area in Tonto National Forest. There are five slightly-developed sites with concrete paths, fire pits and picnic tables, but camping is permitted (or tolerated) anywhere on the bluff where there is a clearing to set up a tent. There are no site numbers.
Swimming holes and rocks to spread out a towel are numerous along the nearby river, and hiking and riding trails are popular. There are wild horses that frequent the area, and these can often be spotted near the campground. Camping is free with a Tonto Pass (available at many convenience stores and outdoor stores in the Phoenix area).
Coon Bluff has very limited camping days available. Overnight camping is allowed October 1 through May 1 on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday nights before the following holidays: Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday (observed), and President's Day (observed). Overnight use will also be allowed on Thanksgiving Day through Saturday night.