Arizona: A day trip to Bartlett Lake

After a beautifully relaxing day in our RV on Saturday, we decided we needed a short day trip somewhere close to the Phoenix metro area. Of all the places we considered, Bartlett Lake won out because it had been a couple of years since our last visit.

Bartlett Lake is part of the Tonto National Forest, which requires a separate daily pass for $8. We have a habit of carrying spare passes – you cross out the day/month/time/year when you use it – so we packed up and drove to just past Carefree, AZ.

I had heard there were mexican poppies blooming, so we looked for those first, once we reached the lake area. It’s a 14 mile drive down Bartlett Dam Rd from Cave Creek Rd, but there were limited sightings along the way.

We found success taking Forest Road 459 down about a mile and a half.

And amazing views, as well!

We drove down to the Yellow Cliffs area, which has a boat launch area and dispersed camping. While I would not take our Class A RV to dry camp there, we saw several fifth wheels, Class Cs, and a couple of Class Bs. The road to the best camping is very rough and windy – if you do take an RV down there, make sure everything is secure.

From this area, this is how the lake looks. Pretty impressive when clouds break up the blue skies.

Bartlett Lake at the Yellow Cliffs area


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