Camping Bear Lake – The Rim Arizona

Bear Lake Forever Sabbatical

Cooler temperatures at Bear Lake on The Rim in Arizona. How much cooler do you ask? We started driving at 11 am in the Phoenix Valley at 109 degrees Fahrenheit and then at 2 pm we reached The Rim. It started to rain and the temperature was 56 degrees Fahrenheit. The rain and temperature felt wonderful.


If you are coming from the Payson area, you will take State Highway 260 to Rim Road (Forest Road 300). The entrance is on the North side of the road. Note that on the South side of the road is The Rim Visitor Information Station. Rim Road (Forest Road 300) is paved for a bit and then goes to dirt. We took Forest Road 84 to be on the East and North side of the lake near the Dam. Many people will go to the West side of the lake, in which you would use Forest Road 89. Check forest maps or call for road closures before you go.

Bear Lake Amenities

Remember your sunblock. I like IceCream Sunscreen

There are no amenities. It is considered an ‘undeveloped’ campground area.

Bring your drinking and cleaning water.

If you are going to have a fire, bring water to put out the fire or bring a bucket to fill up water from the lake. You will need to create your fire ring and be mindful of the dry tertian around you. Make sure the fire is flooded and out when done.

Bring your bathroom and supplies. Do you have a portable toilet? If not, bring your shovel.

There are no trash facilities. Pack it in and pack it out.

There was no T-mobile cell service.

Camp During the Week

Main Bear Lake Forever Sabbatical

We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and the area was filled with large groups (75-100 people) at multiple locations.

Everything is boondocking but there are areas that one can tell have flattened spots for tents.

Due to the number of people, we kept driving north of the lake to find a location away from all the groups.

We still heard music and off-roading vehicle noises all afternoon and into the night. The good news is that everyone quieted down by 10 pm.

Sunday morning there was an accident on the path to the lake that caused emergency vehicles and a helicopter to come in. Therefore we stayed at our campsite in the morning and then went to the lake in the afternoon, once all the emergency vehicles were gone. On our walk to the lake, we noted that all the groups were gone. There was no music and no off-roading vehicles. We could hear the birds singing. It was wonderful.

Monday was also quiet and we saw only 2 groups of 2 people on the lake. When we camp again in this area, we will go Monday through Wednesday.


butterfly Bear Lake Forever Sabbatical

Saturday afternoon we saw and heard a few birds.

Sunday and Monday are when all the animals came out into view. We saw a coyote, a mouse, many squirrels, a chipmunk, butterflies, and a turkey.

On the lake, we viewed many crawdads and fish. Minnows to about 4-inch fish. There were more birds. As we were paddle boarding, a bird flew down to the water and picked up a fish, and then flew. The bird, we think was a bald eagle. It was delightful to see the bird in action fishing. That bird was doing better than the fishermen on the lake.

Bug spray Bear Lake Forever Sabbatical

There were mosquitoes. So bring your bug repellent.

Bear Lake Recreation

There are many recreational activities to do in the area.

We called ahead to the ranger station and asked if metal detecting was allowed. They said yes, for surface only. The area is heavily used and we picked up a lot of trash. However, we found a boot, that made us smile. Many people drop pennies while camping.

Other land activities include hiking. As many well-marked paths go around the lake. On Saturday as mentioned before, there were many off-roading vehicles. They had a parade at night with all their vehicles lit up with colorful lights.

Many water activities. Fishing is one of them. Since it is a fishing lake and if you choose to perform one of the following activities wear your water shoes in case there are fishhooks.

SUP_Towel Bear Lake Forever Sabbatical

Saturday had multiple kayakers paddling around and swimmers playing at the water’s edge. We waited for Sunday afternoon and Monday morning to stand up paddle (SUP) board. Sunday afternoon there was a slight breeze and the water was choppy. However Monday morning the water looked like glass and made for smooth paddling.

Camping Bear Lake – The Rim Arizona

The area has tall trees and a great view of beautiful stars at night. There are camp areas near the lake but you will still need to walk down the hill or the blocked-off (no driving) dirt road.

Contact the ranger station for fire restrictions and any road closures before you go.

Interested in other camping areas near here? Visit our blog about Upper Tonto Creek Campground.

What animals do you like to see when camping?

18 thoughts on “Camping Bear Lake – The Rim Arizona
  1. What an amazing change in temperature. I’m sure you both enjoyed the cooler air. Great escape from Phoenix heat.

  2. Bear Lake, AZ, looks like a wonderful option for getting away from it all. Quiet and remote.

  3. Fun times! The Rim Park looks like a great choice! Let the family fun commence!

  4. Such a beautiful place in the Arizona Rim! I’ve never experienced primitive camping. Glad the crowds left so you could enjoy nature!

  5. Fun! Camping at Bear Lake sounds awesome! Crazy there were so many large groups in the middle of the week.

  6. I can’t believe the temperature difference at Bear Lake! I also can’t believe that it was that crowded in a primitive campsite. I’m used to being one of the only people in areas like that.

  7. Bear Lake on The Rim in Arizona looks like an amazing destination to appreciate nature. Would especially love to paddle or kayak on that lake.

  8. We would love to go camping at Bear Lake. This is a great-looking place, and we will put it on our list.

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