Camping at Coon Bluff along the Salt River is within the Tonto National Forest and a great local option for Phoenix families! The campsite is located just outside of Mesa, Arizona. We were so excited to visit this location, and it proved to more interesting than we anticipated.
Coon Bluff is well known for its Wild Horse population and slight overpopulation of horses. With that said, you are sure to catch a glimpse of wild horses in their natural habitat.
Camping at Coon Bluff is only available on the weekends from October 1 – March 31, and really that is the best time of year to camp in the valley, considering you’re just outside of Mesa, and temperatures can really heat up the rest of the year. Next to the campsite is a sandy walking trail that runs alongside the river – where wild horses can be seen, and seashells can be collected!
Next to the campground from 3-6 pm, the Wild Horse Management Group is currently feeding (as of 2021) the wild horses and allows the public into the feeding area. The feed program was put into motion because of the lack of rain and subsequently lack of foliage to keep the horses healthy and happy. It’s free to view the wild horse feeding, but they do accept tips.
There are bathrooms at the Coon Bluff Campsite and many premade firepits. The campground is located just next to the river, and the trees on site are beautiful too.
Be sure to buy your overnight tickets to camp at Coon Bluff online before arriving or locate a local vendor to save you some money. Buying overnight tickets onsight costs $12, and buying tickets before arrival is $8. Both are reasonable prices for the beautiful experience that Coon Bluff has to offer! Passes and more information can be found here.
There are also several nearby family-friendly hiking options. You can learn more in this blog post covering the best spots to explore along the Salt River!
We enjoyed skipping rocks, exploring the terrain at night, enjoying the beautiful Spring weather, collecting seashells along the river trail, and viewing those beautiful wild animals.
Coon Bluff Campground
Tonto National Forest
Coon Bluff Rd
Fort McDowell, AZ 85264