More formally known as C.C. Cragin Reservoir, Blue Ridge is located on the Mogollon Rim, an elevated region in central Arizona. It's calm, cool waters are an excellent destination for kayaking, canoeing, and other forms of water recreation beyond boating. Additionally, the area has remote mountain biking and hiking trails and secluded camping spots, all of which are ideal for campers who want to ditch the main thoroughfares for a quiet forest road.
Of course, as far away as the reservoir is from large metropolitan areas like Phoenix and Flagstaff, it's not the best for simple day trips. A quick search with Google Maps will show you how isolated the body of water is. The closest city with your usual trappings like Starbucks and Walmart is Payson, which is still about an hour's drive away. There's also the city of Happy Jack, but its amenities and services are limited.
Just so, if you're going to visit Blue Ridge Reservoir, you should count on staying at one of the nearby camp spots. Below you'll find more information about camping around the Blue Ridge Reservoir area.
Camping Around Blue Ridge Reservoir
The campgrounds closest to Blue Ridge Reservoir are part of the Coconino National Forest and are maintained by the U.S. Forest Service. They all have features like picnic tables, fire rings, cooking grills, and vault toilets.
- Rock Crossing Campground: This campsite is the closest to the reservoir at 2.5 miles. It allows some reservations and camping trailers. Single sites cost $16 and host up to 8 people, while double sites cost $32 and hold 16 people.
- Blue Ridge Campground: At 5 miles away, this site is intended for tent campers and operates on a first-come, first-serve basis. While it doesn't have group campgrounds, it does have the amenities mentioned above and drinking water. The price is $16 a night for 8-person sites.
- Moqui Group Campground: This campsite is for groups upward of 50 people, costs $85 a night, and is located a stone's throw from the Blue Ridge Campground. Campers must make reservations by phone or through the recreation.gov website.
- Other Campgrounds: These include sites that are in the area but further from the reservoir, like Clints Well, Long Valley Work Center, and the Elks Picnic Area and Campground.
Finally, dispersed camping and boondocking are always an option when it comes to camping on federal lands. However, certain rules and restrictions apply, particularly when setting camp near developed recreation areas. To learn more and double-check the regulations for your destination, visit the Forest Service's website at fs.usda.gov.
Private and State Campgrounds
While there are private and state campgrounds and cabins all over the Mogollon Rim region, most are pretty far from Blue Ridge Reservoir. Unless you're looking for an RV park or a place to stay with full RV hookups, we suggest sticking to the Forest Service sites above. There are also Airbnb's available throughout the area.
Boating (Or Kayaking!) Blue Ridge Reservoir
Due to its steep banks, boating and fishing are the most popular options for enjoying this canyon lake. Fortunately, the reservoir has a boat ramp with a 5-minute maximum boat launch window for towing vehicles. Boats are limited to single electric motors or gas engines that run at no more than 10 horsepower. Kayaking is allowed, but you may need to rent a kayak in town and haul it to the reservoir.
Where fishing is concerned, although the reservoir is located in a national forest, laws set forth by the Arizona Game and Fish Department still apply.
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