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The Big Lake AZ Road Trip Guide

The Big Lake AZ Road Trip Guide

If immersing yourself in the great outdoors sounds good, then Big Lake Recreational Area is for you. Fishing, hiking, and water sports are big winners in the area.

And, even though Arizona isn’t well known for its many lakes, Big Lake is a great water destination.

Let’s explore! 

What is Big Lake (and Its History)

Big Lake is the perfect break from the Arizona heat. In fact, July will usually find you at an ideal 75 degrees. The area is a part of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and the park is an impressive 575-acres sitting at 9000 feet in elevation.

The area is often not accessible from December to April due to heavy snow. Whereas facilities open for the season in mid-April and continue through mid-November.

The Best Way to Get There

If you’re driving to Big Lake from Springerville (25 miles to the north), you’ll travel west five miles to the Big Lake turnoff (AZ-261). Then, travel up the mountain 18 miles to FR-113 and make a left.

After that, continue two miles to the entrance (FR-115) and turn right. Finally, drive around the lake and take the first paved road to the right.

How Deep is Big Lake?

Big Lake has an average depth of 16 feet. 

How’s the Fishing?

The fishing at Big Lake is a big draw. Arizona Fish and Game stocks 40,000 fingerling trout each year. In fact, Rainbow, Cutthroat, and Brook trout are all popular catches. You’ll have the most luck fishing from a boat as opposed to the shore.

Fishers over 13 must have a license with a trout stamp. Accordingly, a daily limit of six trout for each licensed adult and three for each unlicensed child 13 and younger is enforced.

Looking for more lakes in Arizona? Check out the 7 best lakes in Arizona (and awesome nearby campsites).

Big Lake Nature Trail

Big Lake Nature Trail is a simple .4 mile trail that families can easily hike. Furthermore, educational trail markers dot the way, making this an excellent trek for kids. The trail begins and ends at the visitor center. Since there’s little, if any, elevation change, it’s good for all skill levels.

Best Nearby Campsites

Grayling Campground

Address: Big Lake Rd, Springerville, AZ 85901 

Coordinates: Latitude 33° 52′ 23.0002″ N Longitude 109° 24′ 47.0002″ W

About the Campground: Grayling Campground has 23 non-electric sites open from mid-April to mid-May on a first-come, first-served basis. On the other hand, reservable camping is available from mid-May to mid-August. In addition, there are showers and a dump station 1 mile from the campground.

Grayling Campground is nestled amongst the trees and adjacent to the water. Therefore, this campground is considered one of the more secluded and peaceful of the nine campgrounds located within the Recreational Area. Campers will certainly enjoy fishing and hiking at this location.

Price: $20/night

Apache Trout Campground

Address: Big Lake Rd, Greer, AZ 85927

Coordinates: Latitude 33° 52′ 8.1599″ N Longitude 109° 25′ 0.0001″ W

About the Campground: Apache Trout Campground is the only campground in the Big Lake Recreation Area with electricity at the sites. As previously mentioned for Grayling Campground, sites are first-come, first-served from Mid-April to mid-May. And reservable camping is available from mid-May to mid-August.

This campground is just a short walk from the water. What’s more, site sizes include individual, double, and group. In addition, you can choose between full hookup sites and non-electric sites. Campers will certainly enjoy wildlife viewing and hiking at this location.

Price: $42/night for full hookups and $26/night for non-electric.

Know Before You Go: Bears are known to frequent the Big Lake area. Check the Forest Service’s alerts and warnings before you head out.

Escape to Big Lake

Whether you’re looking for full hookup sites or keeping it primitive, you’ll love camping at Big Lake. Either camping or not, you can experience nature up close by fishing one of Arizona’s best lakes. And Big Lake is perfect for escaping the high summer heat of the low desert.

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site! 

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