Bear Canyon Lake A Tapestry of Natural Beauty Surrounding

Bear Canyon Lake

Bear Canyon Lake: Nestled within the embrace of a slender canyon, a captivating sight awaits Bear Canyon Lake. Despite its location down a dirt road, removed by several miles and offering minimal amenities, its allure is irresistible, attracting a multitude of visitors. The partially developed campground, nestled amidst a tapestry of mixed conifer, oak, and aspen, offers only modest conveniences.

Perched at a lofty elevation of 7,600 feet, the journey to Bear Canyon Lake is graced with a scenic drive along Rim Road, punctuated by numerous lookout points that unveil breathtaking vistas.

Bear Canyon Lake exudes an aura of remote tranquility, with its camping area characterized by an undeveloped, primitive nature. However, this rustic quality contributes to its quiet, unspoiled charm.

A Tapestry of Natural Beauty Surrounding Bear Canyon Lake

The environs of Bear Canyon Lake and its camping area are enveloped by the embrace of aspen trees, towering pines, and majestic blue spruce that seamlessly blend with the lake’s edges. This idyllic setting provides the perfect haven for unwinding, where nature’s beauty takes center stage.

Bear Canyon Lake is a hidden gem nestled within a stunning, narrow canyon, offering a tranquil escape for those willing to embark on a scenic foot trail adventure. This picturesque lake is part of a series of fishing havens thoughtfully created by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, despite its remote location down a winding dirt road and minimal amenities. Despite the rustic charm, Bear Canyon Lake continues to beckon numerous visitors seeking an untouched natural experience.

The campground, partially developed and harmoniously integrated into the surrounding mixed conifer, oak, and aspen forest, provides a rustic camping experience with limited facilities. It’s important to note that Bear Canyon Lake operates on a “Pack it in – Pack it out” principle—meaning there is no garbage service available. Visitors are encouraged to be responsible stewards of this pristine wilderness, leaving the area even better than they found it.

Bear Canyon Lake is categorized as an ‘undeveloped’ campground for fire restrictions. During times when fire restrictions are imposed on the Apache-Sitgreaves Forest, campfires are not permitted within the vicinity.

Perched at a lofty elevation of 7,560 feet, Bear Canyon Lake spans across 60 acres of surface area, with its depths plunging to a maximum of 50 feet. Thanks to its significant depth, water quality concerns are virtually non-existent, ensuring an ideal habitat for various aquatic life. The Arizona Department of Game and Fish consistently restocks the lake with catchable-sized rainbow trout approximately six times annually, enhancing the fishing experience for enthusiasts.

As with any fishing excursion in Arizona, it’s crucial to adhere to the state’s fishing regulations. For detailed information on licensing requirements, daily bag limits, and other restrictions, consult the current year fishing regulations brochure provided by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Additionally, it’s important to note that only electric motors are permitted for boats on Bear Canyon Lake, preserving the tranquility of this pristine wilderness and ensuring a peaceful escape for all who visit.

Bear Canyon Lake

Nestled within a picturesque, serpentine canyon, Bear Canyon Lake stands as a pristine oasis reachable solely by a scenic footpath. Among the series of angler-friendly lakes meticulously crafted by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Bear Canyon Lake shines as a standout destination. Though it lies a few miles along a dusty track and boasts minimal conveniences, its allure captivates numerous visitors seeking an authentic wilderness experience.

The partially developed campground, nestled amidst a diverse tapestry of coniferous, oak, and aspen trees, offers modest amenities. It’s important to note that Bear Canyon Lake adheres to a “Pack it in – Pack it out” principle, where there is no garbage service. Visitors are encouraged to be respectful stewards of the land, striving to leave the area even better than they found it.

Under the realm of fire restrictions, this campground is classified as an ‘undeveloped’ site. As such, campfires are strictly prohibited during fire restriction periods within the Apache-Sitgreaves Forest.

Sitting at an elevation of 7,560 feet, Bear Canyon Lake spans 60 acres on its surface, with its depths plunging to 50 feet. Its substantial depth plays a pivotal role in maintaining exceptional water quality. To enhance the angling experience, the Arizona Department of Game and Fish periodically replenishes the lake with catchable-sized rainbow trout, approximately six times a year.

The fishing regulations of Arizona apply seamlessly within these waters. For comprehensive insights into licensing prerequisites, daily catch limits, and other regulations, enthusiasts can refer to the latest fishing regulations brochure published by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Furthermore, watercraft with motors are restricted exclusively to electric propulsion.

A Quick Overview Bear Canyon Lake

  • Reservations: Campsites are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Area Amenities: The site offers accessibility, tent camping, space for camping trailers, and rustic toilets.
  • Fees: Camping at Bear Canyon Lake incurs no fees.
  • Open Season: The camping season kicks off on April 15th.
  • Usage: The area witnesses a moderate to heavy footfall.
  • Best Season: Fall presents the optimal time to experience the site’s beauty.
  • Busiest Season: Summer draws the highest number of visitors.
  • Restrictions: Given its ‘undeveloped’ status, campfires are off-limits when campfire restrictions are enforced for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.
  • Closest Towns: The nearest fully-equipped communities are Heber Overgaard, AZ, at a distance of 25 miles to the East via Hwy 260, and Payson, AZ, situated 33 miles to the West via Hwy 260.
  • Water: Regrettably, water sources are unavailable onsite.
  • Restroom Facilities: Seasonal vault toilets are provided for camper


Operated By: The Forest Service oversees operations.
Information Center: For inquiries, contact the Black Mesa Ranger District at (928) 535-7300.
Essential Insights:


Bear Canyon Lake is a mere stone’s throw away from its namesake. Travel approximately 14 miles northwest from State Highway 260 along Forest Road 89. Access to Forest Road 89 is facilitated by Forest Road 300, which intersects directly across from the Rim Visitor Information Station. Alternatively, those journeying from Heber, Arizona can reach the site by traveling 25 miles westward.

Additional Details:

  • The environment exudes rustic charm, immersing visitors in an authentic natural ambiance.
  • Personal water provisions are imperative for the stay.
  • Amenities such as gas, phone services, and groceries can be found 20 miles eastward at Forest Lakes.
  • Upholding the ‘Pack it in Pack it out’ ethos is paramount to keeping the area pristine for successive occupants.
  • Campsites boast a semi-primitive or rustic character, fostering a genuine outdoor encounter.
  • Lake access via trails offers a closer communion with nature’s wonders.
  • Rustic toilet facilities complement the camping experience.

Camping Trailers: Permissible
Tent Camping: Welcomed
Toilets: Rustic in nature
Accessibility: Limited access

In the embrace of Bear Canyon Lake and its camping enclave, the call of untamed nature beckons. Amidst its untamed splendor, this refuge celebrates the harmony between humanity and the great outdoors.

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