Woods Canyon Lake and the surrounding area is the most popular camping area in the entire state. Virtually every amenity is either available on site or within a few miles. Aspen Campground is set just 1/2 mile south of the lake and has 136 campsites which are all nicely spaced, you won’t feel too crowded, even for such a large campground. Most of the campsites are available for reservation (click the RESERVE A CAMPSITE icon above) and 27 campsites are first come first served campsites. The campground is well shaded by Ponderosa pine, oak, aspen and Douglas firs. Bring your bikes for a nice ride through the campground and maybe you will see some elk in the area. Some of the popularity of this campground is it’s proximity to Phoenix, approximately a 2.5 hour drive. This campground fills quickly on summer weekends and sometimes will fill by Thursday afternoon on holiday weekends. If you don’t make reservations, plan on arriving around 11 am on the day you plan to camp to grab any first come first served campsites that might be vacated that morning. You can get lucky and grab a spot on Saturdays if you get there at the right time. Need a campsite when everything is full? Check out our article about How to find a campsite on a busy holiday weekend. If this campground is full, try checking out Mogollon or Rim Campgrounds located just a mile or two away on FR300. There could also be some spaces available at Crook Campground just down the road.
One nice thing about Aspen if that there is an occupancy chart at the host/check-in station and will let you know what if any of the area campgrounds are full or not.
Located at the lake is a country store complete with boat rentals. The store pretty much has everything you might need for a great camping trip. You can buy a fishing license, bait, camping supplies like tarps, tents, propane and pretty much any food item you will need. A phone is available at the front door of the store. If you have your own boat, you can ask them to charge your battery overnight for a small fee if they have room to charge it. If your battery is running low, they will rent you one at the country store.
There is a great boat ramp at the lake and several parking spaced reserved for vehicles pulling boat trailers (see the map). Don’t be that guy who just parks his car in one of the boat trailer parking spaces.
Just around the corner from the store is the Rocky Point day use area. There is a charge to use the parking area but it is minimal ($5.00 I think). There is good fishing down by Rocky Point and I tend to spend at least one afternoon there every visit.
Bald eagles have been nesting down towards the end of the Rocky Point day use area in the past few years and is occasionally roped off so the only way into the area is by boat. Please don’t go on shore near the Bald Eagle Nests near Rocky Point when it is roped off.
Ospreys have also been in the area the past few years and are a blast to watch fish. See slide show below for an Osprey leaving the lake with dinner in it’s claws
Don’t forget your long lens on your camera to get a great shot of the raptors making a spectaular catch on the lake.
- Elevation – 7620′
- Season – May to October weather depending
- Stay Limit – 14 days
- Fees – Yes
- Campsites 136
- Trailer Limit – 45′
- GPS Location
- Access – Paved
- Potable Water – Yes
- RV Waste Disposal – Nearby (see map)
- Restroom Type – Vault
- Nearest showers – Canyon Point Campground
- Tables, grills and fire rings
- Utility hookups – No
- Black Mesa Ranger District – 928-535-7300
- Firewood – Available from camp host
- Fishing Supplies – General Store at Woods Canyon Lake
- Visitor Center at SR 260 and FR 300 (top of the rim)
- Nearest Gas -Forest Lakes
Fishing Information – Provided by the Arizona Game and Fish Department
If fishing for trout, try power bait from the shore, try power bait or worms. Boaters can try trolling Super Duper or tiny gold Kastmaster lures. When it is hot during the summer, fish a little deeper, but not too deep, between 10 to 20 feet because the lake stratifies in the summer, meaning there is no oxygen at the bottom. The lake is loaded with crayfish, try fishing for big browns int he spring and fall with spinners or lures that imitate crayfish patterns. Lake depth averages 25 feet and can reach up to 40 feet.
Statewide fishing regulations apply and a trout stamp is required. The daily bag limit is six trout, three for unlicensed anglers under the age of 14.
Cow bells or bumble bee’s can also bring good results.
Electric boat motors only at Woods Canyon Lake
I fly fish the lake and notice that many fly fisherman tend to use sinking line with a bead head wolly bugger in olive or black. I have good luck when the shade hits the shores to the left of the boat dock down the left arm of the lake down along rocky point day use area with small dry flies like a parachute adams or any type of caddis.