Cutthroat Campground – Big Lake Recreation Area

Big Lake from Cutthroat Campground
Big Lake from Cutthroat Campground

reservationsCutthroat is a tent only campground at the Big Lake Recreation Area. In my opinion, it is the best tent only campground in the state. You can drive through the campground, and unload your gear near your campsite, but you need to park in the designated parking areas surrounding the campground or back at the boat ramp. The campground is well shaded by Ponderosa Pines, Spruce and Aspen trees.  Be prepared for cooler nighttime temperatures even during the summer months. Campsites are nicely spaced and several have wonderful views of the lake.

Located just to the east is a country store for most of your needs including boat rentals, ice, food and fishing gear and licenses. For boat rentals call 928-521-1387. Store hours are as follows; weekends: 6:00 am – 6:00 pm, all other days 8:00 am-5:00 pm.  You really can’t miss when you get a campsite at Big Lake. Virtually every amenity is available! Showers and a dump station are located just east of the Rainbow Campground. The Visitor Center is located just before you reach Rainbow Campground and there are often scheduled activities, so check it out when you arrive.

Trout fishing at big lake is almost perfect.  Big trout can be caught here and if you don’t believe me, check out the pictures under the glass at the counter at the general store.  Fish species at Big Lake include rainbow, cutthroat, brook and Apache trout.

Be prepared for very cold nights in the spring and fall and afternoon showers sometimes occur daily.

Here is the link for the Big Lake Tackle and Supply located on the lake for information about boat rentals.


From Springerville travel west 5 miles to the Big Lake turnoff (AZ261). Travel up the mountain 18 miles to FR 113 and turn left. Travel 2 miles to the Big Lake entrance (FR115) and turn right. The campground is 1.5 miles ahead.

From Show Low, Arizona: take Highway 260 east for 42 miles to Highway 273. Take Highway 273 south for 30 miles and the Big Lake Recreation Area will be on the west side.

General Notes

  • Elevation: 9045′
  • Season: Mid May – September
  • Stay Limit: 14 Days
  • Campsites: 18 walk in only, Tent Only
  • Potable Water: yes
  • Showers: near the Rainbow Campground entrance
  • General Store just to the east of the Campground
  • Campsite Grills, Tables and Fire Rings: Yes
  • Information: 928-333-6200
  • Cutthroat is not designed to accommodate trailers or motor homes.
  • Flush Toilets