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The Tonto National Forest, encompassing 2,873,200 acres (1,162,700 ha; 11,627 km2), is the largest of the six national forests in Arizona and is the fifth largest national forest in the United States.[1] The Tonto National Forest has diverse scenery, with elevations ranging from 1,400 feet (427 m) in the Sonoran Desert to 7,400 feet (2,256 m) in the ponderosa pine forests of the Mogollon Rim (pronounced MOH-gee-on, or MUH-gee-own). The Tonto National Forest is also the most visited "urban" forest in the United States.[2] The boundaries of the Tonto National Forest are the Phoenix metropolitan area to the south, the Mogollon Rim to the north and the San Carlos and Fort Apache Indian Reservation to the east. The Tonto (Spanish for "fool") is managed by the USDA Forest Service and its headquarters are in Phoenix. There are local ranger district offices in Globe, Mesa, Payson, Roosevelt, Scottsdale, and Young.[3]

Tonto National Forest
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
Amer0013 - Flickr - NOAA Photo Library.jpg
Map showing the location of Tonto National Forest
Map showing the location of Tonto National Forest
Location Gila, Maricopa, Yavapai, and Pinal counties, Arizona, USA
Nearest city Payson, Arizona
Coordinates 33°50′40″N 111°17′04″W / 33.8443241°N 111.2845025°W / 33.8443241; -111.2845025Coordinates: 33°50′40″N 111°17′04″W / 33.8443241°N 111.2845025°W / 33.8443241; -111.2845025
Area 2,873,200 acres (11,627 km2)
Established 1905
Visitors 5,922,000 (in 2005)
Governing body United States Forest Service
Website Tonto National Forest
A pool of water, a remnant of the last rains, in a dry wash in Tonto National Forest
Unofficial trail sign in Pine Canyon



Tonto PassEdit

Tonto National Forest began charging user fees in 1996 for daily and overnight stays at expanded amenity recreation sites in the national forest. Five different passes are currently offered for sale:

  • Daily Pass
  • Watercraft Sticker
  • Half Price Daily Pass
  • Half Price Watercraft Sticker
  • Interagency Pass and Tonto Upgrade Decal

The Half Price passes are for use by Golden Age/Access Passport or Interagency Senior/Access Pass Holders. The Tonto Upgrade must be used in addition to an Interagency Pass for use of the recreation sites.

Tonto Passes are available through online vendors at the Tonto National Forest recreation passes and permits web page. Daily and Half Price Daily Tonto Passes are now available for purchase online, immediate printing at home and use at the Tonto National Forest. Passes are also available through many local merchants.[1]

Lakes, rivers and streamsEdit

The Tonto National Forest has six notable cold water reservoirs:

The next four are created by the Salt River chain of dams:

Wilderness areasEdit

There are eight federally designated wilderness areas within (or partially within) the Tonto National Forest:[4]

A portion of the Verde Wild and Scenic River also lies within the forest.


The Tonto Forest Reserve was established on October 3, 1905 by the General Land Office. In 1906 the forest reserves were transferred to the U.S. Forest Service, and on March 4, 1907 Tonto became a National Forest. On January 13, 1908 the Pinal Mountains National Forest was added along with other lands. On July 1, 1908 part of Black Mesa National Forest and other lands were added, and on July 1, 1953 part of Crook National Forest was added.[5]

Proposed land transfer to Rio Tinto Group for copper miningEdit

A land swap proposed as a part of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act would permit a subsidiary of the Rio Tinto mining conglomerate, Resolution Copper Co., to acquire 2,400 acres of the Tonto National Forest, considered sacred for the San Carlos Apache Tribe, for purposes of copper mining. This proposal, in Section 3003, titled "Southeast Arizona Land Exchange", is strongly opposed by many Native Americans, including the 57 member tribes of The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, and by the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Tonto National Forest". U.S. Forest Service, Tonto National Forest. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "Tonto National Forest – History and Development". United States Forest Service. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  3. ^ USFS Ranger Districts by State
  4. ^ "Wilderness maps". Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  5. ^ Davis, Richard C. (September 29, 2005). "National Forests of the United States" (PDF). The Forest History Society. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 9, 2014. 
  6. ^ Toensing, Gale Courey (2014-12-12). "57 Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Urge Senate to Nix Sacred Land Giveaway". Indian Country Today Media Network. Retrieved 2014-12-16. 

External linksEdit