Arizona

Campsite Guide: White Horse Lake Campground, Arizona

by DT Christensen

white horse lake campground

White Horse Lake Campground in Arizona offers quiet camping, hiking, and paddling just south of Williams in Kaibab National Forest – here’s why it’s one of our favorite camping spots

Arizona’s most well-known clusters of lakes might be those on the Mogollon Rim or Salt River, but the area around Williams is home to often-underrated lake camping throughout the summer.

Kaibab Lake, Dogtown Lake, and White Horse Lake each have established campgrounds open from May to September, and each offers quiet repose from the heat of central Arizona. White Horse Lake is the southernmost of the three and if you’re up for a drive down miles of washboard dirt roads, it’s a great place to camp and explore.

At a Glance

Season May to September
Sites 94
Campsite Types Tents, RVs
Reservations Recreation.gov
Fees $26+ per night
RV Hookups No
Max RV Length 38 feet
Elevation 6,600 feet
Directions Google Maps

Campground Overview

White Horse Lake is about 19 miles southeast of Williams and just west of Sycamore Canyon Wilderness.  It’s part of Kaibab National Forest’s Williams District, an area of more than 560,000 acres of beautiful pine forest.

The campground contains 94 campsites in six loops on the western side of the lake. All have the same amenities and 22 are considered fully wheelchair accessible.

Loops A and B on the southwestern side of the lake offer great water views and easy access to the shoreline. Loops C and D on the lake’s north side are still close to the water, and Loop E is the furthest from the lake but offers spacious sites and several double sites for larger groups.

No matter where you camp, you’ll be just a short walk to the lake and its trails. You can’t beat the lakeside views from Loop A, but the further-set Loop E has excellent scenery and sites within a few minutes of shore.

Loop F is a large group site that can accommodate up to 60 campers.

white horse lake campground map

In the map above, Loop A is on the bottom Loop B is above it, Loop C is in the middle (by the lone “7”,) Loop D is to the right of that (by the lone “12”,) and Loop E is the top one. Loop F is the area that says “Wgroup.”

Each campsite includes a table, campfire ring, grill, and designated tent area. Space and shade vary by campsite, and you can search the campground’s map to find sites with more room to stretch or spots closer to the water.

white horse lake campsite

Sites fill up fast in the peak summer months, but you can usually snag a last-minute site in September.

Reservations

Depending on the season, you may need to make reservations in advance. During peak season (early May–late Sep.) reservations must be made in advance online on Recreation.gov. Reservations open six months in advance for individual sites and 12 months in advance for group sites. In the first week of May and last week of September, reservations are first-come, first-served. If you click on the date on the reservations page, you’ll be able to see the exact date on which the reservation system starts for the given year.

Weather

williams az weather
Source: Weather.com

The campground opens in May, when temperatures in Williams usually range from the 40s to 70s. Temperatures in July and August rise considerably, with many summer days in the 80s and 90s.

Fortunately, Arizona’s Monsoon Season in July and August can also bring extremely heavy rain showers that ease the heat on sweltering afternoons.

CURRENT WILLIAMS WEATHER

If you’re escaping Phoenix, even the hottest days at White Horse Lake aren’t unbearable. Many of the sites are sufficiently shaded, mornings and nights are cool, and afternoon showers rolling over the area are part of the appeal of summer in Northern Arizona.

Amenities & Facilities

Each loop includes basic amenities like vault toilets, water faucets, and trash bins. There’s a small paved boat ramp between loops C and D for putting in canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. There are no RV hookups, though there is a dump station at the campground’s entrance.

rv camping white horse lake

On the lake’s west side, a food vendor slings drinks and summer staples like hot dogs and hamburgers. There are two campground hosts and overall, the campground and its facilities are clean and well managed. Even during busy summer weekends the bathrooms, trails and grounds are typically free of trash.

Recreation

The main recreation at White Horse Lake is chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool – which can take many forms

Hammocking, for instance.

white horse lake camping

The lake is best known for hiking, boating, fishing, biking, and wildlife viewing. Rock climbing is popular in Sycamore Canyon just north of the lake, and there are endless off-roading routes in the area.

Hiking

White Horse Lake Trail wraps the eastern half of the lake and connects to a trail leading to a Sycamore Canyon overlook. The lakeside trail is mellow and kid-friendly and includes plenty of offshoots for exploring.

hiking white horse lake

Some stretches of the trail are out in the open while others are shaded and loaded with spots to take a lakeside break.

white horse lake trail #33

For a more challenging hike, check out Sycamore Rim Trail north of the lake. It’s an 11-mile loop that hugs the north rim of Sycamore Canyon with several access points along the trail for shorter hikes.

One access point is near Sycamore Canyon Falls, a popular spot for rock climbing. If you’re lucky, you can catch the falls running after a summer storm.

For more hiking options in the region, check out some of our favorite Flagstaff hikes.

Boating

White Horse Lake is open to paddlers and small boats with electric motors of one horsepower or less. You can rent kayaks and paddleboards or put boats in at the paved boat ramp on the north side of the lake. Swimming isn’t permitted at the lake.

Fishing

White Horse Lake offers brown and rainbow trout, catfish, and bass. If you’re fishing from shore, consider walking further from camp along the shore to escape the crowds. And if you left home without a fishing license, you can pick one up from the camp host.

fishing white horse lake

Nearby Attractions

White Horse Lake Campground is about 75 miles from the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, a doable day trip if you plan things right (here’s how to avoid the South Rim’s crowds).

Flagstaff is about an hour away, but if you’re hanging out in Williams, check out Bearizona, a drive-through wildlife park just east of town. If you’re more into trains than animals, swing by the Grand Canyon Railway depot downtown, from which trains have embarked for the Grand Canyon daily since 1901.

Know Before You Go

  • Forest Roads 110 and 109 can be slow-going, especially in an RV or with a trailer.
  • Williams is only 19 miles away, but the dirt roads out to the lake can stretch the drive up to an hour, so it’s worth stocking up in town before you head out.
  • In July and August, passing monsoon storms can roll through in a hurry, so be prepared for rain even if it’s not in the forecast.
  • Loops A and B offer the best lakeside camping spots, but the other loops are still within walking distance of the lake.
  • For camping options closer to Williams, check out Dogtown Lake or Kaibab Lake.
  • If you’re visiting from Phoenix, I-17 is the quickest way to go, but the drive through Prescott Valley and Chino Valley is a more mellow alternative route that winds through small towns and passes by picturesque landscapes.

Getting There

To get to White Horse Lake Campground from Williams, take 4th Street (S. Perkinsville Road/County Road 73) south and turn left onto Forest Road 110. After about seven miles, turn left onto FR 109 and follow it to the campground. You can also get there from Flagstaff by taking Parks Road (exit 178) south from I-40.

Latitude and longitude: 35° 6′ 55.0001″ N 112° 1′ 1.9999″ W
Phone number: (928) 699-1239

Explore Arizona!

Sign up for our free email to join 50,000+ readers getting epic travel, hiking, camping and gear ideas every month.


Seen in: Arizona, Arizona Camping, Camping

Build your bucket list

Join 80,000+ adventurers getting epic travel, camping and hiking ideas every week.

Related posts

enamel camping mugs

11 Best Enamel Mugs for Camping & Backpacking

Anyone who’s broken a mug while camping or hiking can appreciate the value of an enamel camp mug. If you treat it as an investment and buy the right one, a good enamel mug can serve your drinks by the campfire for decades.

Gear