- Published: Saturday, 02 December 2006 13:00
Fort Tuthill Recreation Area is operated by Luke AFB, yet it's located over 120 miles away near Flagstaff, AZ. Coming from Phoenix, the cooler temperature of the pine top hills was very welcome. Because of the more comfortable weather in summer, this is the busy season at Ft. Tuthill. We took a gamble in late June and arrived without a reservation. Unfortunately, they said they were booked (although we saw many empty in the evening). They assign RV sites based on the size of your rig and didn't have room for our 36 footer. We asked, but were denied permission to dry camp in the large parking lot for the night.
Luckily, there's a large county campground next door, which had plenty of space. Finding the campground is pretty easy. Regardless of which direction you come from, you'll most likely be on I-17. However, SR-89A is another side road possiblility. Take exit 327 and go west. Immediately after getting off I-17, there is a stop sign at SR-89A. Cross the road directly into the Fort Tuthill Coconino County park. You'll follow the road around a circle and make a right, then left into the Luke AFB Recreation area. There's signs pointing the way starting from the SR-89A gate. When arriving, park in the large gravel parking lot on the left and check-in at the lodge/hotel. Reservations are HIGHLY recommended. Reservations can be made from the Ft. Tuthill website, or by phone.
The campground is located off base and located in a heavily pine tree, mountainous area. Although the campground is on the side of a hill, most of the sites are relatively level. Yet you do need to watch out for trees. Not all sites have electric hookups, which is only a 15/20amp circuit. Water spigots are randomly placed around the campground. Many of the RV's had over 150' of hose stretched across other campsites to reach water. None of the sites have a sewer hookup, but a dump station is available. Unfortunately, there's no overflow area. The entire campground has a rustic feel to it. All roads and sites are dirt. Many of the sites have charcoal grills and cut firewood is stacked throughout the campground. But at this time of the year, no charcoal or wood fires are allowed. Only gas grills.
While the campsites are rustic, the rest of the recreation area is very well equipped and organized. There's a variety of lodging available. From a multi-family Aframe cabin, single family Aframe cabins, small cabins, hotel rooms, and Yurts. A Yurt is a round tent sided structure without any plumbing. Yurts do have a wood stove for heating, fridge, microwave, furniture, and beds for 4. The lodge appears new. It's also the hotel, check-in, and a nice, small store. There's a seperate well equipped exercise room and game room. There's also a well equipped playground, picnic area, volleyball, and basketball. Free WiFi is available in the lodge, yet we received a weak signal in the county park next door. I would suspect most camp sites could get a signal. A modem dial-up is located in the older laundry room. The laundry room has 4 washers for $1 a load, and 4 dryers for $.50 a load. The showers and restrooms were a bit worn, but clean.
Fort Tuthill Recreation Area is located in an excellent recreational area. It's located about 90 miles from the Grand Canyon. The entire area is full of opportunities for hiking, bicycling, rafting, kayaking, 4-wheeling, skiing, tubing, and snow-boarding. Indian ruins abound in many nearby locations. The recreation area has a well equipped sport equipment rental section. They also have a well organized Outdoor Adventure program with a variety of organized trips. Although, some of these organized trips seem a tad expensive.
We rated this campground with 3 stars. The emphasis on my review is from a RV'er, or campers point of view. From this aspect, Fort Tuthill Recreation Area is below average. The campground has great potential if more funding and attention was put into it. It appears the emphasis here is on the lodging and organized recreation. Despite any downfalls I may have mentioned, I recommend the campground, as long as you're not expecting a fancy RV resort.