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Needle Rock Recreation Area, AZ

135 16 1
Guide 16 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3 of 5 by 7
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Distance One Way 0 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,527 feet
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Perennial Creek
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
5  2018-11-09 Voltage69
2  2018-07-21 RickVincent
8  2018-04-21
Lower Verde Bike-Rafting
6  2018-02-03
Needle Rock - Verde wander
1  2017-12-16 ssk44
21  2017-05-07
Needle Rock to Bartlett Dam
2  2017-04-23 rrshort
2  2017-04-19 arizona_water
Page 1,  2,  3
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jan, Dec, Feb, Mar
Sun  6:14am - 6:25pm
2 Alternative
Named place Nearby

Unique and highly scenic segment of the lower Verde River below Bartlett Lake. Needle Rock Recreation Area is a fee based day-use only site. Overnight camping it not permitted. Facilities consist of a general parking area, picnic areas with grills, trash service, and vault toilets. Recreation activities consist of riparian river hiking, swimming, fishing, and bird watching. This area is known for bald eagle and great blue heron nesting.

Fees: Tonto Pass

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
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One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Needle Rock Recreation Area
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I had to be in N Scottsdale for work this week, so I took the opportunity to checkout a part of the Verde River that I've never seen before. I only had an hour, so it was a brief walk, but very cool to see the high-ish water levels. I didn't see a single vehicle in the parking area. Must be the weekday! I've heard this area can get crowded on the weekends.

I expected to see a snake or other wildlife, but all I saw were some happy squirrels :)
Needle Rock Recreation Area
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Another play day at Needle Rock. This time with out of town guests from Philly and Calgary. We swam, hiked, jumped off rocks and set up a 40 foot rappel that dropped us into the water below.

Grabbed lunch in Fountain Hills at Munich Gyros which I recommend for anyone going through the area. Delicious gyro meat and they don't skimp on stuffing the pita to its max. The baklava was also very good.
Needle Rock Recreation Area
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My first return to this place since the late 80's. Wow has it changed. The rocks are still there and exactly as I remember them, but what used to look like more of a typical Arizona desert setting, now looks more like a lush green riparian oasis. That is all except for the trash, which is strewn everywhere. Leave it up to the typical losers, lowlifes and scumbags to trash the very nature areas they enjoy. Then, they complain when easy access becomes restricted due to their bad habits.

Anyway, I arrived with my kids, Emma and Justin to a mostly empty parking lot. We jumped off rocks, swam, floated on tubes, and battled the river by attempting to kayak upstream. That was fun. I think we had to portage twice. Two paddlers on a two person kayak pulling a third person on a tube just wasn't working out in the fast rapids. We made it up river to a jungle-like setting with several rope swings. We had some fun there and then enjoyed the easy float back down to the rec area.

When we returned, the parking lot was packed and new arrivals were sent looking for overflow space. Weather was great, partly cloudy, and a small storm cell even passed over us and provided a little rainfall, albeit light and only lasting a few minutes.
Needle Rock Recreation Area
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Needle Rock rec center to Riverside CG loop
My goal was to hike from Needle Rock recreation site to Riverside campground by the Bartlett dam. In order to loop this, the plan was to hike Needle Rock to Bartlett Dam road, then drop down to the Bartlett Dam to Riverside GC. Then return to Needle rock.

I started out on FR143, which is Camp Creek road. It's a wash all the way through. I keep on eye out for my return trails, but I never saw them. I saw them on the GPS, but nothing obvious. Camp Creek road is also a part of the Great Western trail. The views are not exciting and the wash gets old fast. I hopped off onto FR388 to hit Bartlett dam road faster. About 1/3 of the way down, I caught a ride to the dam road.

The dam road takes you right behind the dam and to the Verde river. I got as close as I could to the dam without getting a visit from the FBI! I then went through the Riverside campgrounds and took lunch in a spot overlooking the Verde. Now I was on unnamed/un-numbered ATV trails. They were much better than hiking in a wash and the views were great. I did a bunch of exploring while working my way towards the Needle Rock area.

I got to a point to where I was about 60 feet above Camp Creek road/FR143 on a ridge-line. I then figured out why I didn't see this trail in the morning. It was above me and it technically the two don't connect. I saw a bunch of tire tracks, bike tread and footprints, so I knew there was down. I 'explored' until I found a suitable route down.

The almost full moon and the sandy wash made night hiking a blast! I didn't need to use the flashlight.

The first part of the hike was boring and drawn out. The second half was a lot of fun with great views. I will be back for more exploring on the trails between Needle rock and Bartlett Dam.
Needle Rock Recreation Area
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The last few weeks have been so nice with the heavy monsoon pattern. I can't believe how mild our July temps have been. The evening temperature out hear was only 92. This is late July! Simply perfect for river hiking and swimming. It felt like heaven. This is an amazingly beautiful summer destination. I never dreamed it would be a nice as it was. It's not trashed and graffiti was minimal. The Tonto National Forest has done a great job restoring and revitalizing this area. I'm impressed. The river has gorgeous lush riparian vegetation and the surrounding rock formations and mountains perfectly package the location. The upstream river looked simply scrumptious. This was a late evening intro trip. I can't wait to get back out hear and hike upstream. Another bonus to this place is the nice cool water. This part of the river is fed from the bottom of Bartlett Lake. The water temperature could not have been over 75 degrees. My recent trip to the upper Salt felt like low-mid 80's. Mid 70's are perfect on a hot summer day. What a great way to spend a Friday evening. Nice way to close the week.


Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
Access is from either Scottsdale via Dynamite Boulevard (Rio Verde Drive) or Fountain Hills via McDowell Mountain Road. At the intersection of Rio Verde Drive and McDowell Mountain Road, turn north on paved FR20 and drive three miles to Needle Rock Recreation Area. The last 1/4 mile to Needle Rock beach is gravel.

Fees: day-use Tonto Pass is required for this site
page created by ssk44 on Jul 26 2013 10:53 pm
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