Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery

Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery Fish

Only 20 miles east of Payson is the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery.  The hatchery is run by Arizona Game and Fish and is a great place to learn about fish hatchery production.  It is also a great place to escape the heat for the day or the weekend.  And, besides the odd quarter or two to feed the fish in the feeding area, a visit to the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery is absolutely FREE!

According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, “Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery produces and stocks about 165,000 catchable rainbow trout and 400,000 brook and cutthroat trout each year, plus about 150,000 of Arizona's state fish-the Apache trout.”  The Apache trout was almost wiped out, but the Game and Fish Department was able to bring it back to a thriving population.Feeding Fish

The breeding tanks are laid out in a step-up configuration, starting with the tiny fish.  The facility is built on a slight hill, although walking up isn’t really a big deal, because you stop to peek at each of the huge tanks.  At the top of the facility is a small visitor’s center with information about the Hatchery, as well as viewing into the nursery area. This is also where the bathrooms are!

All of our kids really enjoyed learning about the life cycle of a trout. Even the littlest kiddos can get something out of it, since it is a very visual experience.  And, everyone enjoyed feeding the fish in the feeding pond!

Fish TankTake 260 East from Payson toward Kohl’s Ranch. Turn North (left) onto Tonto Creek Road and go all the way to the end to the hatchery. It is approximately 4 miles down Tonto Creek Road, which is a beautiful drive. You can see the scenic picnic and camping areas along the road.  On the way to (or from) the Hatchery is Rancho Tonto Catch a Trout, if you or the kids want to catch a quick rainbow trout before you head out.  This is also a great adventure to combine with one of the other area activities, like the Paleo Site, hunting for geodes, diamond finding, or crawfishing!


3898 North Tonto Creek Road # 1 Payson, AZ 85541
(928) 478-4200