The Coconino National Forest is located in central Arizona and is
comprised of 1.8 million acres. There are twenty-five developed
campgrounds of which sixteen meet the selection criteria.
Surrounding Flagstaff, Arizona is the Coconino National Forest. This is more than a "backyard" forest. The sights found in the Coconino National Forest are known world-wide. Anyone who has watched a Hollywood western will recognize the Red Rock country of Oak Creek Canyon and the San Francisco Peaks. The Painted Desert is just short drive up the east side of the Forest. And Sunset Crater National Monument is a moon-scape in a rainbow colors. But the Coconino is more than "just a pretty place." Fishing to wind surfing in the Lake Country, trail riding to bird watching in the San Francisco Peaks, hiking and exploring along the Mogollon (MUGGY-ohn) Rim, taking photos to meditating within the Red Rock country, Coconino National Forest has a wide variety of recreational opportunities and equally varied camping locations to enjoy.
Just south of Flagstaff is an area referred to as the Lake Country. With 4,000 acres of lakes, most are man-made and surrounded by huge grassy meadows, this is an area of diverse water sports. Ashurst Lakes offer not only good fishing and excellent bird watching opportunities but also wind and water sports. Sunfish sailboats and the wind surfer can be seen occasionally at the Ashurst Lake or Forked Pine campgrounds. The man-made Lake Mary provides water to the Flagstaff area and offers year-around water-related recreation opportunities. Mormon Lake is a shallow, truly natural lake. Its size is dependent on recent precipitation and while, in "good" years, Mormon Lake may be the largest natural body of water in Arizona, campers at Double Springs and Dairy Springs campgrounds know not to expect to much in the dry years.
San Francisco Peaks, seen long before visitors reach the Flagstaff area, is composed of four peaks - Humphrey, at 12,633 feet is the tallest, while Agassiz, Fremont and Doyle Peaks are at lower elevations. The Peaks are remnants of an ancient volcano. Separate but nearby is Sunset Crater National Monument. Sunset Crater is the youngest (newest) example of the area's volcanic nature. Bonito campground, located at the entrance to Sunset Crater National Monument and well designed for motorhome and recreational vehicle (RV) camping enthusiasts, was built on volcanic ash and cinders from this crater. Tall Ponderosa pines grow out of the black and red ground and provide an interesting contrast in texture and color. Bonito also offers a convenient location from which to enjoy so much more. The town of Flagstaff seems to have something going on every weekend during the summer months. There is the panoramic Skyride at the Snowbowl Ski Resort (an extra special treat during the Fall-colors of Autumn) and the Wupatki National Monument with several 700-year old pueblo ruins.
The Coconino National Forest is roughly bounded on the south by the Mogollon Rim. The Bude Fire of 1990 destroyed acres and acres of the forest along the Rim. The Rim is following nature's pace and is slowly recovering. Berries are abundant and among the young Aspen the soft green of young Ponderosa pines are appearing. Looking beyond the new growth, the view from the Rim is spectacular. Perhaps the best way to experience the Rim is a hike or drive along Forest Route 300. The scenic route roughly follows the historic General Crook's Trail through this portion of the Forest. Near the Rim is the attractive campground called Knoll Lake. There is no easy or quick way to this campground but Knoll Lake is well worth the challenge of a long drive. Cool, well-shaded, secluded large sites, the challenge of Rainbow Trout in the nearby lake, and the chattering of Abert squirrels await visitors to the Knoll Lake campground.
Red Rock country and Oak Creek Canyon are considered by many as the "most beautiful area in the West." It is one of the most photographed places in the Coconino National Forest. Oak Canyon Creek cuts down through 1,200 feet into the Colorado Plateau. Along Oak Creek Canyon are the Pine Flat, Cave Springs and
Manzanita (preferred by many car and tent camping enthusiasts over the first two camping locations) campgrounds. Each of these campgrounds have hiking trails which provide further access to explore and experience this magnificent area. The campgrounds in Oak Canyon Creek are very popular. Convenient to the Red Rocks/Secret Mountain Wilderness and a variety of attraction in Sedona, these campgrounds do fill-up daily.
The Coconino National Forest also offers opportunities for history lovers. As well as the ruins at Wupatki, there are the Montezuma Castle National Monument, Honanki and Palatki Ruins. One unique "public archaeological" experience for visitors to the Forest is the Elden Pueblo. The Coconino National Forest hosts "Public Dig Days" during the summer and fall for visitors interested in excavating with professional archaeologists. During this event, participates learn about excavation, artifact processing, note taking, and stabilization (contact the Coconino National Forest, Archaeology Section for more information).
From the snow-capped San Francisco Peaks to desert highlands along the Verde River, Coconino National Forest offers a wide variety of topography, climate, camping locations, and recreational opportunities. Visitors find one visit is not enough. Come and experience the wonders of this spectacular Forest.
1824 S. Thompson St.
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001
RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES
H.C. 31, Box 300
Happy Jack, Arizona 86024
5075 N. Hwy. 89
Flagstaff, Arizona 86004
8375 S. Hwy 179
Sedona, Arizona 86340