U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Sitgreaves National Forest


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Forest Information

The Sitgreaves National Forest is located in the central-eastern portion of Arizona and is comprised of 817,888 acres. There are fourteen developed campgrounds of which twelve meet our selection criteria. The Apache National Forest and Sitgreaves National Forest are administered together and are referred to as the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.

Reaching north from the Mogollon (MUGGY-ohn) Rim and covered by the largest contiguous Ponderosa pine forest in the country, the Sitgreaves National Forest is a place with a colorful history, spectacular vistas, sweet smelling pines, good recreational opportunities, and great camping locations.

On the eastern side of the Sitgreaves are the towns with interesting names. Names like Show Low, "the town won on the turn of a card," Lakeside, originally a Mormon settlement; and Pinetop, named for the bartender at the "favorite watering hole for the black cavalry troopers stationed at Fort Apache." Just outside Show Low is a National Forest campground called Fool Hollow Lake.. Developed and managed through cooperation between the Forest Service, Arizona State Parks, Arizona Game and Fish, and the city of Show Low, Fool Hollow Lake offers year-round full hook-up sites, as well as seasonal sites with limited or no hook-ups, making it very popular with recreational vehicle (RV) and motorhome camping enthusiasts. In contrast to Fool Hollow Lake campground, there is the Los Burros campground. This campground is located more than twenty-miles southeast of Pinetop and offers only a vault toilet, a few tables and grilles. What it does have is the prettiest little Ponderosa pine-lined meadow you'll see anywhere, very large sites, and one of the Forest's best trails, Los Burros Trail. In between the two is Lakeside campground. Adjacent to State Rt. 260, this campground has the basics and is a convenient overnight or longer stop.

The Mogollon Rim forms the southern edge of the Sitgreaves National Forest. Here the Forest literally drops off into the valley below. The Rim, actually older than the Grand Canyon, is an erosional break in the land. An awesome sight from the valley floor, vistas from the Rim itself of distance mountain tops are also breath-taking. On clear days, the view from the Mogollon Rim Visitor Center includes Four Peaks near Globe, Arizona to the south, and westward, the San Francisco Peaks outside Flagstaff. While the Visitor Center does offer an excellent panoramic view, the best way to experience the Mogollon Rim is from one of several trails.

Some of the Sitgreaves's campgrounds, such as Canyon Point, Mogollon and Rim, have trails to and along the Rim. Other campgrounds have access to the historic 140-mile General Crook Trail, which follows the natural contours of the Rim's edge. The Trail was constructed in 1872 by General Crook as a pack-mule and wagon trail. Its purpose was to transport supplies and establish a line of communication between Fort Whipple and Fort Apache. The original "!" blaze marks, white insulators used for the telegraph line, homesteads and cabins can still be found along the Trail.

Aspens, Gambel Oaks, varies species of Juniper, Douglas fir, and the butterscotch or vanilla-scented Ponderosa pines make the Sitgreaves National Forest an excellent place to observe a variety of wildlife. The Forest's large and robust elk herd is often seen near campgrounds and in meadows along State Rt. 260. Deer, turkey, Abert squirrels, and other animals are also often seen in or near campgrounds. Osprey and eagles can be seen fishing in one of the many lakes in the Sitgreaves National Forest while Stellar jays keep an eye on campsites for a quick snack.

Just as the eastern side of the Sitgreaves has the unique Fool Hollow Lake campground, the western end has its unique campgrounds. In the Rim Lake Recreation Area, a figure "8" campground design was developed. Actually designed as two circles with parallel parking and a vault toilet located in connecting roadway, these campgrounds (Rim, Sinkhole, Mogollon, and Crook) offer an interesting camping experience. Not located on or relatively near water, nor with sites clearly delineated, the figure "8" campgrounds offer the quiet camping experience of years gone by. These figure "8" campgrounds have a "circle-the-wagons" feel, and while not considered "group campgrounds," appear to be well-suited for family or group gatherings.

Like its sister Forest, Apache, the Sitgreaves National Forest recognizes the popular sport of mountain biking. While mountain bikes are permitted on many of trails, the Forest has developed two trails specifically for bikes in the Rim Lakes Area. Of course, hikers are permitted but the trails are designed to challenge the endurance and skills of mountain bikers. Contact the District Ranger Office for maps and more details.

Fishing for rainbow trout in the Rim Lakes of Willow, Bear Canyon, and Woods Canyon lakes is also very popular. However, for hiking and wildlife viewing, the Sitgreaves is one of the best. Elk, deer, Abert squirrels, and many other small animals are frequent visitors to campgrounds. And every trail in the Forest seems to have at least one spectacular vista. With its fishing, hiking, biking, camping, wildlife viewing and many other recreational opportunities, the Sitgreaves National Forest has so much to offer you'll have to come back again and again to discover all it has to offer.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 30 S. Chiricahua Dr. P.O.B. 640 Springerville, Arizona 85938 928-333-4301 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Black Mesa P.O.B. 968 2748 East AZ 260 Overgaard, Arizona 85933 928-535-4481 Lakeside 2022 W. White Mountain Blvd. Lakeside, Arizona 85929 928-368-2100

Fred and Suzi Dow