Coconino National Forest

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The Coconino National Forest is one of six National Forests in Arizona. Recreation opportunities in the Coconino National Forest's 1.8 million acres are as varied as the landscape and elevation of the forest itself. The elevation ranges from 2,600 to 12,633 feet at the top of the ancient volcanic San Francisco Peaks. The spectacular Mogollon Rim, a 1,000-foot cliff, runs for miles across central Arizona on the southern edge of the forest. Forest landscapes range from semi-arid desert to extensive ponderosa pine stands to alpine tundra.

Scenic Drives
The Coconino National Forest contains nearly 6,300 miles of forest roads. Surfaced roads feature many scenic drives including US Highway 89A through Oak Creek Canyon and the Red Rocks of Sedona, and Forest Highway 3 to Mormon Lake—both have been nominated as National Scenic Byways. For those adventure drives on maintained dirt roads, Forest Road 300 provides spectacular views of the Mogollon Rim, and Forest Roads 151 and 418 lead the traveler around the base of the San Francisco Peaks with wonderful views of aspen covered slopes. During the leaf color change in the fall, both drives are especially beautiful.

All forest roads may be traveled by off-highway vehicles when the vehicle and operator are properly licensed. There is a 13,500-acre area specifically designated for off-highway vehicle recreation.

Lakes and Streams
There are high country lakes with boat ramps on the Coconino National Forest where forest visitors can fish, boat, or swim. Most lakes and streams are stocked with sportfish by Arizona Game and Fish. Oak Creek Canyon offers opportunities for fishing and swimming in a warmer climate and is a popular destination for forest visitors.

There's year-round fly-fishing in the scenic Verde Valley trout streams in the red-rock Sedona-Cottonwood area, and during colder winters, ice fishing is also a popular pastime.

The Coconino National Forest is home for large game animals, small animals, and protected species. Forest visitors can hunt (with a state permit) elk, mule, white-tailed deer, antelope, bear, mountain lion, turkey, squirrel, and rabbit. Protected wildlife living on the forest includes wintering bald eagles, nesting osprey, and other raptors and various songbirds. Mormon Lake and Lake Mary are popular viewing sites for migrating waterfowl.

Wildflowers abound on the forest, with the peak growing seasons occurring in late spring and following the summer rains. Mushroom collectors also flock to the Coconino following the summer monsoon season.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 6 Jan 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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