The Bradshaw Mountains, located south of Prescott, have long been known for being one of the most mineralized mountain ranges in the world. As early as the mid-1800's, mining first brought settlers to this part of Arizona. The Bradshaw Ranger District encompasses the Bradshaw Range and extends beyond it, surrounding the city of Prescott.
The Bradshaws offer cool relief from the desert below, with numerous developed and dispersed recreation opportunities available. Mount Union, in the Bradshaws, is the highest elevation on the forest, at nearly 8,000 feet. From 7,000 to 8,000 foot elevation along the Bradshaw Range, the vegetation changes from pure forests of ponderosa pine to mixed conifer forests of Douglas-fir and white fir. The weather throughout the Bradshaw District is moderate, with daytime temperatures averaging 50 degrees in the winter and 70 degrees in summer. Recreation opportunities abound throughout all seasons.
Granite Mountain Wilderness, the forest's only "urban" wilderness, is located just a few short miles from Prescott. Other scenic attractions include Thumb Butte, Lynx Lake and the Thumb Butte Loop, as well as drives to Palace Station and Crown King. For more information, please contact the Bradshaw Ranger District.
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Horsethief Basin Recreation Area offers a variety of recreational opportunities including: hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, and OHV riding. Castle Creek Wilderness is located nearby, and Horsethief Cabin and Turney Gulch Group Campground are available by reservation. Day use sites and trails are open year-round; overnight accomodations are not available during the winter. Scroll down (below the recreation map) to learn more about these recreational opportunities.
Note: Until further notice, use of a high-clearance vehicle is recommended for those who plan to visit recreation sites in Horsethief Basin.
Nestled among pines and boulders of Prescott's iconic Granite Mountain, Granite Basin Recreation Area offers a variety of recreational opportunities year-round including: hiking, backpacking, horse riding, non-motorized boating, rock climbing, fishing, camping, and picnicking. Scroll down (below the recreation map) to learn more about the excellent recreational opportunities in Granite Basin.
Note: Some sites in this recreation area may close to prevent resource damage following especially heavy snow and when the roads are too icy. If you plan to visit and want to make sure it is open, please contact the Bradshaw Ranger Station: 928-443-8000.
Notice: Visitors are asked to be alert and stay on existing trails when recreating on Granite Mountain as the area recovers from the Doce Fire of 2013. Soil erosion has occurred on portions of the trails, thus exposing more rock, and cross-country travel increases the possibility of encountering rolling rocks, stump and root holes, falling trees, and loose soils from rains.
Located in the cool pines just outside of Prescott, AZ, Lynx Lake Recreation Area offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities including: hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing, boating, and picnicking. Scroll down (below the recreation map) to learn more about the excellent recreational opportunities at Lynx Lake.
Located near the geographic center of Arizona, the Verde Ranger District is accessible to visitors from all over the state. Drop a fishing line into the Verde River at one of eight day-use access points or put your canoe in at White Bridge Recreation Area for a popular nine-mile float to Beasley Flat. Explore the site of an old salt mine near Camp Verde, re-create history by following part of General Crook’s military supply route, or book a stay at Sycamore Cabin, which once served as the ranger station for the old Bloody Basin Ranger District. ATV enthusiasts can enjoy off-road riding at Hayfield Draw.
For relief from summer’s heat, follow the winding highway up to Mingus Mountain and camp in the pines at Potato Patch Campground or Mingus Recreation Area; groups of 20 to 100 can reserve Playground Group Campground. Many of the District’s hiking trails are located on Mingus, but it’s also a great place to relax and enjoy panoramic views of the Verde Valley. A bit lower on the mountain, near the cluster of homes known as Cherry, Powell Springs Campground stays open all year.
To escape from the crowds, try a backpacking trip into Pine Mountain or Cedar Bench wildernesses, on the southeastern edge of the District. Bring your own water and be prepared for an abundance of wildlife such as bears, mountain lions, and javelina. For more information, please contact the Verde Ranger District.
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Prescott National Forest has eight sites that offer access to the Verde River. Some sites are commonly used to put-in or take-out non-motorized watercraft while others offer picnicking facilities or are popular for wading and fishing. Down river, starting at Beasley Flat, the Verde River has Wild & Scenic River status protecting its outstanding natural and cultural values. Upriver, the Verde Canyon Railroad follows the Verde River as it cuts through stunning red rock canyons that border the Prescott and Coconino National Forests.
Verde River Guide (&, 928 KB PDF) Please plan ahead, be prepared, and practice Leave No Trace ethics to leave the Verde just as you find it for those who come after.
Canoe and Kayak Launch:
White Bridge Located across from the Verde Ranger Station on Highway 260, this site has picnic facilities and is the most popular boat launch for float trips to Beasley Flat.
Beasley Flat This site marks the beginning of the Wild & Scenic stretch of the Verde River which is recommended only for experienced boaters. Float trips take out here, and there are picnic facilities and a nature trail.
Clear Creek Though boaters can put in or take out here, this is not a very good boat launch. The access to the river is steep and slippery, and parking is limited.
Black Canyon A popular fishing spot, and a fun place to splash around on an inner tube!