Special Places

Thanks to the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the Arizona Wilderness Act of 1984, some of the most beautiful country in the Southwest has been preserved for future generations. There are over 200,000 acres of wilderness and primitive areas within the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Travel is restricted to foot or horseback and mechanized equipment is prohibited. An individual with a disability requiring the use of a wheelchair may use the wheelchair, however.     » Read more

Highlighted Areas

Big Lake Dam Parking Fishing Site

This is one of the better known areas on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, a diamond in the White Mountains. There are five campgrounds at the Big Lake Recreation Area complex. These campgrounds can accommodate a large RV of up to 82’, to a throw down camp with just a sleeping bag.  The Apache Trout Campground has full hooks with all the amenities and will facilitate a RV of almost any size. The Rainbow and Grayling campgrounds also have RV sites for smaller RV’s and don’t offer hookups. The Brookchar and Cutthroat campgrounds are tent only campgrounds. A large variety of camping sites are available for you to select from here at the Big Lake Recreation Area complex, whether you are in a tent or motor home.

There are fishing, canoeing, hiking, and bird watching opportunities that will keep you busy, or just relax, read a book, take some pictures, enjoy the quite and beauty of the area. If you forget to bring something don’t worry, the Big Lake Store offers boat rentals, fishing licenses, bait and tackle, T-shirts, sweatshirts, ice, groceries and much more. 

Rent-A-Tent


Blue Range Primitive Area - Alpine District Parcel

Recreation on the Forest

 

                                                 **NOTICE**

The northwest portion of the Blue Range Primitive Area  has been severely affected by the Wallow Fire of June 2011. The area is currently open to public use and entry, HOWEVER -  trails may not yet been assessed or maintained for hazards associated with the fire.  Please keep in mind that any area affected by the wildfire can be prone to hazards such as falling trees, flooding and burned out stump holes. The environment you are entering is highly susceptible to rainstorms and wind events. Any time you enter the forest, you should be aware of your environment and changing weather conditions. You are responsible for your own safety! Always look up, look down, and look all around.

In 1540, the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado was the first European to travel through the area, and his journal writer described it as a huge trackless wilderness.  In 1825 Mountain man James Ohio Pattie visited the Blue Range trapping beaver and marveled at the number of clear running streams, the lush vegetation of the canyons, and the plentiful wildlife. In 1905 Forest Service Employee W.H.B. Kent described the Blue Range as “no discernible mountain range, but rather a chaotic mass of very precipitous hills”.

In 1933 the Secretary of Agriculture proclaimed that the Blue Range should be managed for primitive uses to maintain the wildness of that area. In 1971, the President of the United States forwarded a recommendation for the Blue Range Wilderness in New Mexico and Arizona to Congress, who acted in 1980 on a portion of it, designating the Blue Range Wilderness in New Mexico. 

The Blue Range Primitive Area is the last designated primitive area in the National Forest System. The Blue Range and the presidential recommendation additions together total 199,505 acres and by law are managed the same as congressionally designated wilderness.

Located on the edge of the Mogollon Rim and the breaks of the Blue River, this is a land of rugged mountains, steep canyons, and stark ridges that is at the same time remote and accessible through an extensive trail system. Elevations range from 4,500 feet in the southern portion to 9,100 feet along the rim. This rapid change in elevation results in interesting and unique ecological associations.


Escudilla Wilderness

**NOTICE**

The Escudilla Wilderness has been severely affected by the Wallow Fire of June 2011. The area is currently open to public use and entry, HOWEVER - The trails may not yet been assessed or maintained for hazards associated with the fire.  The Escudilla Lookout was severely damaged by the fire, and there are overhead hazards to being in the area below - the lookout and the fenced area below it are closed to all public entry due to safety concerns

Please keep in mind that any area affected by the wildfire can be prone to hazards such as falling trees, flooding and burned out stump holes. The environment you are entering is highly susceptible to rainstorms and wind events. Any time you enter the forest, you should be aware of your environment and changing weather conditions. You are responsible for your own safety! Always look up, look down, and look all around.

You can see towering Escudilla Mountain from just about anywhere in the neighborhood (the neighborhood of eastern Arizona, that is). The Wilderness encompases the upper reaches of the mountain, which at 10,912 feet is the third highest in the state of Arizona. It was this mountain that Aldo Leopold referred to in his article "Thinking Like a Mountain" where he arrived at the side of a wolf he had shot "in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes," an experience that he grew to regret and which forever changed his life. The last known grizzly bear in Arizona was killed here, and Leopold wrote: "Somehow it seems that the spirit of the bear is still there, prowling the huge meadows, lurking in the thick stands of aspen and spruce, wandering the steep slopes that looking down from is like looking out of the window of an airplane." 

 
Two trails give access to Escudilla Wilderness. The three-mile, maintained Escudilla National Recreation Trail #308, approaches the summit from the Terry Flat Loop Road and leads to a fire lookout tower, the highest tower in the state. The Government Trail #119 starts at the base of the mountain and also climbs to the summit as it ascends Profanity Ridge. You will find little water along these trails, but views that reach to Flagstaff 100 miles away.
 
The Wilderness Act requires management of human-caused impacts and protection of the area's wilderness character to insure that it is "unimpaired for the future use and enjoyment as wilderness." Use of the equipment listed as prohibited in wilderness is inconsistent with the provision in the Wilderness Act which mandates opportunities for solitude or primitive recreation and that wilderness is a place that is in contrast with areas where people and their works are dominant. 
 
Leave No Trace Priciples
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website at www.LNT.

Bear Wallow Wilderness

*NOTICE*

The Bear Wallow Wilderness was the origin point of, and has been severely affected by, the Wallow Fire of June 2011. The area is currently open to public use and entry, HOWEVER - The trails may not yet been assessed or maintained for hazards associated with the fire.  Please keep in mind that any area affected by the wildfire can be prone to hazards such as falling trees, flooding and burned out stump holes. The environment you are entering is highly susceptible to rainstorms and wind events. Any time you enter the forest, you should be aware of your environment and changing weather conditions. You are responsible for your own safety! Always look up, look down, and look all around.

The Bear Wallow Wilderness is home to some of the largest acreage of virgin ponderosa pine in the Southwest, venerable reminders of a once extensive forest of these giants. Along the length of the area, through a blanket of pine, fir, and spruce, Bear Wallow Creek flows year-round and is shaded by green riparian hardwoods during summer. The creek provides a habitat for the endangered Apache trout; anglers can try for other species in the creek and its north and south forks. Early explorers were impressed by the large number of well-used wallows, which revealed how plentiful the area's population of black bears was. Black bears still abound, and you may see elk, deer, and a diverse community of smaller mammals, birds, and reptiles. Wildflowers bloom in profusion, especially during the summer rains. Poison ivy is present and can be dangerously abundant in places.

Five trails offer foot and horse access to Bear Wallow. The Reno Trail #62 (1.9 miles) and the Gobbler Point Trail #59 (2.9 miles) drop into the canyon of the creek from easily accessible trailheads on Forest Service roads. The Bear Wallow Trail # 63 follows the rocky stream bed 8.2 miles to the boundary of the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. The Schell Canyon Trail #316 (2.8 miles) connects the Bear Wallow Trail and the canyon floor to the Rose Spring Trail #309 (4.5 miles), which skirts the southern boundary along the precipitous Mogollon Rim, the southern edge of the vast Colorado Plateau. From atop the Mogollon Rim the views to the south are tremendous. Visitors to the San Carlos Reservation must have an advance permit. For information and permits, contact the San Carlos Tribal Office, Box O, San Carlos, AZ 85550. Recreational use of Bear Wallow is light. 

Bear Wallow Wilderness is part of the 110 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System. This System of lands provides clean air, water, and habitat critical for rare and endangered plants and animals. In wilderness, you can enjoy challenging recreational activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, horse packing, bird watching, stargazing, and extraordinary opportunities for solitude.
You play an important role in helping to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness" as called for by the Congress of the United States through the Wilderness Act of 1964.
Please follow the requirements outlined below and use Leave No Trace techniques when visiting the Bear Wallow Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.

Leave No Trace

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

For more information on Leave No Trace, visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website at www.lnt.org.


Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area Campground

Recent development of Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area has created a top of the line experience. Campsites are located in several loops that wind amongst ponderosa pine. Many campsites have a view of the 150 acre lake and wildlife islands. The predominant tree species is ponderosa pine with juniper and pinyon pine scattered about. A newly constructed day use area offers five large group picnic ramadas and two playgrounds.

Summer 2014 Interpretive Events


Aker Lake Fishing Site

One of the many hidden jewels of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests is pristine Aker Lake, which is just over 25 miles south of Alpine just off of the west side of Highway 191 on FR 8312. Located in higher elevation this secluded gem is a wonderful getaway from the heat and the hassle of everyday life, giving you a quiet, cool revitalizing break.

This small lake, which has Apache trout and Arctic grayling, is a catch and release, artificial lure and flies only lake. Be sure to check with current Arizona fishing regulations for this site before your visit.

Often you are the only visitor at the lake; there are several dispersed camping areas that are seldom occupied. The Aker Lake trail is 3.5 miles that will take you to the Hannagan campground; this is a good trail for mountain biking as well as hiking and horseback riding.