Frequently Asked Questions

As people call or write with questions, the most frequently asked make it here:

 

Subject Question
Travel Management I heard the forest is closing. Where do I find information on that?
Artifacts Is it legal to pick up arrowheads on national forests?
Bell Trail Is the sign correct at Bell Trail that says "No Trailers"?
Campground Payments Can I use a Credit Card to pay for camping?
Christmas Tree Decorating May I Decorate Trees in the National Forest for Christmas?
Closure What is a closure?
Coconino Name What does "Coconino" mean?
Crime What should I do if I spot possible illegal activity on the forest?
Developed Campsites How do I reserve a campsite?
Dispersed Camping Can I reserve a campsite by parking a vehicle, placing a tent or other personal property on the forest in advance of occupying the site?
Dogs and other Pets Are dogs allowed in the forest and on forest trails?
Drought What will be the effect of a long term drought on the pine forests?
Employment How do I inquire about jobs on the Coconino National Forest?
Firewood Can I gather wood near my campsite for a campfire?
Fire Restrictions What are fire restrictions and how do they affect me?
Fire Tower Lookouts Can I visit the fire tower lookouts?
Geocache Does Coconino National Forest have a policy on geocaches?
Guns Are guns permitted?
Horses What about Equestrian use on the Forest?
Hunting access and game retrieval What type of access is allowed for November (winter) hunters for camping facilities, or for hunting access or to retrieve downed game?
Land Sale I've heard the forest is for sale. Where do I get information on available parcels?
Maps Are maps of the forest available?
Mining, Prospecting, Recreational What do I Have to do to mine (prospect) on the Coconino?
NEPA What is NEPA?
No-See-Ums (Juniper or Cedar Gnats) I have noticed what I perceive to be an unusually large and hungry population of "noseeums". What can be done?
Oak Creek Water Quality How can I find out about the water quality in Oak Creek?
Paintballing Is Paintballing allowed on the Coconino National Forest?
Permits How do I obtain a special-use permit?
Reserve Campsites How do I reserve a campsite?
Roads Are Forest Service roads open to the public?
San Francisco Peaks What are the names of the 4 major peaks on the San Francisco Peaks?
Shooting Are guns and shooting permitted?
Swimming in Coconino NF Lakes Can I swim in the lakes on the Coconino National Forest?
Trees What kinds of trees grow in the Coconino National Forest?
Tree Sap What's all that sticky, sap-like stuff dripping from the trees?
Tree Stands Can I put up a tree stand in the National Forest?
Trees that are dead What about all those dead trees?
Volunteering Can I volunteer to work on the forest?
Wastewater - Gray Water Can I dispose of my RV graywater on forest land?
Water Can you provide any information on the "Aquifer" beneath the Mogollon Rim?

 

What are the names of the 4 major peaks on the San Francisco Peaks?Peaks Thumbnail

Please click on the photo for labels.

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Can I put up a tree stand in the National Forest?

Tree stands are legal as long as you don’t leave them in the forest unattended and you don’t damage the tree. Tree stands need to be portable and removed when not in use. You cannot put nails or screws in a tree, or remove limbs, without causing damage to the tree. There are tree stands on the market that meet these requirements.

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Are dogs allowed in the forest and on forest trails?

Generally, dogs (pets), are allowed anywhere in the forest provided they are contained (as in a vehicle or a cage) or leashed at all times. Please note the following exceptions:

[See Code of Federal Regulations - Title 36 Sec 261.8(D) and Sec.261.16(J)]

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What type of access is allowed for November (winter) hunters for camping facilities, or for hunting access or to retrieve downed game?

Annually we close our developed campgrounds in September and October as use trickles off and it is no longer cost effective to keep these facilities open. However, most hunters camp near or in the hunt units at sites along Forest Roads - what we called dispersed campsites, not in our developed campgrounds. As such you would be able to camp along open Forest Roads outside of the city limits as  marked on most maps and signed on the ground. NO CAMPING inside the city limits.

In terms of open roads - we close roads as they become snow-covered or saturated with moisture for two reasons: for public safety and to protect the road surface from rutting and damage caused by vehicle traffic in wet weather. We anticipate closing roads for the winter as weather conditions change. These roads once closed are closed to ALL MOTORIZED TRAFFIC including ATVs.

In terms of using your ATV or vehicle for game retrieval it is your responsibility to obey posted restrictions, such as any cross-country travel closures as they are signed on the ground. Information on these areas is available at all three Forest Service offices in Flagstaff. Where cross-country motorized travel is allowed we require that people ride safely and responsibly and attempt to avoid causing any damage to the landscape including ruts and damage to vegetation.

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May I Decorate Trees in the National Forest for Christmas?
Decorating trees is a wonderful tradition, but much more appropriate on private and commercial property than on the National Forest. The Forest Service will be proactively taking steps to prevent tree decorating on the National Forest. Decorations will be promptly removed, and individuals responsible can be issued violation notices under the Code of Federal Regulations CFR 261.11b for "possessing or leaving litter on the National Forest" with a fine of $150 or more.

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What does Coconino mean?
It is the word the Hopi use for Havasupai and Yavapai Indians. The Coconino National Forest was so named because it is located in the central portion of Coconino County.

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Are maps of the forest available?
Yes! Click "Maps & Brochures" on the Navigation Links to your left.

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How do I reserve a campsite?
All of our campgrounds have sites that are available on a "first-come, first-serve" basis. However, some campgrounds have sites that are reservable. Check out the Recreation Activities page to see which sites are reservable and then if you would like to reserve a site, call Recreation.Gov at 877-444-6777 (toll free number), TDD at 877-833-6777. For those who prefer solitude and privacy , dispersed or backcountry camping in allowed anywhere within the forest boundary (with some exceptions). Although there are some restrictions, signs will indicate where those restrictions apply.

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What are fire restrictions and how do they affect me?
Fire restrictions are issued by the Forest Supervisor after coordinating with District Rangers and Fire Management Officers on local conditions. Conditions that could warrant the issuance of fire restrictions include, but are not limited to: high temperatures, low humidities, low fuel moistures, and an increase in the number of fire starts.

When in effect, fire restrictions mean campfires and smoking are not permitted. Charcoal, wood and coal fires outside of dwellings are classified as campfires. However, gas burning stoves and grills are permitted. Smoking is permitted in designated forest camp and picnic grounds or in a vehicle provided an ash tray is used.

Permits authorizing campfires may be issued by designated Forest Officers when local conditions are favorable and/or in some Forest Service developed camp or picnic grounds. It is advised to call ahead to each local district office as restrictions may vary on the forest.

Additional information is available at the Fire page.

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What is NEPA?
"NEPA" refers to the National Environmental Policy Act. NEPA provides direction for the planning, analysis and public disclosure of federally-funded project which affect our environment. The Schedule of Proposed Activities (SOPA) contains a listing of currently planned projects and other ongoing analysis related to the Forest's environment. Visit the Coconino Forest NEPA page for more information.

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What is a closure?
A closure is a restriction upon certain activities or public use of a defined area on the Forest. For example, vehicular use of certain roads may be restricted when they are wet. The purpose of this type of closure would be to prevent damage to the road itself and subsequent damage to soils or streams from water or mud draining off the damaged road. Closures might also be implemented to help prevent human-caused fires, protect human life, or protect property associated with government activities.

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How do I obtain a special-use permit?
National Forests provide numerous resources which are of value to the public. Permits for minerals, firewood, recreational uses (family gatherings, weddings, etc.), and commercial uses are available at Coconino National Forest district offices. In addition, Christmas tree permits are available through the sale-by-mail program, or in some instances, over-the-counter sales. For more information, please stop by or contact any of our offices.

Additional information is available on the Permits page.

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Are Forest Service roads open to the public?
Yes. Most National Forest roads are constructed and maintained for use by prudent drivers in high clearance vehicles (such as pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles, and commercial trucks) as opposed to ordinary passenger cars. Speed of travel is not usually a consideration in design of "high clearance" roads. Different skills are needed to drive these roads than are needed to drive down the highway in the family sedan.

  • Commercial use of a Forest Service road requires authorization in a contract or permit. Commercial operators are required to perform or pay for road maintenance made necessary by their use.
  • Snow is generally NOT plowed on Forest Service roads.
  • Individual roads may be closed to vehicles to protect resources or simply because need for a road is intermittent in nature.
  • Forest Service roads closed to vehicles are usually open to foot travel.

Each Forest Service road exists to serve a specific need or needs identified as necessary for management of the portion of National Forest the road serves. Roads are constructed and maintained with funds appropriated by Congress for management of the National Forests. The Forest Service is the owner of these roads. (By contrast, "public roads" are owned by cities, state, and counties; constructed and maintained with highway user funds such as gas tax and vehicle license fees; and are intended for all uses in the general commerce of the United States.) Thus, while the Forest Service roads are necessary for management of the public's National Forests, the roads themselves may not individually be open to all types of vehicles at all times.

When you visit the Coconino National Forest, you will probably reach your destination by traveling on a Forest Service road. Please drive carefully; paying attention to wildlife crossing the road, other traffic, and surface conditions.

New rules for motor vehicle use based on the Travel Management Rule, went into effect on the Coconino National Forest May 1, 2012. The new rules require that motor vehicles stay on designated roads, trails, and areas shown on the Motor Vehicle Use Map (available for free at all National Forest offices). So, if you plan on camping, driving off-highway vehicles, hunting, or exploring the backcountry; please make sure you first get a free Motor Vehicle Use Map. There is more information available on the Travel Management webpage of this website. Know before you go.

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What should I do if I spot possible illegal activity on the forest?
Please call the Coconino National Forest Supervisor's Office at (928)527-3600 so that a Law Enforcement Officer can investigate. Also, the Forest Dispatch Office could be contacted at (928)526-0600. Dial 911 if there is an emergency.

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How do I inquire about jobs on the Coconino National Forest?
Well, since you're obviously an internet user, you can access our job listings on the internet! Go to http://www.usajobs.gov (or link to it from our Employment page). The jobs are posted in alphabetical order by their title (i.e. archaeologist or forestry technician). This is a listing of Forest Service jobs nation-wide.

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Can I volunteer to work on the forest?
Yes! The public plays a very important part in managing your National Forests. The Coconino National Forest relies more and more on volunteers to assist with campgrounds, trails and other programs. Concerned citizens help the Forest Service to provide better wildlife habitat, identify and preserve historic sites, and build and maintain trails. We extend a warm welcome to all who wish to volunteer on the Coconino National Forest. Just contact the Ranger Station in the area that you wish to volunteer to find out about opportunities.

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How can I find out about the water quality in Oak Creek?
Water quality in Oak Creek is sometimes affected by rain or snow runoff or by the high concentration of people visiting the area. These disturbances stir up sediment and increase levels of bacteria in the water. If you plan to recreate in the creek, you should call (928) 542-0202 to find out what the quality of the water is.

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What about all those dead trees?

Bark Beetle Epidemic: Many people have inquired about the large number of dead pine trees they are seeing on the Coconino National Forest and around the City of Flagstaff. The majority of these trees have been attacked by beetles or have fallen victim to drought stress. More information..

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What's all that sticky, sap-like stuff dripping from the trees?

The sticky substance that is causing the sheen on the needles of trees, the sticky film on your vehicle windshields and the goopy mess on sidewalks and roads is caused by aphids. Aphids are tiny insects that feed on tree and plant sap.
Aphids: Questions & Answers

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What kinds of trees grow in the Coconino National Forest?

  • Conifer trees of Coconino National Forest
  • Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii)
  • Blue spruce (Picea pungens)
  • Corkbark fir (Abies lasiocarpa var. arizonica)
  • Subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa var. lasiocarpa)
  • Bristle cone pine (Pinus aristida)
  • White fir (Abies concolor)
  • Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
  • Southwestern white pine (Pinus strobiformis)
  • Limber pine (Pinus flexilus)
  • Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)
  • Pinyon pine (Pinus edulis)
  • Single leaf pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla)
  • Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma)
  • Single seed juniper (Juniperus monosperma)
  • Red berry juniper (Juniperus coahuilensis)
  • Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum)
  • Alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana)
  • Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica)

This list does not include deciduous (broadleaf) trees, but there several of these interesting and exciting trees that grow in various habitats on the Forest.

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Is it legal to pick up arrowheads on national forests?

Collection of arrow heads is not allowed on National Forests. Doing so destroys the historical significance of the artifacts.

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Are guns permitted?

Yes. However, there are regulations and safety precautions that must be followed.

Federal Regulations for firearm use is the following (CFR, Title 36):

  • No shooting within a 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site or occupied area
  • No shooting across a road, trail or body of water, or in any manner or place whereby any person property is exposed to injury or damage as a result of such discharge
  • No shooting in a cave. For state law regarding firearm use please contact a state or local office to get the best information.

Arizona Restrictions (AZ Hunting Regulations, AZGF):

  • No shooting while hunting within one-quarter mile of any residence or building, or any other developed facility.
  • No shooting from a vehicle while hunting.

Safety Precautions:

  • The sound of gunfire can make people nervous, so stay comfortably away from other forest visitors while shooting.
  • Be certain of your target and what is behind your target.
  • Know the maximum range of your firearm and ammunition you're using.
  • Do not leave targets, shell casings or trash behind.
  • Do not use glass objects as targets.
  • Establish a "shooting lines" and safety rules if shooting with others.

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Is "Paintballing" Legal on the Coconino Forest?

Paintballing is allowed under the following conditions: you can't shoot across a road, trail or body of water and you can't jeopardize the safety of any person(s) that are not involved in the paintballing. You need to find a remote area to play. You need to pick up any litter and leave the area the way you found it. It is also a violation to shoot any signs or other property with paintballs.

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Can you provide any information on the "Aquifer" beneath the Mogollon Rim?

General information about the aquifer under the Mogollon Rim: The primary groundwater aquifer for wells is the Coconino Sandstone. It stretches from the Mogollon Rim northward to the Grand Canyon and is a reliable water bearing strata between Flagstaff and the Rim. At the rim, the depth to groundwater is about 600-700' and this gradually deepens the further north you go. In the City of Flagstaff area, wells in the Coconino Sandstone and groundwater are 1500'-1800' deep. If you are interested in the aquifer feeding the springs in the Rim area, most of those are fed from localized pockets of water in the fissures of the Kaibab Limestone, which is the geologic layer found on the surface of the Rim and sits on top of the Coconino Sandstone.

For more detailed information, please see the USGS publication available online at http://az.water.usgs.gov , click on the recent publication "Hydrogeology of the Mogollon Highlands, Central Arizona..." The document refers to the C aquifer, which is the Coconino Sandstone aquifer.

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Does Coconino National Forest have a policy on geocaches?

No. Currently there is no official policy related to geocaching on this national forest. There are, however, federal rules and regulations that pertain directly to geocashing.

Concerns and limitations include unauthorized burying or hiking in the alpine tundra, disturbance (digging and trampling) of sensitive soils (microbiotic crust at lower elevations), disturbance of archeological resources, disturbance of TE&S (Threatened and Endangered Species), and unauthorized use of motorized or mechanized equipment in wilderness areas.

No soil disturbance is permitted for any geocache placement on the Forest. Caches should be covered with leaves or woody debris if the geocacher chooses to screen the cache at the site.

Geocachers must remove their cache if the site receives a large number of visits by others as evidenced by a well-worn trail or path, as this disturbs soil and vegetation.

Caches should be removed after one year regardless of site activity and moved to a new location or removed from the national forest.

More information and regulations sited [Click Here]

Read an article printed in the Denver Post August 30, 2006 regarding Geocaching in the area around Denver, Colorado. (a 22kb .pdf file)

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What will be the effect of a long term drought on the pine forests?

The models are pretty consistent in predicting increased temperature and increased greenhouse gasses over the next 40 to 50 years but there aren't any good predictive models for precipitation. That makes it impossible to predict what may happen to the pine forest. One thing to remember is that we regularly experience drought and have experienced severe, prolonged droughts in the past and the pine forest is still here. If the drought persists, we expect to see increased mortality due to bark beetles and some pine trees dying from lack of moisture. We don't foresee losing the entire pine forest. A good resource for information is the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) at the University of Arizona. 

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I've heard the forest is for sale. Where do I get information on available parcels?

The FY 2007 President's budget proposes to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools program for another five years. To help fund this initiative, the Administration recommends selling a limited number of acres of National Forest System lands around the nation. Lands that are potentially eligible have been identified. Please [click here] for more information.

For information on the Sale of FS Lands see Does the Forest Service sell property?

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What about Equestrian use on the Forest?

While a few developed trails on the forest prohibit equestrian use, most roads and trails are open to your use of horses. The prohibited trails include the Humphreys Trail, the Inner Basin Trail in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness, and Elden Lookout Trail. We have a horse campground called Little Elden Springs Horse Camp, which is open until mid-October. 

Hunting units 11M and 7 are fairly high density recreation areas, especially when the fall colors are out, so if you ride your horse in these areas, stay alert. Units 5BN, 5BS, 6A, 5A, and the north end of 6B are much lower density and elk plentiful. These areas also have very good opportunities to "disperse camp" with horses. We ask that all campers, including horse campers, use Leave No Trace camping techniques. For people with horses this includes: using certified weed/seed-free feed, using highlines, hobbles, pickets, or portable corrals (which ever your animals are used to) for containing livestock when not being ridden; raking soil and natural forest litter (kicked up by people and horses) back into place when pulling out of camp; scattering manure piles and remnant hay so they break down naturally and leave the camp ready for the next group; don't tie your horse up to trees for more than 5-15 minutes, especially if your animals have a tendency to paw at the ground or chew on the trees; use a portable toilet or the "cat hole method" for the humans in the group; only collect dead and down wood for campfires and wood stoves or bring wood with you; etc. Also, haul plenty of water as many of our stock tanks are dry.Return to Top

What do I Have to do to mine (prospect) on the Coconino?

The Coconino National Forest is situated on mainly volcanic geology with very few streams. Gems and other valuable minerals (such as gold) are not known to commonly occur in this area. The few live streams we do have are mostly withdrawn from mineral entry to protect other resources.

All prospecting and mining activity on the National Forests is governed by Forest Service regulations 36 CFR 228. Generally, activities that do not cause surface disturbance (such as picking up rock samples) are allowed without any requirement to notify the Forest Service. For activities that cause surface disturbance (such as hole digging) or that use mechanized equipment (such as suction dredges), you may file a "Notice of Intent" with the local Ranger District. Some activities also require a “Plan of Operation”. You should allow at least 15 days for a response for a Notice of Intent and 30 days for an approval of a Plan of Operations.

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Can I use a Credit Card to pay for camping?

Campgrounds on the district take cash or Arizona checks, sorry, no credit cards. If you make reservations via the National Reservation System (Recreation.Gov) you can use a credit card.

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Is the sign correct at Bell Trail that says "No Trailers"?
The sign at the Bell Trailhead is correct in that we discourage trailers at this Trailhead. That is the reason we constructed the Bruce Brockett Trailhead for trailers and equestrian trailer parking and the trail from this trailhead connects to the Bell Trail.

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Can I gather wood near my campsite for a campfire?

Down and dead firewood may be gathered around your camping area for use at your campsite but it is illegal to load wood in a vehicle to take out of the Forest without a special permit. (You may not cut standing trees nor can you cut limbs off of standing trees.)

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Can I visit the fire tower lookouts?

In general, visits from the public are up to each lookout. For the most part, they're all pretty receptive to the public's visits. Generally, they'll allow people to climb up, show them around, but, if they're busy or want to spend their down-time alone, they may not allow visitors.

Some post their "visitation hours" at the gates at the bottom of the road, but a good rule of thumb is that if the gate is closed, it's a "No-Go".

Also, when the lookouts aren't staffed, the towers are off-limits to the public.

 

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Can I dispose of my RV graywater on forest land?

No. Failing to dispose of all garbage, including any paper, can, sewage, waste water or material, or rubbish either by removal the site or area, or by depositing it into receptacles or at places provided for such purposes can result in a fine. Please see Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Subpart A, 261.11(d), under "Sanitation".

 

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I have noticed what I perceive to be an unusually large and hungry population of "noseeums". What can be done?

Literature references indicate that no-see-um species found in Arizona and the southwest are of the genus Culicoides (family Ceratopogonidae). Adult no-see-ums are less than 1/16-inch long, can easily pass through normal window screens, and resemble a smaller, more compact version of the mosquito. They are most active in early mornings and evenings of mid to late summer. Mouth parts are well developed with elongated mandibles adapted for blood sucking. Both males and females feed on flower nectar but only the female feeds on blood. She must consume blood for her eggs to mature and become viable.

Bites of these tiny flies are painful and irritating. The bite usually starts as a small red welt (1/8” or so) or water-filled blister that itches. Once scratched, the welt can break open and bleed, but the itching usually continues. Allergic or sensitive individuals may develop long-lasting painful and itchy lesions. Bite treatments recommended by some dermatologists include topical cortisone creams and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Persons having severe reactions should consult a physician or dermatologist.

Called noseeum or cedar gnat... depends on who you talk to.

Information about these biting pests:

  • They need a small amount of barely moist soil to breed.
  • They usually hatch in early to mid June and last about a month.
  • The female is the biter and needs animal blood for the eggs.
  • A juniper (what locals call cedar but is not) is a perfect place for them to hatch in the soil.
  • Also they have a short range of only about 40 feet and never venture too far out.

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Can I swim in the lakes on the Coconino National Forest?

Yes, at your own risk. The lakes on this forest do not have sandy beaches and therefore are not conducive to swimming. The lake shores will either be very rocky or very muddy on your route to the water. Water quality is NOT monitored (except in Oak Creek Canyon) and there are no lifeguards.
 

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Can I reserve a campsite by parking a vehicle, placing a tent or other personal property on the forest in advance of occupying the site?

No, vehicles, personal property or other objects including tents left on the forest for the purpose of reserving a campsite or storing property is in violation of Title 36CFR 261.10(f)"Placing a vehicle or other object in such a manner that is an impediment or hazard to the safety or convenience of any person" The violation is a Class B Misdemeanor with a fine of $250. In addition leaving property unattended for 72-hours is considered abandon property under Title 36 261.10(e) "Abandoning personal property". Fine is $250 for a vehicle or structure and $100 for other objects. Vehicles and other personal property left unattended over 72-hours may be impounded by the Forest Service

Forest Officers experience increase violations during busy Holiday weekends and during the hunting season. To avoid a citation and/or impounding of your personal property do not leave property unattended in the forest.

 

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I heard the forest is closing. Where can I find information on that?

The Coconino Forest is NOT closing! But where you can drive IS changing. The Travel Management Rule (TMR) 2005, requires the designation of roads, trails and areas open to motor vehicle use on ALL National Forests and Grasslands.

Designated roads, trails and areas will be identified on the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM). Motor vehicle use off of the designated system is prohibited. Cross country travel is NOT allowed. (Any travel off of a designated road or trail is considered cross-country travel.)

For information on the decision-making process, see Travel Management Rule home page.

For an on-line version of the map and how to obtain a hard-copy see Motor Vehicle Use Maps.