The Flagstaff Ranger District encompasses nearly 850,000 acres of National Forest lands around the Flagstaff area, from Mormon Lake and Anderson Mesa to north of the San Francisco Peaks. At 12,633 feet, the San Francisco Peaks is not only the dominant feature of the forest area we call the Volcanic Highlands, it's also the highest mountain in Arizona. Three of the summits that ring this dormant volcano's now quiet inner caldera are higher than any other mountain in the state.
This mountain is sacred to the native peoples that live in the area and its soaring profile set against a blue Arizona sky serves as a source of awe to contemporary residents and visitors. Views from the summit of the San Francisco Peaks stretch to the Grand Canyon's North Rim over eighty miles away. Hiking, sightseeing, wildlife watching and skiing are the predominant recreation activities enjoyed in this land of mountains, forests and lava flows.
Flagstaff Ranger District, extends from north of the Peaks to the south. This rolling highland is a land of ponderosa pine forests and pinyon/juniper woodlands clustered around broad prairies and small lakes. Arizona's largest natural lake, Mormon Lake, is located here. The area is also known for its plentiful wildlife. Large herds of elk roam the forests and edgelands. Bald eagles and ospreys live and hunt around the lakes. Pronghorn antelope graze the prairies.
Principal recreation activities among the lakes and prairies are boating, fishing, camping, and wildlife watching. The area also boasts some excellent cross-country skiing in good snow years.
The lakes are open year-round. In the warmer months (early May through early October), a fee is required to use the day-use areas, which are managed by a concessionaire. Visit individual sites for details and photos.
Upper Lake Mary is the largest of Flagstaff's twin lakes. This long, narrow reservoir is especially popular with power boaters and water skiers because there is no motor size limit on it. It's also popular with those who prefer people-power or windpower over horsepower. For those who like fishing, the lake has northern pike, channel cat, crappie, and some trout.
Lower Lake Mary is the smaller of Flagstaff's twin lakes. It has a tendency to disappear during the long dry spells that periodically hit this area. When the lake has water, its banks are usually lined with anglers trying to catch the trout which the Arizona Game and Fish Department stocks here. If it stays full for a year or two, it will pick up a population of northern pike and catfish.
The Mogollon Rim is a rugged escarpment that forms the southern limit of the Colorado Plateau. It extends across the entire forest and provides excellent views within Plateau Country and Desert Canyon Country as well. Dropping as much as 2,000 feet in some areas, the Rim provides some of the most far-reaching scenery in Arizona. Views stretch from its rocky precipice to Four Peaks of the Mazatzals northeast of Phoenix.
Needless to say, sightseeing is a favorite activity along the Rim, but this forest area also boasts a historic system of hiking and horseback trails, a couple of picturesque lakes for boating and fishing, and backcountry skiing for wilderness adventurers. The Mogollon Rim is home to Camp Colley, an outdoor adventure camp at Little Moqui, run by the City of Phoenix, Parks and Recreation.
The photo above (see larger view) was taken by Mark Hickcox, Civil Engineer Tech on the Mogollon Rim District, from the Hutch Mountain Lookout Tower in the summer of 2011. It is looking south-east toward Long Lake.
Recreation activities for the Mogollon Rim District: