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.