Recreation Planning in the Sky Islands

The Coronado National Forest spans sixteen scattered mountain ranges or "sky islands" that rise dramatically from the desert floor. Recreation opportunities range from wilderness backpacking to lakeside picnicking. The Forest hosts over 2.3 million visits each year.

The Coronado National Forest works to provide outstanding recreation experiences while balancing the multiple-use values of the land. In this interactive map, we ask for your input about selected areas around the Forest: Pena Blanca Lake, the Huachuca Mountains, Cochise Stronghold, Cave Creek Canyon, and Mount Graham/Swift Highway. How can we improve or maintain recreation experiences in these places? We want to hear your perspective on the successes, concerns, and opportunities for each distinctive place.

View the Interactive StoryMap

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The Future of Recreation in the Sky Islands Interactive StoryMap

Areas Under Evaluation

Cochise Stronghold, Douglas Ranger District

Granite domes, stunning trails, and ample camping opportunities make this rocky wonderland on the Douglas Ranger District, rich with history, a fascinating day or overnight recreation destination. The eastern side offers developed camping and two rentable cabins, while the less developed west side offers dispersed opportunities. Both are renowned with rock climbers.

Cochise Stronghold


Northern Chiricahua Mountains, Douglas Ranger District

The colorful cliffs and cool creek of the majestic Cave Creek Canyon, nestled at 5,000 feet on the eastern slopes of the Chiricahua Mountains, invite you to experience the amazing beauty and biological diversity any time of year. Campgrounds, a visitor center, trails, and rentable cabins are highlights. FS42 provides access to the high country including Rustler Park Campground as well as popular dispersed camping spots in Pinery Canyon.

Northern Chiricahua Mountains


Pena Blanca Lake, Nogales Ranger District

This medium-sized lake fills nearly 50 acres of Peña Blanca Canyon in the foothills of the Atascosa and Pajarito Mountains and is located in the Nogales Ranger District. It is surrounded by grassy, oak-dotted hills. The recreation area offers a boat launch, floating fishing docks, a small campground, and picnic areas.

Pena Blanca Lake


Mount Graham and the Pinaleño Mountains, Safford Ranger District

The Swift Trail leads up the slopes of the Pinaleño Mountains to the forested high country in the Gila Valley’s backyard, while Highway 266 and other routes to lead to low deserts and woodlands. Mount Graham is the highest of the Sky Islands on the Coronado; it is part of the Safford Ranger District.

Mount Graham


Huachuca Mountains, Sierra Vista Ranger District

Rising abruptly above Sierra Vista, these steep forested mountains offer several canyons each with a distinct character. Carr Canyon offers picnic sites and high elevation camping, while Brown Canyon features an historic ranch. Others including Miller, Ash and Hunter are outstanding entry points for the Miller Peak Wilderness.

Huachuca Mountains