The Apache and Sitgreaves National Forests, administered as one National Forest, encompass over two million acres of magnificent mountain country in east-central Arizona.On the Sitgreaves, the major attractions are the Mogollon Rim and the string of man-made lakes. From the Rim's 7600-foot elevation, vista points provide inspiring views of the low country to the south and west. The Mogollon Rim (pronounced: muggy-own) extends two hundred miles from Flagstaff into western New Mexico.
The Apache National Forest ranges in elevation from 3,500 feet to nearly 11,500 feet and is named for the tribes that settled in this area. The area from Mount Baldy east to Escudilla Mountain is often referred to as the White Mountains of Arizona. From the edge of the Mogollon Rim south of Hannagan Meadow the land drops precipitously into the high desert around Clifton.
The Wilderness Areas (Mount Baldy, Escudilla, and Bear Wallow) and the Blue Range Primitive Area make the Apache one of America's premier backcountry Forests. The Apache is also noted for its trout streams and high-elevation lakes and meadows.
The Apache-Sitgreaves has 34 lakes and reservoirs and more than 680 miles of rivers and streams -- more than can be found in any other Southwestern National Forest. The White Mountains contain the headwaters of several Arizona rivers including the Black, the Little Colorado, and the San Francisco.
The forest is also considered one of the top forests in the nation for fishing. The Apache-Sitgreaves contains over 450 miles of streams and nearly 2,000 surface acres of cold water lakes. Fish species include Arctic Grayling, Rainbow, German Brown, Brook, Apache, and Cutthroat trout.
Finding a scenic drive on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is as easy as pointing to any spot on the Forest map and taking a drive.
The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests offer almost 1,000 miles of trails across a variety of terrain. These trails are built to different standards depending upon who is the intended user and the difficulty level. Recreation opportunities abound for horseback riding, mountain biking, camping, and hiking.
The Forest has four National Recreation Trails: Eagle, Blue Ridge, Escudilla, and General George Crook. The Forest does offer several barrier-free trails, including; Mogollon Rim Interpretative Trail and Pintail Lake Wetland.
The Apache-Sitgreaves provides habitat for over 400 species of wildlife. The forest is home to most big game animals, such as antelope, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and turkey, as well as a variety of songbirds, waterfowl, small mammals, fish, amphibians and reptiles. A lucky wildlife viewer may catch sight of a mountain lion, a black bear, or the newly re-introduced Mexican gray wolf.
The Sitgreaves was named for Captain Lorenzo Sitgreaves, a government topographical engineer who conducted the first scientific expedition across Arizona in the early 1850's. The Apache National Forest is named after the tribes that settled in the area.
The Forest has a fascinating heritage with many archeological resources. On the Forest, prehistoric site types range from the remains of hunting and plant collecting areas to large pueblos with enclosed plazas, much like those seen today at Hopi and Zuni. Rock shelter and cave sites are found in the steeper canyons of the Mogollon Rim and along the Blue River. Rock art, both painted pictographs and carved or etched petroglyphs, are scattered throughout the Forests.
Most of the rock art dates between 900 and 600 years ago. An example of the painted style of about 900 years ago can be seen along the Black Canyon Auto Tour. An example of petroglyphs from about 800 years ago can be seen at Blue Crossing Campground.