Flagstaff, AZ

Red Rocks, Pine Forest, Desert Landscape, and Alpine Tundra all in one Place - Coconino National Forest

Anne Bonfert

Coconino National ForestTaven Hash/ Unsplash

Arizona is as diverse in nature as a region can be. From desert landscapes, to rushing rivers and snow on the mountains you can find it all in this State. And that is why the country is so popular. All kinds of adventurers and adrenaline junkies are traveling every year to different parks and regions of Arizona to spend their holidays.

One specific area in the vicinity of Flagstaff has more than one can expect at a place. Coconino National Forst has a huge variety of landscape features ranging from desert landscapes, over pine forests to alpine tundra. The park has been established in 1898 and was originally named "San Francisco Mountains National Forest Reserve". It borders many other parks such as the Kaibab National Forest and the Tonto National Forest.

Landscape features of Coconino National Forest are as diverse as the State itself. The red rocks of Sedona are to be seen from far. Flatlands and alpine tundra are other characteristics of the landscape and endless pine forests are covering the land. Some peaks are standing tall showing ancient volcanic activity.

The elevation of Coconino National Forest ranges from just under 3,000 feet at the southern part of the forest up to 12,600 feet on the summit of Humphreys Peak which is at the same time the highest point of the State of Arizona. Most of the pine forest is located at a high altitude plateau on about 7,000 feet. This forest is also the largest contiguous pine forest in North America.

Several lakes are also part of the forest landscape. Some of them carrying water all year round while others only get filled after the rains. Some remind you more of a wetland or meadow than an actual lake.

Sycamore Canyon, the second-largest canyon of Arizona is located in the national forest attracting many visitors each year. Endless hiking trails bring hikers and mountain bikers up into the forest exploring nature and wildlife in the area.

The most popular recreational activities are hiking, wildlife watching, and skiing in the land of mountains, forests, and lava flows. The ever-changing landscapes are attractive to the eye and offer lots of variety to visitors. Other options to get closer to nature are horseback riding, sliding down natural water slides, camping, and fishing.

Coconino National Forest is a great place not just for a day excursion but for overnight stays as well. There are countless campgrounds throughout the park. Some offering more, some less comfort. But there is something for everyone. Plan your trip in advance and reserve a slot for you before the best sites are fully booked.


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I am a traveler. Photographer. Writer. Teacher. Skydiving instructor. Adventure enthusiast. Nature lover. And fell in love with the African continent. My stories go around travel, nature and all kinds of adventurous activities.


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