Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is one of the largest natural reserves in the country, with over two million acres of land. The forest is most famous for the Mogollon Rim, which stands at a height of 7,600, looking over Arizona’s lowlands to the south. You’ll find hundreds of miles of hiking trails throughout the forest, taking you through ponderosa pine groves and sprawling lowlands. You can also climb up to one of the many lookout points, as well as connect to four National Recreation Trails.
With eight cold water lakes, there’s plenty to do out on the water. There are dozens of fishing areas throughout the forest, with a wide range of fish species including brown and rainbow trout, Arctic grayling, and smallmouth bass. Hunting is allowed throughout much of the forest, with big game species such as elk, deer, and black bear.
There are over a dozen RV campgrounds throughout Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Campgrounds vary widely in terms of amenities, with some offering only bare bones sites while others have fully modern sites. Read on to get the scope on three featured RV campgrounds.
Located in eastern Arizona, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is within driving distance of all of the state’s major cities, as well as from Albuquerque. Road conditions throughout the forest vary widely, with some campgrounds requiring you to drive on tight, narrow roads.
If you are driving from Phoenix, take AZ-87 north to AZ-260 and you will get to the forest in around two and a half hours. From Tucson, take I-10 to AZ-87 and you’ll arrive in just under four hours. Coming from Albuquerque, drive west on I-40 out of the city and you’ll reach the forest in four and a half hours.
With over two million acres of land, the forest has a wide range of road types, some easier to drive than others. If you have a large rig, you should consider choosing one of the main campgrounds on the edge of the forest or near well trafficked roads, as this will make your drive easier.
This is a large camgpround with 106 sites, 32 of which have electrical hookups. The sites all have fire pits and picnic tables, and you’ll have access to flush and vault toilets, as well as drinking water. The campground is one of the best for those interested in hiking near the Mogollon Rim, one of the forest’s most famous natural wonders. It’s also close to Willow Springs Lake, where you’ll find excellent fishing and boating. RVs, trailers, and campers up to 75 feet long can be accommodated.
This campground has 92 sites, many of which have electrical, water, and sewer hookups. RVs, campervans, and trailers up to 45 feet long can be accommodated. All of the sites have a fire pit and a picnic table, and you’ll be within walking distance of modern restrooms and showers. The campground provides easy access to excellent fishing, boating, and swimming, and you’ll be within walking distance of a number of hiking trails.
Open from May to October, this campground, with over 90 sites, is one of the most popular in the forest. All of the sites have a picnic table and a fire pit, as well as access to modern restrooms and showers. Keep in mind that no hookups are available. With an elevation of 8,300 feet, the campground stays cool during the summer. You’ll be within walking distance of Greer Lake, which has large populations of rainbow, cutthroat, brown, and brook trout. RVs and trailers up to 32 feet long are permitted to camp here.
Hiking is the main attraction to the forest, with nearly 1,000 miles of trails leading through the ponderosa pine groves and scenic lowlands. There is a trail for everyone, from kids to more experienced hikers. Some of the most popular trails in the park are near Mogollon Rim, which rises 7,600 feet, giving you beautiful views of the surrounding area. Hiking is excellent throughout the year, although you should try to get an early start if you hike during the summer, as temperatures can become blistering around noon.
With eight main bodies of water, as well as dozens of streams and small ponds, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest has a wide range of fishing opportunities. Rainbow trout are the most common species in the forest’s waters, and you’ll also find other species such as brown trout, Arctic grayling, and smallmouth bass. If you plan on fishing any of the public bodies of water in the forest, you’ll need an Arizona state fishing license, which can be purchased online.
Don't forget to pack those binoculars in your Airsteam. Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, making it a great area for wildlife viewing. You’ll be able to see antelope, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, and wild turkey, in addition to a range of smaller amphibians and reptiles. You’ll also be able to see many different types of waterfowl on the forest’s more than 400 streams. Do take caution while hiking during snake season running spring through early fall, as rattlesnakes can be found in many areas of the park.
You might want to pack a telescope in your rig. The lowlands of Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest are some of the most remote in the state, making for excellent stargazing. There is little light pollution in the more secluded areas of the forest, so you’ll have clear skies as you stare up at the constellations. You can also visit the Apache-Sitgreaves Observatory, where you’ll find educational opportunities and guided stargazing tours. Check their website for current times, as the schedule changes throughout the year.
With a wide variety of terrain types, dramatic elevation changes, and hundreds of bodies of water, the forest attracts a range of bird species. You’ll be able to spot various birds of prey, including osprey, bald eagle, northern goshawk, and red-tailed hawk. Other notable species include northern flicker, pinon jay, marsh wren, Bell’s vireo, and great horned owl. There is a dedicated audubon society that provides more information on the birds found in the forest. You can also find other resources online, including field guides and bird checklists.
Many of the trails Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest are also open to mountain biking. With a wide variety of terrain types, you’ll be able to explore the lowlands and ride across one of the more than 400 streams in the forest. The elevation changes by almost 7,000 feet, so experienced riders will find a number of challenging climbs. Most of the mountain biking trails in the park are shared with hikers, so take caution, especially when coming around tight corners.