Set on a calm lake surrounded by towering Ponderosa pine and shaggy junipers, the campground at Fool Hollow lets visitors get a taste of the natural beauty which the Mogollon Rim has to offer. Sitting at 6300’, the park exemplifies the forests – high and dry but rich with life – which can be found across much of northern Arizona.
Anglers will never find themselves bored at Fool Hollow, which offers several fishing piers and is richly stocked with a variety of freshwater species. Boating and swimming are available to those who’d rather be on, or in, the cool water. Hikers can walk a trail which wraps around the lake’s shore, or, if they’d like more miles under their belt, they can use the park as a launching place from which to explore the many dozens of miles of nearby trails which weave their way through Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
The park’s interpretive talks, junior ranger programs and multiple playgrounds mean that the whole family should be able to stay plenty occupied. And, if you’re planning a reunion or family gathering, take advantage of one of the park’s newly built picnic ramadas, which feature tables, outdoor grills and ample space for whoever’s on the guest list (plus a great lake view – of course!)
For RV travelers, the park boasts over 130 lovely, pine-shaded sites, many of which have full hook-ups available. Reservations are taken through the Arizona State Parks website.
Fool Hollow State Park is directly adjacent to the town of Show Low, Arizona, which is a full-service town of about 10,000 people. Show Low is accessible from many directions via major roads, though most visitors will probably utilize either Hwy 60 or Arizona State Route 260; once you’ve made it to Show Low, you’ll head a short distance through town until you are on Fools Hollow Rd. Following the road straight will lead you to the park’s densely packed day-use area, which has shelters, picnic tables, fishing piers, restrooms and ample parking. Taking a right after entering the park will lead you part way around the lake and put you in the park’s camping area.
Roads to and within the park are paved and relatively flat. Be cognizant of the possibility for snowstorms during winter; though not very far from hot, sunny Phoenix, the park’s elevation means it can and does receive a fair share of powder.
The camping area consists of seven interconnected loops, with three on the east side and four on the west. All spots are back in, and some tight areas around the loops can make for tricky maneuvering; but, if you’ve heeded the park’s maximum length suggestion (40 ft.) you should be fine.
The campground at Fool Hollow is shaded by pine and juniper and sits right on Fool Hollow Lake. There are 133 RV suitable sites in total, which are spread over seven interconnected loops. Site amenities run the gamut, from primitive (no hookup) to full hookup (50 amp electric, water and sewage). A dump station is located at the entrance of the loop system, and there are several modern restrooms, some of which have showers. The park’s amphitheater and a playground can also be found within the bounds of the campground, while fishing docks, a boat launch and the hiking trail are all just a short walk away.
Firewood and some other basic supplies are available at the park store, which is just on the other side of the lake. And, for any other supplies or amenities you might need, the full service town of Show Low is right outside the park.
All sites are reservable. Although some sites have long cement pads, the park recommends no vehicles above 40 feet in length.
Fool Hollow Lake is richly stocked and provides ample opportunities for anglers. Six fishing platforms can be found around the lake’s edge, though visitors are also free to walk the shore and find their own perfect spot. Though relatively small in size, Fool Hollow teems with a diversity of fish; large and smallmouth bass, green sunfish, bluegill, channel catfish, and walleye can all be pulled from the water. Of course, make sure you have an Arizona State fishing license before casting.
Whether you’re searching for a better fishing spot or just looking to relax in the middle of a cool lake on a hot day, take advantage of the boating opportunities at Fool Hollow. Two launches provide easy access. Paddle out and explore the cluster of “wildlife islands” at the southern tip of the water, or head to where the Show Low Creek feeds into the placid lake.
All non-motorized craft are allowed, while motorized craft must have gasoline engines limited to 10 horsepower. Rentals – including kayaks, canoes and paddleboards – are available from a concessionaire within the park during summer months.
A newly-built amphitheater set conveniently in the campground provides a marvelous setting for some of the park’s frequently-held interpretive programs. After a long day of hiking, fishing or exploring, head over to the interpretive area to learn about the region’s ecology and history. Fool Hollow also participates in the Arizona State Parks Junior Ranger program; kids ages 6-12 can receive fun, educational activity books from park headquarters. Once they’ve filled out their books and proven what they’ve learned, they can be sworn in as official Junior Rangers (and receive a Junior Ranger button, of course).
The one and a half-mile Fool Hollow walking trail skirts the edge of the lake and offers visitors a chance to observe native plants and wildlife while enjoying an easy, flat stroll. For those looking to explore farther-flung rivers and fields and delve deeper into the region’s pine-clad mountains, there are over 100 miles of nearby hiking trails waiting. The park is surrounded by Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, and numerous trailheads can be found within fifteen miles of Fool’s Hollow (many are part of the White Mountain Trail System). While summer is the busiest season, spring offers lovely wildflower viewing and fall weather is consistent and mild.
Visitors to Fool Hollow may recognize a pattern in the titles of its campground loops, which are each named after one of the many avian species which frequents the area: Rudy Duck, Redhead, Cinnamon Teal, Mallard, Osprey and Northern Harrier. These birds, however, represent just a fraction of the wildlife species that can be found at Fool’s Hollow and within the upland pine forests of the Mogollon Rim. Look out in all seasons for elk, deer, bobcat, black bear, porcupine and fox, which frequent the park’s woods and fields; if it’s warm, you may spot a collared lizard, horned lizard, or rattlesnake slinking across the needle-covered forest floor.
The Mogollon Rim area is steeped in Wild West and Native American history, and Fool Hollow’s central location makes it an excellent place from which to explore the region’s historical sites and museums.
Visit the nearby Show Low Historical Society Museum and learn how the town came to have its unusual name (a unique statue in the center of town also commemorates the supposed naming event). Fort Apache National Historic Park is just an hour’s drive away, as is the White Mountain Apache Cultural Center.