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2021 Dutchmen Aspen Trail Great for the pines "HIGHMOUNTAINCAMPING"
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The 100-year-old massive Coconino National Forest sprawls out over more than 1.8 million acres in northern Arizona just south of Flagstaff. The terrain here varies, offering dessert at lower altitudes, but as you climb up, a rich forest is budding with life. Since it is so large, the Coconino National Forest is split into three distinct ranger districts (Flagstaff, Mogollon Rim, and Red Rock). Each area is home to some pretty rad natural wonders that you may not think that exist in this type of environment.
Consider booking an RV rental to Coconino National Forest to see the decades of growth and development this land has endured. In 1908, President Roosevelt officially consolidated what was the San Francisco Mountains National Forest combing parts of the Black Mesa and Tonto National Forest, all of the Grand Canyon National Forest south and east of the Colorado River into what is now the Coconino National Forest. Making up one of six national forests in Arizona, there’s much to be enjoyed by all people and never a lack of space.
Take your camper rental to each Ranger District if you have the time and explore what's around. Each one is different than the other, with some similarities.
Within the Flagstaff district, you’ll find the dominant San Francisco Peaks towering a whopping 12,643 feet. It may look intimidating, but there are a variety of trails for all experience levels that’ll take you to various summit points for some incredible views. If you look closely, you may be able to spot some elk, bald eagles, osprey, and pronghorns. The largest Arizonian natural lake, Mormon Lake, also sits within Flagstaff. The lake is shallow and only seasonally filled with water with an average depth of only 10 feet. Swimming, fishing, and boating are permitted.
The radiant Red Rock district displays a stunning, colorful array of buttes, pinnacles, mesas, and canyons. Located within Sedona, this location has been an inspiration for western novels and movies, as well as the perfect spot to snap some pictures. Hiking is popular here, then when finished go cool off with a dip in Oak Creek. There’s even a natural waterslide for a bout of childish fun.
Rugged and wild, the Mogollon Rim district forms the southern limit of the Colorado Plateau. The views from the mountains stretch some of the furthest found in the state. You’ll be awestruck by what you can find after setting foot on the trails. There are a couple of lakes open to the public for boating, fishing, and swimming.
No matter the Ranger District of your choosing, Coconino National Forest campers won’t be left without something to do. And, if you happen to be in the area during the winter season, you can expect an average seasonal snowfall of 108 inches just on the flatlands. Winter sports are aplenty.
Each Ranger District within the Coconino National Forest has several campgrounds for you to spend a night under the stars. Your RV rental is welcome at select campgrounds, and the available amenities vary by location. You will have access to showers, restrooms, and water, as well as the entire forest. You won’t find this type of natural accommodations everywhere; this is truly a special place.
But, if for whatever reason you decide that staying directly in the forest isn’t the best option for you, there are several campground options in surrounding Coconino County. You’ll have the forest still just off in the distance. Make this trip as inclusive or rustic as you’d like.
The closest largest metropolitan area to Coconino National Forest would be Flagstaff. With summer temps staying in the low 80s, you’ll be in absolute comfort here no matter the season. The city loves to host events and festivals of all kinds. The calendar is filled with exciting happenings, just check to see which ones align with your RV rental trip here. There are several historic spots, an adventure course, an arboretum, and an incredibly inviting downtown. With ample eateries and bars, your evenings will be exciting and your days spent in the forest.
When you know you’ll be in town for a while, the state’s capital city, Phoenix, is an easy two-hour drive south. Museums are in numbers here; learn about musical instruments, art, science, or some of the local things that make Phoenix what it is. For the kids, take them to the zoo, aquarium, amusement park, or outdoor water park. Of course, this is just a shortlist. There is so much to be discovered here, and you may even opt to spend more than a day before retreating back to Coconino National Forest.