Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Mogollon Rim

View from the Mogollon Rim 5
The Mogollon Rim, a place we visit frequently, is a fantastic rock plateau that runs approximately 200 miles and forms the southern part of the Colorado Plateau in east central Arizona. It is a place full of rich history, abundant wildlife and picturesque landscapes that offers an abundance of outdoor recreational activities. At every turn you will find campsites and hiking trails, and there are seven lakes across three national parks; Coconino, Tonto, and Sitgreaves. It is a great change of pace from the Sonoran Desert we live in. On a hot summer day (or weekend) nothing beats leaving behind the cactus and creosote for a ride through the cool ponderosa pines of the upper rim. What can I say about the Mogollon Rim? It is one of our favorite places to visit and an amazing place to explore. 

Forest_0784We camp there often throughout the warm months. Camp sites are abundant on the rim. There are organized campgrounds, with a variety of facilities and amenities. Most of these, but not all, are nearest the lakes, and for a small fee you can set up camp, use the bathrooms, showers, grills, etc. Some have utility hookups and most observe the standard 14 day limit for a small fee. The Payson Rim Country website has a great listing of all of these, their features, fees and specifics. Be sure to check for closures and fire restrictions before you go as there have been a couple of devastating fires (very sad) that have affected some areas. 

View from the Mogollon Rim 6

Mogollon Rim, Forest Road #501If you chose, as we do, to rough it, the Rim offers many great opportunities. Heading west on rim road from highway 87, nearly every road we have explored has multiple good places to set up camp. On our last couple of trips we found some nice, secluded sites to stay that already had a fire pit (luckily, no fire restrictions at that time), and nice flat clearings for our tents. And at one, a previous visitor had left his nicely placed anchors in some trees, perfect for a canopy. We found these sites on forest road #320 - 9 miles in on rim road, and on forest road #501 - 10.4 miles in on rim road (from the 87). Rim road is periodically maintained; it has some wash-boarding and potholes, but is passable (though not recommended) by car. One should be advised though that some of the side roads require good clearance, and others 4 wheel drive. However you choose to camp, I doubt you will be disappointed. The drive along rim road provides some breathtaking views. We stopped several times just to take it all in and take some photos.


Fungi_0780The great thing about taking photos on the rim is there is really no bad time of day to snap a few shots. Even during midday, the sunlight peaks through the heavily tree'd areas and creates some unique shadowing. The ferns, wildflowers, moss and mushrooms glow brilliantly in the sun. In the late afternoon, the cliffs of the rim radiate warm oranges and reds that contrast well against the green fields below and the cool blue sky above. If you are lucky, you might catch some beautiful cloud formations. Keep a sharp eye out for wildlife too, especially at night. We have been visited by a mother raccoon and her 7-8 babies and been accosted by squirrels dropping pine cones on our heads. Deer and elk are also abundant as well as many other animals.

Various Corrals 2
For the rockhounds in the crowd coral fossils litter the ground in some areas, including where we camped. Some of these are agatized and/or crystalized inside. We found some great specimens with little effort. Gold, silver and copper have been mined in the area, and I've read that placer gold has been found near the Clifton/Morenci District, the San Francisco River and the Gila River. At the Federal level, national parks currently do not specify any mineral collection restrictions (except for mining), though the local district office for the park may have a policy regarding rockhounding. We have searched for personal collecting restrictions in this area and have found none.

Whatever your reason for visiting the Mogollon Rim I am sure you will enjoy your visit, we always do. Before you go though, be sure to check for fire restrictions and area closures. If you do go, please share with us your experience, we would love to hear from you.


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