The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest proves that Arizona is more than desert and red rocks — this high-elevation landscape offers 2 million acres of rugged mountains, sparkling blue lakes, pristine meadows, and exposed ridges. The unit consists of two national forests and multiple recreation areas stretching from the Mogollon Rim to the White Mountains. Summer brings sunny days and refreshing juniper-scented breezes while winter in the high country draws snow-sports enthusiasts from around the state. Whenever you visit, you'll be greeted with panoramic views and activities including hiking, biking, fishing, and swimming.
With so many wilderness areas to explore, RV camping is a fun way to experience the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest — just get behind the wheel and head to your next campsite. If you don't have an RV, RVshare makes it easy to rent a model with all of the beds and features you need for a luxury camping vacation.
Stay close to the beautiful Mogollon Rim at the Rim Campground. A short hike from your site, you can see for more than 100 miles. This campground offers 26 sites; some can be reserved in advance while others are first-come, first-served. Your nightly fee gives you a fire pit, a grill, and a picnic table. This is a Forest Service campground, so there are no hookups, but you'll find drinking water, trash collection, and vault toilets a short walk from camp. Sites are $18 per night.
Stay near the western edge of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest at Oxbow RV Park, which is located in Payson. Drive your RV into a campsite tucked under tall trees, and enjoy the peaceful, family-friendly setting. All of the sites come with full hookups, cable TV, a picnic table, and a grill, so you can relax completely after a day of adventure. The campground offers bathrooms, hot showers, and a laundry room. Rates start at $45 per night with discounts for weekly and monthly stays.
Sleep just minutes from hiking, fishing, and boating opportunities at the Sinkhole Campground. Pull into one of the 26 sites in the ponderosa-pine forest and enjoy the shade and cool breezes. In addition to private picnic tables and fire rings, your site comes with access to drinking water and vault toilets. Willow Springs Lake is just 1 mile away. Sites range from $20 to $22 per night depending on the time of year.
Escape the desert heat at the Arizona High Country Campground, which offers warm, beautiful summer weather. Located near the northeastern side of the forest, this spot offers everything you need for a comfortable trip, including Wi-Fi, hot showers, clean bathrooms, and full hookups. If you need a propane refill, you can buy it at the camp store. Ten of the campsites offer pull-through access for big rigs. The campground is open from April to October, and rates start at $35 per night.
If you have time for just one hike, or if you're looking for an easy excursion, check out the Mogollon Rim Interpretive Trail. Half of the trail is flat and paved, so it's a great option for strollers, wheelchairs, and kids. Along the way, you'll see beautiful views over the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest; make sure to check out the informative markers that offer facts about local history, geology, and plant life.
Length: 1 mile round-trip
Popular with hikers, bikers, and equestrians, the Panorama Trail makes a fantastic day hike. The route travels through pine forests and up to observation points with wide, sweeping views. For the best vistas, hike up to the Twin Knolls. This trail is accessible for most of the year, but conditions are best from spring to early winter.
Length: 8 miles
If you're up for a fun challenge, spend a few hours on the West Fork Black River Trail. At first, the path takes you along a canyon rim; then, it dips steeply down to the bottom of the canyon and along the river. Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated on the climb back up to the trailhead.
Length: 2.5 miles
Experience part of the history of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests on the Railroad Grade Trail. It's located on a former railroad grade, which means that you can expect mild slopes and plenty of space to walk side by side. As you travel, enjoy the views of the forest and the surrounding White Mountains. There are four different trailheads along the route — create your own out-and-back hike, or leave a vehicle at one of the trailheads to enable a one-way trip.
Length: 21 miles
Escape the Arizona summer heat at the popular Butler Canyon Trail. It takes you down into a well-shaded, breezy canyon and along a small stream. The trail is short, so many hikers take their time to enjoy the cool air and take in in the natural beauty.
Length: 1 mile
Create your own hike on the trail system at Pole Knoll Recreation Area. In the winter, the trails are popular with cross-country skiers; the rest of the year, you can enjoy the well-marked routes and craft your own easy, moderate, or strenuous hike. The trails wind through a forest studded with pine, spruce, fir, and aspen; they're stunning when the leaves change in the fall.
Intensity: Easy to Strenuous
If you're after a pure wilderness experience, check out the West Baldy Trail. To maintain the natural environment, it's closed to bikes, motorized vehicles, and groups of more than 12 people. The first 2 miles are often crowded, particularly on weekends, but the levels drop down significantly by mile 3. With 2,200 feet of elevation gain, the trail offers a pleasant challenge; you'll also enjoy views of Mount Baldy. The mountain is on the White Mountain Apache Reservation, so it's off-limits to hikers. Do the entire out-and-back trip as a long day hike, or park a car at the end of the trail to use as a return shuttle.
Length: 14 miles round-trip
The trail network is the most popular way to see the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Some routes are open only to hikers while others welcome bikers and equestrians.
The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is home to many different plant and wildlife species. Hannagan Meadow, the Escudilla Wilderness, and the Bear Wallow Wilderness are great places to see the scenery and the local critters.
When the weather is warm, rent a boat and head to Luna Lake, Willow Springs Lake, Fool Hollow Lake, and Scott Reservoir. Hop on the Blue River Trail to Hannah Hot Springs for a fun wilderness dip; you can also swim in the cool pool nearby. For kayaking and canoeing, check out Black Canyon Lake, Woods Canyon Lake, and the many reservoirs in the forest.
In the winter, try ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. If you have little ones, check out the Toboggan Hill sledding area in the Williams Valley Recreation Area.
Geocachers will enjoy plenty of fun hunts in this diverse ecosystem.
Address: 30 S. Chiricahua Dr., Springerville, AZ 85938
Fee: Entry Fee
The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests offer a fun, exciting getaway any time of year whether you're escaping the summer heat or looking for a snowy winter escape. Come ready to relax under the trees, or bring your sense of adventure for hiking, biking, swimming, geocaching, and winter sports. By bringing an RV, you'll be ready to embrace everything this massive area brings in rain, snow, or shine.