Prescott National Forest offers over 1.25 million acres of land that spans across elevations ranging from 3,000 to 8,000 feet. The forest was established in 1898 as the Prescott Forest Reserve. Initially, it covered only 16 sections of land near Prescott. Over the years, the forest expanded, eventually reaching Granite Mountain in the north and, in the south, Black Canyon City. In 1908 the Prescott Forest Reserve merged with the Verde National Forest and was renamed Prescott National Forest. Encompassing everything from desert to mountains, Prescott offers something for every traveler while preserving the stunning natural resources of the area.
This loop trail is composed of three connected trails winding through the Granite Mountain Wilderness. This loop takes hikers from gently sloping grasslands to massive granite formations.
Length: 10.1 miles
Ponderosa Trail #382 is an in and out trail that leads hikers through a forest of pine trees alongside a scenic little creek.
Length: 1.6 miles
Located within the Granite Basin Recreation Area, this heavily used trail takes visitors on a gentle trip through the Basin. Beginning with a walk through the ponderosa pines, hikers will move onto a rocky landscape with excellent views of Granite Mountain. This trail can be used by both hikers and mountain bikers.
Length: 2 miles
Open to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders, the Balancing Rock Trail takes visitors on a wandering journey through a forest of pines studded with granite boulders. Some sections wander near small babbling creeks, and as you hike up the trail a bit more, you will enjoy stunning vistas of Granite Mountain.
Length: 5.7 miles
This trail starts from the Cayuse Equestrian trailhead and leads hikers through a forested area filled with large ponderosa pines and alligator juniper. The trail intersects several times with a creek. Usually dry, the creek bed itself is lined with dense vegetation.
Length: 2.9 miles
Located just a half-mile from downtown Prescott, Arizona, the Almosta Trail #622 takes hikers on a trip through gently rolling fields and across hillsides dotted with juniper, pinyon pines, and scrub jays. This hike also offers stunning views of Baby Granite and Granite Mountain.
Length: 3.8 miles
Offering visiting anglers four lakes and eight Verde River access sites, Prescott National Forest is the perfect place to drop a line and test your fishing skills. If you’re looking for some lake fishing, cast your line at Lynx Lake. You might catch some trout, bass, or crappie. The Verde River features warmer waters where catfish and sunfish are plentiful. Those fishing the Verde during cooler months might even catch some rainbow trout.
While visitors participate in geocaching within Prescott National Forest, there are no official geocaching site maps to explore. If you engage in geocaching within the forest boundaries, please don’t disturb the native plant life or dig a hole to hide your cache. Instead, leave your items tucked safely behind a tree or under a bush.
Encompassing a wide variety of landscapes, from mountain lakes and streams to the desert floor, Prescott National Forest offers visitors the opportunity to witness nature in many different forms during a single visit. Bird-watchers might be lucky enough to spot a bald eagle soaring over the trees. Hikers may spy deer running through mountain meadows or a snake winding its way across the desert floor.
Most of Prescott National Forest is open 24 hours a day, making it a perfect spot for stargazing. Taking a scenic drive through the forest will take you away from the light pollution of the towns and leave the sky wide open atop the valleys below. Stop at a roadside turn out and enjoy looking at the galaxy the way our ancestors did thousands of years ago.
Address: Prescott, AZ 86301
Fee: Entry fee (one-day vehicle pass) $5
Fee: Entry fee (four-month vehicle pass) $20
Fee: Entry fee (annual vehicle pass) $40
From the desert floor painted with cactus and boulders to the pine trees and sparkling lakes near the mountain tops, Prescott National Forest is the perfect stop on your RV trip through the Southwest. With so much to explore, you’ll want to leave yourself plenty of time to experience everything Prescott National Forest has to offer.