Leave all of your expectations behind when you visit the Coconino National Forest; this incredibly diverse landscape blows away any preconceived notions about what a national forest should be. Here, staggering red-rock towers rise from desert bluffs, and wild canyons cut through tree-covered mountains. From the snow-covered summit of Humphreys Peak to the Apollo space program training sites, there's a surprise around every corner. Take your pick of climates — head down to the red-rock cliffs near Sedona for classic Arizona sunshine and heat, or drive up to the peaks and forests near Flagstaff for cool breezes and snowy winters. With a variety of national parks and monuments a short drive away, this region can keep you busy for weeks.
Camping is the best way to experience the full beauty of the Coconino National Forest. Create a base camp in the mountains or down in the red rocks, and enjoy day hikes and afternoon adventures throughout the region. With an RV, you always have a cozy bed waiting after a day of fun. Don't have a motorhome of your own? RVshare makes it easy to rent the perfect RV for a weekend jaunt or a longer wilderness vacation.
Pine Flat Campground is one of the most popular campgrounds in the Coconino National Forest. You'll understand why as soon as you pull into one of the spectacular campsites — each one is shaded by towering pine trees and blessed with views of the rocky cliffs in Oak Creek Canyon. Some sites sit right next to Oak Creek, so you can have your morning coffee to the sound of moving water. The campground's 56 sites accept RVs up to 36 feet long; 18 spots can be reserved in advance, and the remainder are first-come, first-served. There are no hookups, but you can find vault toilets and drinking water close to your site. A quick walk from camp, enjoy swimming, fishing, wildlife watching, and hiking along Oak Creek. Every site is $22 per night.
Stay an easy drive from everything the Coconino National Forest has to offer at Woody Mountain Campground and RV Park. RV sites here offer all of the comforts of home: full hookups, free Wi-Fi, hot showers, modern bathrooms, and a laundry room. Fill up your water and use the dump station, and grab an evening snack in the general store. There are even a restaurant and a hiking trail on-site for convenience. Rates for full-hookup sites start at $52 per night.
The Waterfall Trail on Fossil Creek is one of the most popular hikes in the Coconino National Forest. It runs along Fossil Creek, which has the Wild and Scenic designation, offering a look at a different side of Arizona. As you hike, you'll see a series of spectacular waterfalls that cascade into brilliant green pools. Swimming is possible away from the waterfalls in a number of stunning, calm pools. The hike is relatively easy, but if you're bringing kids, take care around the edges of the waterfalls.
Length: 1 mile
If you're in the mood for a challenge, head straight to Humphreys Trail. Steep and strenuous, it takes you to the summit of Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona. On clear days, you can see across to the Grand Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, and the Painted Desert. The journey is as beautiful as the destination; you'll see alpine forests, bristlecone pines, and rocky slopes.
Length: 10 miles round-trip
Soldier Pass Trail leads to one of the natural wonders of the Coconino National Forest: the Seven Sacred Pools. These natural depressions have formed in the sandstone, creating a miniature, photogenic oasis in the wilderness. During the rainy season, the pools fill with water — if you're lucky, you might even see a waterfall as the overflow cascades from pool to pool. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen as the trail is exposed and often hot.
Length: 4.5 miles round-trip
Get up close and personal with the red rocks on the Courthouse Butte Loop Trail. It winds around Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock, two beautiful formations that rise high off the desert floor. Every turn reveals different views of the red rock cliffs that extend in all directions. This is a great hike to do with kids; it's a popular route, but you can avoid the crowds by setting out early in the day.
Length: 4.2 miles round-trip
Offering some of the most breathtaking views in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness, Bear Mountain Trail #54 is a favorite among photographers. Leave early in the morning, and bring plenty of water; most of the trail is completely exposed, so you won't find much in the way of shade. Over 2.3 miles, the trail takes you to the top of Bear Mountain, where you can see Red Canyon and the San Francisco Peak. This route can be done any time of year, but it's best when there's no snow.
Length: 4.6 miles round-trip
The West Fork of Oak Creek Trail is one of the most frequently hiked trails in the entire Coconino National Forest, and it's easy to see why. The well-maintained path takes you under towering red-rock cliffs, through green forests, and next to a stream. The West Fork makes a great hike any time of year, but it's particularly lovely in the fall when the trees in the canyon blaze with colorful leaves. Depending on the time of year and the water level, you may need to walk through the stream.
Length: 3.2 miles one way
If you're interested in walking through Sedona's legendary energy vortices, the Airport Loop Trail is the easiest way to do so. The trail runs around the top of Airport Mesa, which is famous as the home to an energy vortex; don't be surprised if you see hikers meditating or doing yoga on the red rocks. Even if you're not interested in the mystical properties of the region, this hike offers stunning panoramic views of Sedona, the red-rock cliffs, and the forest.
Length: 4.3 miles round-trip
The Coconino National Forest offers some of the most exciting and varied recreational opportunities in Arizona. Hiking is one of the most popular activities; hundreds of miles of trails take you into the mountains, canyons, and cliffs. Some trails are open to mountain bikes, horses, and off-road vehicles. If you're interested in rock climbing, head to Jack's Canyon or the Priest Draw Trail and Bouldering area. Prefer to stay in your vehicle? The forest offers spectacular scenic drives, including the Around the Peaks Loop, the Mogollon Rim Road, and the Oak Creek Canyon drive.
Cool off during a hot Arizona summer at Lake Mary, Mormon Lake, or C.C. Cragin Reservoir. Fossil Creek and Grasshopper Point are fun swimming areas; you can also fish in both locations.
In the winter, head up to Arizona Snowbowl for snowboarding, skiing, and snowmobiling.
Address: 1824 S. Thompson St., Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Fee: Entry fee $0
With its wonderfully varied scenery and exceptional recreational opportunities, the Coconino National Forest is fun for families and extreme adventurers alike. In one day, you can snowboard at the Arizona Snowbowl and watch the sunset from the red rocks near Sedona. Whether you're visiting in the height of summer or the depths of winter, an RV is a great way to camp comfortably in the wilderness.