Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is a 2.76 million acre United States National Forest which runs along the Mogollon Rim and the White Mountains in east-central Arizona and extending into the U.S. state of New Mexico. Both forests are managed as one unit by USDA Forest Service from the forest headquarters in Springerville, Arizona. It has over 400 species of wildlife. With its high elevation and cool summer breezes, it is a popular weekend destination from the hot desert for Phoenix, Arizona inhabitants. The forest is separated into 5 ranger districts that span almost 300 miles from Clifton, Arizona in the east-central part of Arizona to the eastern boundary of the Coconino National Forest in north-central Arizona. The forest borders the western and northern borders of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. It is located in parts of Greenlee, Apache, Navajo, and Coconino counties in eastern and east-central Arizona, and Catron County in western New Mexico. The more northwesterly Sitgreaves National Forest portion lies adjacent to the north side of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and is located entirely in Arizona, within Navajo, Apache, and Coconino counties. It has a total area of 818,651 acres. The more southeasterly and much larger Apache National Forest portion sits adjacent to the east side of the Fort Apache and the San Carlos Indian Reservations. It sits on both sides of the border with New Mexico, in Greenlee, Apache, and Catron counties. It has a total area of 1,813,601 acres.

It has eight notable cold water lakes and boasts a number of lakes and reservoirs and over 680 miles of rivers and streams. The headwaters for the Black, San Francisco, and Little Colorado rivers are in the White Mountains. The lakes are Big Lake, Willow Springs Lake, Woods Canyon Lake, Black Canyon Lake, Chevelon Canyon Lake, Bear Canyon Lake, Luna Lake, Crescent Lake, and Blue River.

There are four areas that are designated wilderness areas within Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest that are a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. All of them lie within the former Apache National Forest section, except for a small part of one, which extends into neighboring Gila National Forest in New Mexico. They are Bear Wallow Wilderness, Escudilla Wilderness, Blue Range Wilderness, and Mount Baldy Wilderness.

Image Caption: The Apache-Sitgreaves highlands, looking east, going north, on route 191, in Arizona. Credit: Nightryder84/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)