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Your Relocation Resource For The Prescott, Arizona Area

Tom Dewberry
Crystal Creek Realty, Inc.

The Prescott National Forest Forms Prescott, AZ's South and West Boundaries:


The Prescott National Forest was created in 1908 from the Verde and Crown King Forest Reserves with additional acreage being added later from the Tusayan National Forest. The Forest is located about 70 air miles northwest of Phoenix, Arizona, contains approximately 1,237,000 acres, and is composed of two distinct divisions. The eastern portion of the Forest, which forms the headwaters of the Verde River (sections of this river have been designated as a component of the Wild and Scenic River System), is bordered on the north by the Kaibab National Forest, on the east by the Coconino National Forest, and on the south by the Tonto National Forest. The western portion of the Forest, which includes the Bradshaw and Santa Maria mountain ranges, is separated from the eastern portion by a broad patchwork of state, private, and other Federal lands. It forms the southern and western boundaries of the town of Prescott, Arizona, the first capital of the territory of Arizona.

The Prescott National Forest is located in a comparatively mountainous section of central Arizona between the forested plateaus to the north and the arid desert region to the south. Elevations range between 3000 feet above sea level along the lower Verde Valley to 7971 feet at the top of Mount Union, the highest natural feature on the Forest. Vegetation varies from desert shrub at the lower elevations through grassland, pinion-juniper woodlands, chaparral, ponderosa pine and small amounts of white fir-Douglas fir at the highest elevations. The climate is mild with cool nighttime temperatures in the 50's and warm daytime temperatures in the 90's during the summer. Winter temperatures rarely dip below zero and normally will rise above freezing every day.



The Prescott National Forest is managed for a variety of uses, and when traveling through the Forest you can observe many different management activities. For example, you may see fuelwood harvesting activities that provide both firewood for the home and also improves wildlife habitat. In the higher elevations where the stands of Ponderosa Pine grow you can observe timber harvesting activities. Livestock grazing has long been and continues to be an important use that is managed through issuance of grazing permits to ranchers for their grazing of cattle/sheep on the Forest. When weather conditions allow it, prescribed fire in the chaparral vegetation type is used to reduce the fire hazard near communities, increase water yield and reduce soil erosion, and improve forage conditions and/or habitat for wildlife and livestock.


The main camping and picnic season on the Forest generally runs from late May to early September, however, many of the developed sites remain open for public use after the regular season. For the recreation visitor there are twelve campgrounds (5 are located near man-made lakes), five picnic areas, four group reservation campgrounds and two group reservation picnic areas located on the Forest. One of the campgrounds, Groom Creek Horsecamp, was designed and developed as an equestrian campground that is used by people with horses. Most of these developed recreation sites are located in the pines and, with the exception of the group reservation sites and two loops in the family sites, the camp and picnic areas are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Some campgrounds have spaces that will accommodate recreational vehicles, but none of the sites are equipped with water, electric, or sewer hook-ups for these vehicles.

For the hiker, backpacker, horseback rider, or trailbiker, the Forest offers nearly 450 miles of trails for you to practice your preference over a variety of scenic trails, destination trails, and long or short loop trails. There is one National Historic Study Trail (General Crook Trail) located on the Forest. Because of the mild climate most of the trails can be enjoyed year-round, however, when plans are made to experience one of the many trails that are available, it is recommended that enough water be carried on the trip since natural water sources are scarce and undependable throughout most of the Forest.

If a backcountry experience is your pleasure, there are seven individual Wilderness areas located entirely or partially within the Prescott National Forest. The area within these Wildernesses, where travel is limited to foot or horseback, totals more than 104,000 acres. No motorized or wheeled vehicles are allowed in the Wilderness. Granite Mountain Wilderness is the most popular of all the Wildernesses due to its close proximity to the town of  Prescott, Arizona (only 20 minutes by paved road) and the unique experience it offers for hiking amongst huge granite boulders and rock formations and the outstanding view of the surrounding area from the top of Granite Mountain.


If you would like more information or detailed maps of the Prescott National Forest, contact:

Prescott National Forest, 344 S. Cortez Street, Prescott, AZ 86301,(928) 443-8000


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Your Relocation Resource For The Prescott, Arizona Area

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Tom Dewberry