Camping, fishing, biking, and hiking with beautiful views in the Apache National Forest

Canyons, meadows, rivers, lakes, mountains, and pristine evergreen and mixed forests – Campgrounds in the Apache National Forest have beautiful views of all of this and more, including excellent recreational opportunities for fishing, hiking, and mountain biking.

The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is one of eleven National Forests in the Southwest Region of Arizona and New Mexico and ranges from 3,500 feet to nearly 11,500 feet in elevation. It is named after the tribes that settled in this area. The Arizona area from Mount Baldy east to Escudilla Mountain is often referred to as the White Mountains (discovered by James White in the early 1900s) and is where the campgrounds featured in this article are located – about 3 hours of trip from Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas.

Ideally, all campgrounds should overlook a beautiful natural landscape that can be seen directly from most campgrounds. Well, we all know that many if not most camgrounds do not meet this criteria; But here are several campgrounds located in the Apache National Forest that do!

If you prefer a small, tent-only campground with direct views of a beautiful lake and meadow in the foreground and mountains in the background, try Brookchar or Cutthroat Campgrounds near Springerville, AZ. Both campgrounds are located in a beautiful evergreen forest next to Big Lake and a large meadow at an elevation of approximately 9,100 feet. Most of the sites in both campgrounds have good or excellent views of the lake and / or meadow. Killer Campgrounds 2, 3, 5, and 6 are the closest to the lake and all of the sites in Brookchar have direct views of the lake.

If you have an RV or tent and prefer views of a river creek lined by narrow canyon walls, try any of the five campgrounds located along the East Fork of the Black River in a picturesque wooded narrow canyon with majestic tall evergreens at elevations ranging from about 7,500 to 7,950 feet. Diamond Rock, Aspen, Deer Creek, Raccoon, and Horse Springs campgrounds are all within a very short distance from each other. Each of these campgrounds (except for Horse Springs) is small and secluded, has twelve or fewer campgrounds, and can accommodate small RVs.

Horse Springs Campground is larger with many more sites and can accommodate larger RVs. As you look between the canyon walls at each of these campgrounds, you’ll see beautiful views of a narrow canyon floor, often dotted with small meadow-like areas and beautiful tall ponderosa pines. Some of the campsites have river views, but river views are obstructed from many of the sites by the surrounding trees and vegetation along the banks of the river.

Although many of the campsites do not have a river view, you can still hear the sound of moving water, enhancing the sense of beauty in the area. The overall feel of these campgrounds is rustic, pristine, and beautiful. Since each of these five campgrounds is so close to each other, you can also go through each one and choose the one that suits you best, the views are similar but each has a slightly different character.

Another campground with beautiful views that is just a few miles down a forest path out of the five mentioned above is Buffalo Crossing Campground. The canyon walls in this camp are shallower and the area between the walls is much wider than the other five camps in this area. Some of the sites are in a beautiful open meadow between the canyon walls and some hug the edges of one of the canyon walls covered in forests of majestic ponderosa pine. Several of the sites on the prairie have views of the Negro River. Due to the open meadow, this campground has a lot of sun.

A larger and larger campground in the area (also within the Apache National Forest) that offers beautiful views of a meadow is Winn’s Campground at an elevation of approximately 9,320 feet. The campground has about 67 RV and tent sites in total and can accommodate medium-sized RVs. Sites 46 – 58 have views of the beautiful meadow.

After setting up your campsite, explore nearby recreational opportunities for hiking, biking, and fishing. For hikers, there are approximately 875 miles of trails. The forest has four national recreation trails: Eagle, Blue Ridge, Escudilla, and General George Crook. There is also an interpretive trail along the Mogollon Rim with spectacular views of the Colorado Plateau and the Gila-Salt River watersheds, an easy hike for young and old on a self-guided interpretive trail about a mile long.

Fishing opportunities also abound in the area. The Apache National Forest is considered one of the best forests in the country for fishing and contains more than 450 miles of streams and nearly 2,000 acres of cold-water lake area. Fish species include Arctic grayling, rainbow, German brown, brook, Apache, and cutthroat trout.

Finally, mountain biking is also popular in this national forest. Consult a forest map and look for the double dotted lines or the double solid unshaded lines that indicate primitive or dirt roads and you will see many jeep tracks, forest roads and little used forest roads where motorized traffic is infrequent enough to not interfere with riding a bike. The views are beautiful from most roads and throughout the forest.

Camping, hiking, biking, and fishing with beautiful views are available in Apache National Forest.

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