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Flagstaff, Arizona Campsite: A-1 Mtn Rd
I have fallen totally in love with Arizona. It’s one of the few states where you have such an extreme difference of temperatures. In the winter Yuma is one of the warmest places in the country and in the summer you can drive less than 300 miles and be at 8000 feet and a very comfortable temperature all summer. But the reason I love it here more than any other, is the knock-your-socks-off sunsets. I’m hopelessly addicted to them!
One of my favorite places for a summer camp is around Flagtaff, AZ where I am now. It has many advantages:
- Flagstaff is a medium size city that has all the shopping anyone could need.
- It has a very large University so it has a great feel of excitement and freshness. Unfortunately that also means the traffic can be bad–avoid drive times!
- It’s surrounded by three different National Forests that are full of beautiful Ponderosa Pines and is a very pretty area. That means you can move between them fairly easily to extend your stay.
- It’s within an hours drive of two of the most beautifully spectacular places on the planet: 1) the Grand Canyon 2) Sedona.
- It’s biggest advantage is you can camp within 5 miles of Flagstaff!
Because I am leaving here soon I want to give you a report on one of my favorite campsites just up A-1 Mountain Road, literally 5 from the heart of Flagstaff . It’s in the beautiful Coconino NF and it has the tallest mountain in Arizona as a backdrop; Mt Humphrey.
Because it’s late October I haven’t seen a Ranger yet; but I’ve been here for awhile so rather than push my luck and get into trouble I’m moving camps soon. But before I do I want to let you know about it. It’s a running joke between Judy and I that every time we change camps I gush about the new one and say “This is the best camp we’ve ever had!” but honestly, this is one of the best! Really!
I like being close to good shopping and this is one of the best ever. It is also very beautiful! We are camped in front of a large grassy field surrounded by stately Ponderosa Pine. Below us is a slight slope so we get a view off into the distance. But the best thing is Mt Humphrey behind us, it’s gorgeous!
Although I am at 7300 feet here, in the spring it can get pretty warm, high 80s or low 90s, but when the monsoons hit in July it cools off and stays a very comfortable temperature for the rest of the summer. The monsoons can be very rainy! Last summer was extremely rainy and it was actually miserable. But all the locals say that was very unusual and it almost never rains that much. This year has been much more typical with occasional thunderstorms and rain but not continual. I think it’s a good trade off to get occasional rain in exchange for perfect temperatures.
I’m also told that it is usually colder than this by the end of October, this is an uncommonly warm fall. So you need to be aware that this area gets a true four seasons and that the winter are normally pretty nice, but they can be brutal. It snows every winter but sometimes the get hit with snowstorms with strong winds and up to four feet of snow. Don’t plan on camping here through the winter! Pan to head down to the desert just a few hours away.
Directions to Camp:
I really like this camp and recommend it to you. To get here you just need to get on I-40 and drive toward Flagstaff. The main Exit into Flagg is 195 (where I-17 from Phoenix runs into Flagstaff). A-1 Mountain Road is off Eit 190, so it;s just 5 miles west of Flagg. Once you turn off the freeway onto A-1, you want to go straight ahead on the pavement until it ends. You’ll see a sign that marks this is Forest Road 506. The camp I’m at is exactly 1.1 miles from where the pavement ends. The road curves around through the forest and then climbs above it into a fairly wide open area. Starting here you will see many little dirt roads that go off to the right into the forest. You can pull over and camp at any of these! You can be right on the road and be visible to anyone driving by, or you can follow the road into the forest and be invisible from the road. That choice is yours. Be aare that in the rain many of the small side-roads will become impassable mud.
Coconino NF is famous for it’s strict enforcement so you want to be careful. You’ll want to get a map of the forest because the road continues on and wanders around for a long ways and there are many side roads that go off of it that you can take and camp on. There is virtually unlimited camping here and it’s easy to get far from the main road and probably not be seen by a Ranger all summer. It also has the advantage of being only 5 miles away from the Kaibab NF so that you can move back and forth every 14 days and stay legal.
If you’ve followed the blog for long you know that at one time this was one of the worst areas for unfair enforcement in the whole country. They were doing what I consider to be ridiculous things! However, I believe that they got so much negative feedback that they are no longer doing that. Everyone I’ve heard from said they were just doing the normal enforcement of the 14 day rule. I think it’s now safe to come back here as long as you follow the rules.
I hope you enjoyed these photos and I encourage you to come and experience the place for yourself! There is a map to the site at the very bottom of the post.