Cool Down In Northern Arizona

Amazing! Who would have thought that a state known for its saguaro cactus and scorching summers is home to the largest contiguous Ponderosa Pine forest and high desert lake in the United States? When the mercury rises, there is no better way to beat the heat than under the shade of millions of acres of forest or splash in hundreds of miles of crystal clear blue lake.

With a combined area of over 2.5 million acres, the Coconino and Kaibab National Forests cover an area larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined. The forest lands extend from the south and the west of the town of Williams, then north covering both rims of the Grand Canyon. From the Grand Canyon the forest flows south and east to the mighty San Francisco Peaks, that tower over the community of Flagstaff, and seem to stretch endlessly to the Mogollon Rim.

Mature Ponderosa Pine trees tower more than 100 feet above the forest floor and measure up to 30 inches in diameter. The strong vanilla aroma of the Ponderosa’s bark is a pleasant surprise for most visitors. The forests of northern Arizona are peppered with many types of trees, including Douglas-fir, juniper, Engelmann and Blue spruce, oak, piñon and aspen. Great stands of aspen can be found in the 7,500 ft. – 10,000 ft. elevation between Flagstaff and Williams. The forest is dotted with camp sites, picnic areas and several lakes, including Mormon Lake just east of Flagstaff, the largest natural lake in the state.

The forest lands are very accessible to visitors with well maintained roads and trails for vehicles, hikers and bikers. The U.S. Forest Service offers complete visitor information about recreational activities, events and seasonal programs that are open to the public. (See sidebar for contact information).

Lake Powell, located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, just two hours north of Flagstaff, is the largest high desert lake (over 3,600 feet above sea level) in North America. Lake Powell is an enormous body of water over 500 feet deep and 186 miles long with 1,960 miles of shoreline. If you drew a line along the shore of this lake and then pulled both ends of that line and snapped it straight it would be longer than the distance from Canada to Mexico! The spectacular shoreline is made up of 96 major canyons and countless smaller ones that stretch off the water, just waiting to be explored by passing boaters or adventurous kayakers. The surrounding red rock desert and side canyons are favorites for hikers, mountain bikers and campers.

The community of Page is situated on a mesa overlooking Lake Powell and is a favorite destination for travelers to the region. The mystical slot canyons, Antelope & Canyon-X, on Navajo Nation land adjoining Page have been discovered by adventurous visitors.

Flagstaff and Williams, just over 30 minutes away from each other, are connected by Interstate 40 which follows the original path of the Mother Road – Route 66. The famous Route 66 is preserved in all her glory in the historic downtown districts of these two cities.

Visit for complete regional travel information including links to northern Arizona communities, national forests, Lake Powell/Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and accommodations, things-to-do, itineraries, weather, guided tours, calendar of events and much, much more. For more details call the Flagstaff Visitor Center at 1.888.697.7778, the Williams Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce at 1.800.863.0546 and the Page / Lake Powell Tourism Bureau at 1.888.261.PAGE.

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