Arizona Snowbowl, Flagstaff

High Country Recreation

By: Elena Acoba

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May 7, 2014

Head to the mountains for cooler weather and outdoor summer fun.

About the author

Elena Acoba

Elena Acoba

Since moving to Tucson in 1988, freelance writer Elena Acoba has enjoyed traveling to the four corners of Arizona. Her favorites spots in her adopted state: the natural wonders and the rich historical sights.

Take advantage of the many opportunities for outdoor summer recreation throughout the cool climes of Arizona’s pine-forested high country. National forests and tribal lands in North Central and Northern Arizona maintain places for year-round hiking, hunting, horseback riding, camping and other familiar activities.

Here are some of Arizona’s lesser-known high country adventures that you can enjoy in cool summer comfort.

Zip lining

Predator Zip Line takes you over Out of Africa, a popular wildlife park in Camp Verde. It is the only zip line in the world where visitors soar as high as 90 feet over natural predators, such as bears, lions and tigers.

Flagstaff Extreme Adventure in the pine-forested Fort Tuthill County Park tests your strength and agility along five adult circuits and one child course. Each has suspended bridges, rope swings, hanging nets and zip lines. 


Some of the best fishing in Arizona includes both lake and stream angling. Trout are plentiful in idyllic camping spots such as White Horse Lake southeast of Williams and Ashurst Lake southeast of Flagstaff. 

Long Lake southeast of Sedona give anglers a shot at trout, catfish and walleye. 

Lake Mary near Flagstaff boasts northern pike, trout, channel cat and crappie. Paved lakeshore ramps make it easy for disabled anglers to drop a line.

See where the plentiful trout in Canyon Creek northeast of Young come from by visiting the nearby Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery. The Verde River presents bass, catfish and sunfish. Try out the locally popular north fork of the White River in the White Mountains to fish for Arizona Apache trout.

Fossil hunting 

An easy excursion with an assured payoff is the Paleo Site off Highway 260 some 12 miles east of Payson. Plentiful brachiopods, crinoids, bivalves and other fossilized creatures are embedded among the limestone. It’s free to hunt for and collect specimens.

Wildlife viewing 

The Kendrick Park Watchable Wildlife Trail near Flagstaff increases the possibility of seeing mule deer, porcupine, elk and many other animals as it bridges forest and grassland. Two short trail loops, including one that is wheelchair accessible, include interpretive signs.

Raptors, waterfowl, beaver, bobcat, black bear, mountain lion and many other species are drawn to Fool Hollow Lake in the Apache-Sitegreaves National Forest near Show Low, where wildlife islands provide refuge and, for humans, great spotting opportunities.

Several wildlife viewing points in the Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area near Eager and Springerville, including one with a spotting scope, are well-positioned to help you locate forest and meadow denizens.

Riparian, wetland and aquatic habitats converge at Luna Lake Wildlife Area in the White Mountains, attracting ducks, songbirds, owls, mule deer, elk and long-tailed weasels.

Bouldering and rock climbing 

Some of the best sport climbing in the United States is found in Jack’s Canyon in Coconino National Forest. There are almost 300 routes with vertical faces and overhangs, manufactured and chipped holds, bubbly rock and cold shuts. 

Crown King, Granite Mountain and Thumb Butte in Prescott National Forest are popular for face-and crack-climbing. Groom Creek has lots of granite outcroppings for bouldering. 


Few things say lazy summer more than a tubing trip down the Verde River, one of Arizona’s two watercourses in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Sedona Adventure Tours sets you up with a tube, a water cannon and shuttle service for one-to two-hour floats.

This story was last updated January 26, 2018.

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