Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests
Alpine Ranger District (928) 339-4384
Clifton Ranger District (928) 687-1301
Portions of this area were impacted by the 2011 Wallow Fire. While parts of the forest did burn, most is still intact, and wildlife viewing opportunities are not diminished.
The scenery is spectacular along this highway route traveling from the high-elevation White Mountain town of Alpine to the desert mining town of Clifton. The route traverses coniferous pine forest over 9,000 feet in elevation on the north end to desert scrub habitat at 3,500 feet on the south end. Blue Vista Point, on the edge of the Mogollon Rim south of Hannagan Meadow, is a must-see rest stop.
Elk, mule deer, blue grouse, Merriam’s turkey, and Abert’s’s and red squirrel are frequently seen in the forested areas in early morning and late evening. Coues white-tailed deer are found in the lower, southern elevations. Look for pronghorn antelope in the grasslands. Active beaver dams can be spotted in the creeks along the highway at higher elevations. A variety of raptors and songbirds can be seen along the way, including northern goshawk, red-tailed hawk, golden-crowned kinglet and Clark’s nutcracker. At the southern end, look for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep along the slopes of the highway switchbacks between Clifton and Morenci and along slopes where the highway passes through one of the largest open-pit copper mines in Arizona.
Habitat: Ponderosa pine forest, mixed conifer, pinyon pine, juniper and oak woodland, grassland
Seasons: All year.
Location: Start on the Coronado Trail (State Highway 191) at either Alpine or Clifton. The distance between towns is 95 miles, but there are numerous switchbacks and sharp turns with low speed limits, so plan on three to four hours of driving time.
Access: 24 hours daily. The paved road closes with heavy snow and is not regularly maintained in winter.
Near: Alpine or Clifton