2015 AH Classic Wall CalendarShop the AH Store >>

Our 2015 calendars are now available!

Classic Wall Calendar

CL15 $10.99

Our classic 13-month spiral-bound calendar features 30 full-color photographs and a handy map of Arizona on the back.

Order Now >>
Purchase Camping GuideShop the AH Store >>

Featured Book

Arizona Highways
Camping Guide

AGCS3 $22.95

Our newest book, which includes Arizona Highways iconic photography and maps, is sorted by region and is written for car-campers and families. Detailed information about accessibilty, amenities and fees is included for each campground.

Order Now >>
2011 AH Wildlife CalendarSee Selection of Images >>

Featured Prints

Poster Prints
Special Edition Prints

Many of the extraordinary images found in our award-winning magazine, scenic coffee-table books and exquisite calendars can be purchased as fine posters and prints.

Order Now >>
Shop the AH Store >>

Featured Gift Item

Centennial Issue Reprint

SPCENN2 $4.99

If you missed our February 100-page Centennial Issue on newsstands earlier this year, here's your second chance to get a copy of this special collector's edition of Arizona Highways magazine..

Order Now >>

  • print page
  • Tell a Friend
  • Post to Facebook
  • YouTube
  • past to del.icio.us
BULLETscenic drives archive
Scenic Drives Archive Photo
Area wildlife, such as ospreys, deer,
elk, coyotes and wild turkeys
can be found at Scholz Lake.

© Tom Bean

>> Click on image to view
it larger in a separate window.

Editor's Note click to expand
The Back Roads BookFor more scenic
drives, pick up a copy
of our book, The Back
. Now in its fifth
edition, the book
($19.95) features 40
of the state's most
scenic drives.
To order a copy, call
or click here.

Garland Prairie
There's a lot of history along this back road in Northern Arizona, but it's the scenery that'll really get your attention.

By JoBeth Jamison

There's an age-old stigma about venturing to the south side of almost any set of railroad tracks. Mothers warn against it. Songs lament the consequences. But it's probably safe to say that if Mom or Bruce Springsteen had ever ventured through Garland Prairie — just west of Flagstaff and south of the BNSF Railway tracks — they'd sing a different song.

After exiting south, off Interstate 40 at Parks (Exit 178), onto Garland Prairie Road (Forest Road 141), you not only cross the tracks, you also cross into another dimension of Northern Arizona. With such driving-force destinations as the Grand Canyon, the San Francisco Peaks and Sedona nearby, Garland Prairie gets a lot less attention, but its recreational and scenic bounties rank right up there.

At first, traveling the 26-mile side stretch from Parks to Williams feels a little like traveling down several other roads in the Kaibab National Forest, whose vistas are narrowed to dense, shady stands of ponderosa pines. Then, 4 miles in, you begin to break through the wooded atmosphere into the glorious open space of historic Garland Prairie.

In the 1860s, this spot was a stopping point for military troops and miners making their way from Flagstaff to build Fort Whipple near Prescott, and to find gold along Lynx Creek. Allegedly, it was also the stomping grounds of Bill Williams, a 19th century guide and trapper whose Kid Shelleen-like reputation made him a local legend — a legend that lives on in the nearby town, river and mountain that bear his name. Ultimately, the brutal winters and short water supply sent homesteaders and farmers searching for greener pastures. The splinter-bare remains of their cabins and structures give the prairie a lonesome, ghostly charm that, along with the panoramic views of the San Francisco Peaks, is uniquely photogenic. Still, there's plenty of new life at the meadow's southernmost end, where the road passes through a block of modern-day homes.

Deer, antelopes, ospreys and a wealth of other wildlife can also be seen roaming and playing — especially around Scholz Lake, a few miles north of FR 141 on Forest Road 63, and White Horse Lake, south of FR 141 on Forest Road 109. Summer brings abundant flora to the prairie and adjacent meadowland of McDougal Flat, including sunflowers and acres of golden crownbeard. If you care to linger, there are a number of hiking and biking trails, including the Overland Trail, off FR 141. Also, White Horse Lake offers fishing and camping.

At mile 15, FR 141 comes to a junction with Forest Road 140. Take FR 140 past Dogtown Reservoir to Forest Road 173 and turn right (north) to Williams. Be sure to visit the Williams Kaibab National Forest Visitors Information Center (a restored Santa Fe Railroad depot) before you end your rebel foray to the "wrong" side of the tracks.

Tour Guideclick to expand

Map of Area Note: Mileages are approximate.

Length: 26 miles one way (paved/dirt).

From Flagstaff, drive west on Interstate 40 for 17 miles to Parks (Exit 178), and turn left (south) onto Garland Prairie Road (Forest Road 141). Approximately 7.5 miles south of I-40, turn right and continue west on Garland Prairie Road. About 1.5 miles later, take another right to continue north on Garland Prairie Road for 5 miles, then west for 3 more miles to the junction of forest roads 141 and 140. Turn left (south) on FR 140 and continue 2.8 miles to Perkinsville Road (Forest Road 173). From there, continue on to Williams or back to I-40.

Vehicle requirements: Accessible to all vehicles. A four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicle is recommended in winter and wet weather conditions. Deep water and mud may be present..

Warning: Back-road travel can be hazardous, so be aware of weather and road conditions. Carry plenty of water. Don't travel alone and let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.

Information: Williams Ranger District, 928-635-5600 or www.fs.fed.us/r3/kai

Travelers in Arizona can visit www.az511.gov or dial 511 to get information on road closures, construction, delays, weather and more.

>> Back to Scenic Drives Archive

Story ArchivesFind previously published stories online... [more]

Global SnapshotsSend us a photo of you or someone you know posing with Arizona Highways. We'll post it on our website. It's that simple... [more]

Photo of the DaySend us a photo of you or someone you know posing with Arizona Highways. We'll post it on our website. It's that simple... [more]


Social MediaJoin our Facebook, Twitter and Flickr communities for behind-the-scenes glimpses at Arizona Highways... [more]

Events & PromotionsEscape, experience and explore Arizona, one event at a time... [more]

Travel GuidesThere's so much to see and do in Arizona. Let our online travel guide be your one-stop resource for planning your next Arizona adventure... [more]

site map  |  terms of use  |  privacy policy  |  corporate sales  |  about us  |  contact us

Arizona Highways Television AZ Dept. of Transportation AZ Dept. of Public Safety Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

© Copyright 2014 Arizona Department of Transportation, State of Arizona. All rights reserved. Reproduction in part or whole without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. The images on this Web site are copyrighted, digitally watermarked and registered with the Digimarc tracking system. All rights reserved. Copying and downloading images from this site are strictly prohibited.