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 Photo
Some 50,000 years ago, a meteorite slammed into the Earth scarring it forever. Today, Meteor Crater, as it is commonly known, is a popular tourist attraction.

© Nick Berezenko


>> 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 Roads. Now in its fifth edition, the book ($19.95) features 40 of the state's most
scenic drives.

To order a copy, call 800-543-5432 or click here.

Chavez Pass
Lush pine forests, mountain lakes and shimmering plains make this historic route one of our favorites.

By Roger Naylor

The drive to Chavez Pass is a sly one. It's easy just to roll through the pleasing landscape that melts from one vivid scene to the next — lush pine forests, mountain lakes and shimmering plains — without realizing the layers of history you're brushing past. This one is worth a little predrive research.

Start approximately 46 miles north of Payson, turning west onto Forest Road 211, off State Route 87. The dirt road curves through an impressive park-like setting of ponderosa pines, with pools of grasses swirling around mature trees. Along the route, the forest ebbs and flows, with pines and then junipers crowding the road in dense groves. Other times, scrubby meadows sweep the timber back onto distant slopes.

After about 3.2 miles, turn right onto Forest Road 82 and follow it toward Long Lake for 11 miles. Long Lake, Soldier's Lake and Soldier's Annex Lake are three shallow fishing lakes perched in high grasslands that are freckled with volcanic rock and wind-bent junipers. The trio is clustered close together, and each is known for producing a different species of fish. They're a pretty sweet deal for impatient anglers.

The lakes lie about a mile beyond the turnoff for Forest Road 69B. After visiting the lakes, backtrack to FR 69B — the road beyond that point is four-wheel-drive territory — and continue northeast toward Chavez Pass, which is a natural gap through the rugged country above the Mogollon Rim.

The pass is named for Colonel J. Francisco Chaves, who provided a military escort to Arizona's first Territorial governor. The route connecting Winslow to Prescott is known as Chavez Trail, but is actually part of something much older: the Palatkwapi Trail, which stretched from the Hopi mesas to the native villages of the Verde Valley. The Palatkwapi was a section of a prehistoric trade route that went from Colorado into northern Mexico.

After 4 miles on FR 69B, you'll reach a signed parking area for Chavez Pass Ruins. There isn't a designated trail — just scramble up the hill directly behind the sign. Atop the mesa, you can see the bare bones of an ancient Sinaguan village, which had been occupied by as many as 1,000 people from the years 1050 to 1425. Look for low-stacked stone walls, indentations of rooms and faint rock art traced on boulders.

The road pushes through the pass and breaks into open plains. The gravel track smooths out and, for the next 20 miles, beelines across vast grazing lands. The volcanic towers of the San Francisco Peaks rise to the west. Just as you're contemplating the span of history you've already sampled, the road ends at the entrance to Meteor Crater, where a fiery orb slammed into the Earth, gouging out a mile-wide hole some 50,000 years ago.

Tour Guideclick to expand

Map of AreaNote: Mileages are approximate.

Length: 38.5 miles one way

Directions: From Payson, drive north on State Route 87 for 46 miles to Forest Road 211 (near Milepost 300), turn left and continue 3.2 miles to Forest Road 82. Turn right onto FR 82 and drive 11 miles to Forest Road 69B. Turn right onto FR 69B, which exits the national forest and becomes Chavez Pass Road, and continue to Meteor Crater Road, 4.5 miles south of Interstate 40.

Vehicle Requirements: The dirt roads are generally suitable for passenger vehicles in dry weather, although Forest Road 69B is bumpy. After rains, roads can become rutted and the clay turns slick and slimy.

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: Mogollon Rim Ranger District, 928-477-2255 or www.fs.usda.gov/coconino

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.