Monsoon Storms Could Cause Flooding on Mount Graham

Stan Lowery | Mount Graham

Officials are warning that last year's wildfire on Mount Graham could cause monsoon flooding on the Southeastern Arizona peak.

The lightning-caused Frye Fire burned 48,000 acres in the Pinaleño Mountains last year. Now, officials from the Coronado National Forest told the Associated Press, runoff in areas where the vegetation was burned could lead to flooding on State Route 366 (the Swift Trail), the only highway up the mountain.

Emergency road closures are possible if monsoon storms lead to flooding, forest officials told the AP. Clearing the road could take hours, and drivers should be prepared for temporary delays.

The wildfire also decimated the range's population of Mount Graham red squirrels, which exist nowhere else in the wild. A census late last year estimated there were only 35 squirrels left — down from 250 the previous year.

If you're looking for a scenic drive in the Pinaleños that's more rugged but was less affected by the Frye Fire, check out Tripp Canyon Road, which climbs the range's western flank. A high-clearance vehicle is required, and you'll need four-wheel-drive to make it all the way to the top.

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