Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff
By Kelly Vaughn Kramer
Pine trees and juniper bushes. Up and down. Those are the best ways to describe the road to Ashurst Lake Campground. It climbs amid the pine trees, then flattens along a juniper-speckled land. It climbs again, then, you guessed it, flattens out once more before reaching the lake. Although the road’s a bit rocky, just like the terrain around the campground, it doesn’t seem to bother the big birds that flock to Ashurst Lake.
Bald eagles, ospreys, hawks and white-faced ibises are known to frequent the area, thanks to the lake’s population of trout, bass and channel catfish. That’s also why this lake is popular among human anglers. You might spot ducks — pintails and cinnamon teals — and a windsurfer or two, as well. The ducks are drawn to the peaceful water, while windsurfers are keen on it because of the big gusts that rattle the surrounding junipers and spread the scent of clean air throughout the grounds.
Campers will delight in two lakefront sites, although there is an unfortunate view of power lines across the lake. That unsightly vision, however, is easy to ignore, mostly because you’ll quickly get lost in the sounds of Steller’s jays and lake-loving frogs. Non-lakefront sites feature soft spots to pitch a tent and ample views of big sky.
Campfire Tale: The bald eagle nesting season in Arizona typically runs from December through June. In higher elevations, though, bald eagle pairs tend to nest a bit later into summer.
PHOTO: Ashurst Lake Campground, in the Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff, features two lakefront sites. | Shane McDermott
Elevation: 7,000 feet
Directions: From Flagstaff, travel south on Lake Mary Road/Forest Highway 3 for 17 miles to Forest Road 82E and turn left. Travel 4 miles to the signs for Ashurst Lake/Forked Pine Campgrounds. Ashurst Lake Campground is immediately to the right.
Information: Flagstaff Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 928-526-0866 or www.fs.usda.gov/coconino
Season: Mid-May through mid-October
Fee: $16 per night
Amenities: Toilets, Pets, Water