Coconino National Forest, Pine
By Kelly Vaughn Kramer
A cruise along Forest Road 300 might have you thinking you’ve fallen asleep and woken up in the Pacific Northwest. Stands of pines — piñon and ponderosas alike — are seated in beds of stunning bright green ferns. This is the Mogollon Rim at its finest, and as you approach Kehl Springs Campground, the road tops out in meadowlike surroundings, with amazing views of Rim Country.
Everything around this rustic, eight-site campground is emerald-colored and clean. It’s like Oz, only without the Lollipop Guild. There are, however, off-roading trails, so don’t be surprised to see an ATV buzzing through the greenery.
Where the off-roaders aren’t, the dandelions are, and photo opportunities abound. Kehl Springs Campground is near hiking trails that originate off of FR 300, including the easy General Crook Trail 130, which runs 25 miles along the Rim. While it’s unlikely you’ll tackle all 25 miles during your visit, you should at least attempt a few of them. Hiking along the Mogollon Rim is one of the great outdoors experiences that Arizona offers.
Campfire Tale: From Kehl Springs Campground, you can see the Four Peaks in the Mazatzal Mountains range, as well as the Sierra Ancha, which fall between Roosevelt Lake to the south, Pleasant Valley to the north, Cherry Creek to the east and Tonto Basin to the west.
PHOTO: Kehl Springs Campground is flanked by pine trees and surrounded by wildflower meadows. | Paul Gill
Elevation: 7,500 feet
Directions: From Pine, travel north on State Route 87 for 13.6 miles to its junction with FR 300, also known as Rim Road, and turn right. Bear left at the fork of FR 300 and Forest Road 281 and travel 6.7 miles to the campground. FR 281 is pot-holed and gravelly in places, but generally well maintained and passable by sedan.
Information: Mogollon Rim Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 928-477-2255 or www.fs.usda.gov/coconino
Season: Late-May through September
Amenities: Pets, Toilets