Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Best Winter recreation opportunities in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forests

Best Winter Recreation Opportunities in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forests

The Apache Sitgreaves National Forests are two of the most beautiful and vast forests in the United States. With nearly three million acres of roaming woodland and mountain country, people from all over come to see the resplendent views all year round. The forest itself is situated in the states of Arizona and New Mexico and is a popular destination in the summer for people who live in the local deserts. The Mongolian Rim, a 7,600-foot mountain, has fantastic views and is one of the most admired attractions within the forest. Other very popular interests are the eight lakes and the extensive amount of wildlife that populates the area. There are estimated to be some 500 different species in the forest! The winter in Apache Sitgreaves is a popular time to visit the national park. Due to its numerous mountains and valleys, it makes for a great place to do a variety of winter activities. From snowmobiling and skiing to sledding and tubing, there are many areas one can go to have a fantastic time.

Bear Snowmobile Loop Trail

Snowmobiling is among the most popular winter activities in the Apache Sitgreaves. Enthusiasts come from far and wide to put their skills to the test in the forests and mountains of the area. One of the best places to go for this is the Bear Loop Trail. The loop runs an impressive 17.1 miles and is solely dedicated to snowmobiles. What more could you ask for if you love to snowmobile?


open fields and golden hills

Pole Knoll Recreation Area

The Pole Knoll Recreation Area is a cross country skiers dream. Within the area, there are 18 miles of trails, ranging in length from 1.3 to 6.2 miles. There are 12 different trails that are all interconnected, making the area a bit of a maze you must navigate. This is not tough to do, though, because all of them are clearly labeled. The area gets its name from a knoll which is visible from most of the trails. The area is moderately trafficked, mostly with cross country skiers but also by some people using snowshoes. The trail is moderate difficulty, so it is good for almost everyone.


Hannagan Meadow sign before Snowy fields and forest

Hannagan Meadow Recreation Area

The Hannagan Meadow Recreation Area is a multiuse trail that is a haven for the winter sports fanatic. The area has many trails catering to a variety of people. There is a dedicated snowmobile trail, along with other trails that support almost every type of activity. It is a great place for the experienced skier, with groomed trails that provide a challenge. It also boasts a lodge, which is a perfect place to stop after a day in the snow. The meadow itself has a rich history, having been explored since around the 16th century. Come here for the trails and stay for the gorgeous views from the Mogollon Rim.


man fishing on a lake

Big Lake Dam Fishing Site

Big Lake Dam is a very well-known fishing lake in the Apache Sitgreaves forests. This makes it very populated, but that should not deter you from coming here. It is a very enjoyable area due to its large size, and the ice fishing is excellent. Here, you can catch a rainbow, brook, cutthroat and even apache trout! There is a store on the ground where you can get everything from fishing gear to groceries.

Williams Valley Recreation Area

Williams Valley Recreation Area is thought to be, if not the best, one of the best places in the white mountains for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding. The area is one of the most finely maintained areas, due to it being taken care of by the Forest Service all year long. It has around five miles of trails that consist of forests and expansive meadows, giving up views one would find it hard to see anywhere else. It is not too heavily trafficked, so it is a great spot to take your family or just for a more relaxing session.

Willow Springs Lake

Willow Springs Lake is a man-made lake that was created in 1966. It is a very popular ice fishing spot due to its being stocked to the brim with trout and because it is one of the more accessible lakes in the area. The lake itself takes up nearly 150 acres of land and is at an elevation of 7,600 feet, so the winters can get pretty snowy and cold. If you can brave the chilly temperature, you will be rewarded with spectacular forest views, some of the best in the country. You do need an Arizona state fishing license to fish on the lake, so keep that in mind.

Escudilla Wilderness

The Escudilla Wilderness is a great place to go if you are looking to go winter camping. This area is pretty heavily trafficked, but during the winter months, it should be less so. The maximum size you can take onto the grounds is 25. The area is home to Escudilla Mountain, which you can view from pretty much anywhere within the park. It is at a relatively high elevation, as it is in the upper echelons of the mountains, standing at 10,912 feet. There are two trails that lead into the park, which is about a three-mile hike. Rules here are strictly enforced, so be sure that you know them all so that you do not run into any problems.


No matter what activity you enjoy partaking in during the winter season, it is obvious that the Apache Sitgreaves National Forests can ensure that you have a great time. Choose anything from cross country skiing to ice fishing and you will not be disappointed. Home to some of the most breathtaking forests and mountain views, this national forest has to be at the top of your list to come and visit.