the geographic center of Arizona, the Verde Ranger District is
accessible to visitors from all over the state.
In the Southwest, an important line of
defense against a major wildfire, a natural disaster, or emergency
incident is the Prescott Fire Center and Henry Y. H. Kim Aviation
Prescott National Forest History
The Prescott Forest Reserve, predecessor to
the Prescott National Forest, was established on May 10, 1898, by
a proclamation issued by President William McKinley.
The forest is located in the mountains southwest of
Flagstaff and north of Phoenix in Yavapai County, with a small portion
(about 3.5 percent) extending into southwestern Coconino County. Its
administrative offices are in Prescott. There are local ranger
district offices in Camp Verde, Chino Valley, and Prescott. The forest
includes Lynx Creek where Sam Miller panned for gold and was wounded
by a cougar.
The Prescott Forest Reserve was established by the General Land
Office on May 10, 1898. It was transferred to the U.S. Forest Service
in 1906 and became a National Forest on March 4, 1907. On July 1, 1908
it absorbed Verde National Forest, and on October 22, 1934 it absorbed
Tusayan National Forest.
Summer visitors seeking relief from the hot weather of the desert
come to Prescott to camp, fish, picnic, hike and ride. The main
recreation season generally runs from May to October; however, winter
daytime temperatures are moderate and the Prescott National Forest can
be enjoyed all year.
The forest contains 10 campgrounds, 4 group reservation
campgrounds, 7 picnic areas, and 2 group reservation picnic areas.
Most of the developed recreation sites are located in the pines with 5
of the campgrounds and two of the picnic areas situated near manmade
lakes. Several developed sites offer barrier-free access for users
Nearly 450 miles of scenic trails for hiking, backpacking,
horseback riding, or mountain biking are offered on the Prescott
National Forest. The forest also contains one National Recreational
Trail (Granite Mountain Trail) and one National Historic Study trail
(General Crook Trail). The mild climate allows the trails to be
For the more daring visitors, the forest offers opportunities for
hang gliding, technical rock climbing and bouldering, whitewater
rafting, and excellent mountain bicycling.
The Prescott National Forest is guardian of more than 100,000 acres
of wilderness represented by 8 wilderness areas. Of these, Granite
Mountain Wilderness is the most popular because it is only 20 minutes
from Prescott by paved road. Travel is limited to foot or horseback in
Currently, the forest is being challenged to increase its emphasis
on wildfire and recreation management programs.
Some sites are closed during the Winter months, and during wet
weather, recreation sites may be closed to prevent resource damage.
Please contact the district office responsible for the site you want
to visit to be sure it is open.