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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

FALL COLOR UPDATE 2015: Lockett Meadow Access

Vehicle access to Lockett Meadow to be managed for fall color viewing

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., Sep. 30, 2015 — For Immediate Release.  Coconino National Forest plans to manage vehicle access to Lockett Meadow over the next couple of weekends to ensure public safety and allow safe travel up and down the road that leads to the meadow.
            During the weekends of Oct. 3-4 and Oct. 10-11, Forest Service personnel will be positioned in Lockett Meadow and also at the bottom of the road that leads to the meadow (near the junction of Forest Roads 552 and 418). Once the maximum capacity of approximately 50 vehicles has been reached in Lockett Meadow, personnel will manage traffic and allow one vehicle access as another departs.
Lockett Meadow is a popular destination for viewing fall colors and aspen stands as they turn yellow in the inner basin of the San Francisco Peaks. Forest Road 552, which is used to access the meadow, is a narrow forest road alongside a steep cliff that can be unsafe and difficult for opposing traffic to pass one another. Drivers should pay particular attention to oncoming traffic and blind corners.
Forest visitors are encouraged to seek other locations besides Lockett Meadow to view fall colors—especially on the weekends.  This includes the Around the Peaks Scenic Loop Drive on Forest Road 418, Snowbowl Road and the Snowbowl Scenic Chairlift, Elden Lookout Road (Forest Road 557), Hart Prairie (Forest Road 151) and Forest Road 300 along the Mogollon Rim. For more information and destinations to view fall colors on the Coconino, please visit
Lockett Meadow Campground has 17 campsites ($14/night) that are on a first-come, first-served basis.  The 50-vehicle restriction will not apply to those camping at Lockett Meadow.
  (re-posted from Forest Service press release 9-30-15)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Hikers on the Foothills Loop Trail

When massive blocks of Mississippian Escabrosa Limestone get jostled around by eons of geological turbulence, the results can be both transformative and magical. The Whetstone Mountains south of Benson are a good example of earth's dynamic forces at work. The range began when sediments at the bottom of an ancient inland sea solidified into layers of soft rock. Multiple episodes of faulting and uplifting formed the skyline of peaks that soar to over 7,000' and a chunk of limestone that slipped off the range's eastern flank that became the incubator of a celebrated natural wonder. From the outside, this slipped block appears as an unspectacular, ocotillo-studded hill. But inside, are the water-sculpted wonders of Kartchner Caverns State Park. Within the living wet caves, mineral deposits built over hundreds of thousands of years are still growing. It's like walking through a stadium-size geode.
Cave tours must be scheduled in advance. The half-mile excursions are naturally lit (no amusement park theatric here) and set to a soothing soundtrack. Guides tell the story of the cave's discovery and describe the science behind the bizarre formations that hang like melted wax, pulled taffy and flowing sheets of "liquid" stone. After the tour, you'll want to check out two above-ground hiking trails that explore the Chihuahuan semi-desert grasslands and oak-juniper forests that surround the property. The Foothills Loop Trail winds though a riparian area, savannah-like pastures and sandy washes with breathtaking mountain views. This hike is augmented with numbered posts that correspond with a free trail guide available at the Discovery Center. For a more challenging trek, the Guindani Trail #398 leaves the Foothills Trail, crosses into Coronado National Forest and makes a 1,000' climb to a scenic saddle where the peaks of the Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista hover over Arizona's border with Mexico.
Foothills Loop: 2.5 miles
Guindani Trail # 398: 4.2 mile loop
Foothills: moderate
Guindani: difficult
ELEVATION: 4,750' - 5,620'
GATE HOURS: 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.
From Tucson, take Interstate 10 east to exit 302 for State Route 90 (Sierra Vista/Fort Huachuca). Go 9 miles south on SR 90 to the park entrance on the right.
Cave Tour Reservations: