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Explore / nature / higher elevations

Mogollon Rim

2 Cool Lizards travel guide

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Rim country lies in the "higher country", 75 miles NE of Phoenix. This means it is a great escape from the 110 degree plus heat of the summer desert. The lake shown above is Woods Canyon Lake.

Mogollon Rim Arizona What is "Rim Country"? The rim runs for approximately 200 miles and stands over 7,000 ft. high. It is basically a "step" created by nature to take one from the lowlands of the desert to the high country. Its name is actually the Mogollon Rim, named after Native Americans. The town of Payson lies in the central area of the rim at an elevation of about 5,000 feet. The rim area contains over 3 million acres of pines, making it the largest Ponderosa Pine forest in the world. Old Rim Road (forest route 300) skirts the edge of the rim and runs a distance of over 40 miles, reaching a height of 8,074 feet at Baker Butte. Except for 3 miles on the east end, the road is dirt/gravel. This part of the road can become slippery and dangerous when wet.

There are numerous lakes along the rim, conveniently stocked with fish. Several campgrounds and cabins provide lodging for those seeking pine scented, cool, clean air in the high country.

To visit the lakes and take in fabulous views off the rim, follow state route 260 east out of Payson. You will travel through Star Valley, Kohl's Ranch, and Christopher Creek. Take a left onto Forest Road #300. The road is paved for 3 miles and leads to Woods Canyon Lake, as well as fabulous views from the edge of the rim. Enjoy hikes ranging from easy strolls to strenuous climbs. Solitude and quiet, away from the stresses of life, bring peace to one's soul.

Stop at the visitor's center, located at the intersection of Hwy 260 and FR 300, for maps an information about camping. The visitor's center is handicap accessible, with an accessible restroom.

The scent of pines and the feel of cool, clean air lure valley visitors as well as out of state travelers. With the largest Ponderosa Pine forest in the world, rim country offers numerous choices for camping, which are designated as developed, semi-developed or back-country. Rental cabins are also available in the area. Reservations can be made for many campgrounds, though not all are included in the system. Click the links below for more information.

Due to snow in winter, road conditions at this time of year must be checked before a trip. The north rim campground is only accessible by vehicle from May 15 to October 15, and resides at 8,200 feet.

The towns of Pine & Strawberry, Payson, Star Valley, Little Green Valley, Kohl's Ranch and Christopher Creek are within the area. Arizona's oldest schoolhouse still stands in the town of Strawberry. Payson hosts events throughout the year, such as the June Bug Blues Festival, July fireworks show and much more.

The Rim Country Museum, located at 700 East Green Valley Parkway in Payson, contains historical photos and artifacts. Shoofly Village Ruins, located 5 miles NE of Payson, contains the remains of a 80 room housing structure that was occupied between 1000 and 1250 AD.

The Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is close by and definitely worth seeing.

Also see: Rim Road for our photos and review of this very scenic drive.

sunset on Mogollon Rim
Sunset On Mogollon Rim
Woods Lake Mogollon Rim
Woods Canyon Lake
Mogollon Rim Trail
Accessible Vista Trail On Rim


From the Phoenix area, take hwy 87 north to Payson. Go east on hwy 260, or continue north on 87/260 through Pine and Strawberry. FR 300 connects 87 north of Srawberry to 260 east of Christopher Creek, allowing a complete loop through the area.


USDA site: Tonto National Forest Make reservations for national park recreation activities.

accessible travel Accessibility

Mogollon Rim accessible trail The Mogollon Rim area can be reached by automobile, on good highways. Beautitul scenery can be seen from the car on the east end of FR #300. The Vista Trail is paved and wheelchair accessible. Handicap parking is available.

A private, handicap accessible restroom is located on the east end of FR 300 (near where it meets hwy 260), on the north side of the road. There is also a wheelchair accessible restroom located just outside the Visitor's Center. The visitor's center is on Hwy 260, where 260 meets FR 300.

The Visitor's Center itself is wheelchair accessible.

travel with children Children
As you can see from the photos, small children must not be allowed to run free along the rim edge. There are no guard rails and the drop is over 2,000 feet. The rim lakes are stocked by the the Arizona fish and game department, so bring your pole and fishing license. The forests and lakes along the rim offer many places to explore. Boat rentals are available at Woods Canyon Lake.

A nearby safe area to play, 32 acre Green Valley park in Payson offers 3 lakes, play areas, 17 acres of turf and 4 miles of walking trails. Fishing with a license is also available at the Payson lakes.
travel with pets Pets
For your pet's safety, use a leash at all times. A pet could easily tumble over the side of the cliff.

Leashed pets are allowed on the forest trails unless otherwise posted. Clean up after your pets. Follow safety precautions regarding your pet. Bring plenty of water, allow ample rest, watch for signs of exhaustion, hunger, dehydration etc.

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