SITGREAVES NATIONAL FOREST
The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest cuts a sickle-shape arc across east-central Arizona's highlands, all of it astride the high-elevation country of the Mogollon Plateau and the White Mountains. This is an Arizona that bears little resemblance to the arid, sun-blasted deserts of southern Arizona. It's characterized by cool temperatures, Douglas-fir and ponderosa-pine forests, green meadows grazed by elk and pronghorn, and small cold streams alive with cutthroat, brown, and rainbow trout.
The forest's western arm, around the towns of Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside, has become popular among Phoenix residents as an escape hatch from summer's baking heat. The farther east you go, the wilder and more remote-feeling the country gets -- once you've passed the development around the Sunrise Ski Resort, there's only the postcard-perfect alpine village of Greer, some huge high-country ranch spreads, and the crossroads towns of Springerville and Eagar. Turn south onto the Coronado Trail (U.S. 191), and you'll access an area that's the closest thing this side of Alaska to terra incognita -- the Blue Range.