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Coconino National Forest, Red Rock Ranger District

The Red Rock Ranger District is one of three districts that comprise the Coconino National Forest in northern-central Arizona. It makes up 487,522 acres of the total 1,842,959 acres within Coconino NF, which was established in in 1908. There are six designated wildernesses within the district encompassing a total 156,981 acres.  

This area is famous for its red sandstone cliff, mesa, and butte formations. Both of Arizona’s federally-designated Wild and Scenic Rivers, the Verde and Fossil Creek, pass through Red Rock District. Otherwise, water sources are seasonal, with June typically being the driest month after the snow from upper elevations has melted and before monsoon season starts. Due to the range of ecosystems and habitats here, it’s a native habitat to an enormous variety of flora and fauna, including rare plant species Arizona bugbane and Lynghom’s brakefern, and wildlife such as ringtails, peregrine falcons, the rare Mexican garter snake, and Gila topminnows.   

I visited in April and June, and loved the small bit I got to explore of this beautiful part of Arizona, including driving scenic Verde River. Temperatures in the summer can get extreme, which is important to take into account when planning your visit, unless you’re doing water-based recreation or cruising the scenic drives.   

You can download a free digital travel map of the forest in PDF format, which is also available through Avenza. This map is much better than the standard Motor Vehicle Use Map, because it includes more detail, some topographic information, and even a few trails. If you really want to get crazy, you can download a PDF version of the full Coconino NF map, which is fantastic for the budget-minded because hard copies of these maps cost $10.  A Red Rock ($5/day or $20/year) or federal interagency pass is required in many areas of the district, which offers a wide range of recreation opportunities including hiking, biking, boating, camping, and visiting archaeological sites. In the summer (April 1 – October 1), $10 special permits, which can only be purchased through, are required for the Fossil Creek Area

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