The Mogollon Rim is a geologic feature that separates the high desert of northeastern Arizona from the low desert of southeastern Arizona. The rim is 1000 to 2000 feet high and covered with forest. Fort Apache, San Carlos and Tonto Apache Indian reservations are located on the rim.
- 1 Holbrook – along Route 66 with Arizona "Old West" history of in its own right.
- 2 Globe – a copper mining town back in the day and still today, with many historic buildings.
- 3 Morenci – a copper mining town with a boom-bust cyclical history.
- 4 Payson – home of the "world's oldest continuous rodeo".
- 5 Safford – a copper mining town with another slice of low-desert to high-plateau transition.
- Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
- 6 Alpine – small town amid the White Mountains; at elevation of 8,000 ft (2,400 m), a summer-time favorite get-a-way from the desert heat.
- 1 Hannagan Meadow (about 20 miles / 32 km south of Alpine on US 191). – high-country four-season sporting area. Biking, camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, nature viewing, wildlife viewing, skiing.
- Coconino National Forest.
- 2 Fossil Springs Wilderness, ☏ . April 1 to October 1. Permits required in advance. – from seemingly out of nowhere, a 20,000 U.S. gallons (76,000 L) per minute rush of water comes from a series of springs at the bottom of a 1,600 ft (490 m) canyon. A favorite swimming hole, once a hidden gem that many now know about. Call for current conditions, as accessibility can drastically change from one summer rainstorm to another.
- Tonto National Forest – the desert cacti give way to the rugged highlands of the Mogollon Rim.
For the purposes of this article, the Mogollon Rim is a region in Eastern Arizona taken to be between north-south roughly between Interstate 40 / Historic U.S. Route 66 of Northern Arizona and Interstate 10 of Southeast Arizona, and east-west between Southwest New Mexico and Greater Phoenix.
The Mogollon Rim is an escarpment defining the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau, cutting across this region from the northwest to southeast.
The Colorado Plateau is largely made up of high desert, with scattered areas of forests. In the southwest corner of the Colorado Plateau lies the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River. Much of the Plateau's landscape is related, in both appearance and geologic history, to the Grand Canyon. The nickname "Red Rock Country" suggests the brightly colored rock left bare to the view by dryness and erosion. Domes, hoodoos, fins, reefs, river narrows, natural bridges, and slot canyons are only some of the additional features typical of the Plateau.
South of the Mogollon Rim, much of the land lies from 4,000 to 5,000 feet (1,200 to 1,500 m) elevation, with the escarpment of the rim rising to about 8,000 ft (2,400 m). Extensive Ponderosa pine forests are found both on the slopes of the Rim and on the plateau north of it. Extensive boundary flora and fauna transition from the low desert to the south, up the escarpment, to the plateau.
- Interstate 40 (I-40) runs east to west across northern Arizona and connects travelers with the cities of Flagstaff, Williams and Kingman. I-40 comes into Arizona from east after passing through Albuquerque, New Mexico and from the west after passing through Barstow and Needles, California. I-40 is positioned above the Mogollon Rim in elevation and is affected by heavy snowfall during winter months.
- U.S. Route 60 (US 60) runs (in a general) east to west across central Arizona, entering the state just south of I-40 from New Mexico. U.S. 60 runs through the White Mountains and the towns of Eagar and Springerville on its way to Globe and eventually, Phoenix.
- U.S. Route 70 (US 70) runs east-to-west, with its western terminus in Globe, through Safford and into New Mexico through Lordsburg.
- U.S. Route 180 (US 180) runs east-west, with its western terminus south of the Grand Canyon in Valle, through Flagstaff and into the Mogollon Rim region, through St. Johns and Alpine, and into New Mexico to Silver City.
- U.S. Route 191 (US 191) runs north-south from the US-Mexico border near Douglas, north to Safford through the Mogollon Rim region, through Alpine and St. Johns, continuing through the Navajo Nation and into Utah.
Due to the Rim, travel within the region often is not as straight-as-a-crow; even major highways like US 60 must meander around valleys, canyons and rivers.
A car is essential as there is no public transportation. To access some of the more remote off-road areas, a four-wheel drive is recommended.
- 1 Boyce Thompson Arboretum, 37615 US 60, Superior, ☏ . Daily 6AM-3PM (summer). Arizona's oldest and largest botanical garden. Walking tours and lectures are held here, along with occasional photography workshops. $9 (adults), $4.50 (children 5-12).
- 2 Casa Malpaís Archeological Site and Museum, 418 East Main St, Springerville (museum and visitor center) (near Springerville), ☏ , email@example.com. T-S 8AM-4PM (museum); tours at 9AM, 11AM, and 2PM. An ancient pueblo archaeological site, with remains of an astronomical calendar, a great kiva, stairs, and petroglyphs. Tours start from the museum in Springerville. $10 (adults), $8 (seniors), $5 (children under 18).
- 3 Fort Apache National Historic Park, Hwy 73 (Fort Apache Indian Reservation), ☏ . Daily 7AM-sunset. This 288-acre National Historic District encompasses the remains of Fort Apache, as well as Kinishba Ruins, a sprawling Zuni and Hope site abandoned around 1400 CE. Also on site is the White Mountain Apache Cultural Center and Museum. $5 (adults), $3 (seniors), free (children under 7).
- 4 Tonto National Monument, 26260 N AZ Hwy 188 #2 (near Roosevelt), ☏ , fax: . Daily 8AM-5PM. This park contains well-preserved Salado cliff dwellings, Guided tours to the Upper Cliff Dwellings are offered from Nov-Apr; reservations required (tel. 928-467-2241). A museum and bookshop are on-site. $3 (adults), free (children under 16).
- 5 Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, Hwy 87 (10 miles north of Payson), ☏ . Daily 8AM-6PM. The largest natural travertine bridge in the world. $5 (adults 14+), $2 (youth 7-13), free (child 0-6).
- Hannagan Meadow (about 20 mi (32 km) south of Alpine.) – Biking, camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, nature viewing, wildlife viewing, skiing.
- 4 Salt River Canyon Wilderness. A deep river canyon, managed by the Tonto National Forest. There are no maintained trails, although the wilderness can be visited anytime. There are 27 sets of rapids and many side creeks, and white-water rafting and kayaking is popular during the spring. From March 1 - May 15 river-running permits are required; group size is limited to 15 people.
- Historic Route 66 – Historic Route 66 runs east-west across northern Arizona at the northern edge of the region.
- Coronado Trail Scenic Byway (U.S. Route 191) – An Arizona Scenic Route and National Scenic Byway, US 191 travels north-south through the Apache–Sitgreaves National Forest, running all the way from the Mexico border near Douglas to the Utah state line near Mexican Water. Between Morenci and Hannagan Meadow the road is dangerous with no shoulders and many hairpin turns along steep mountainsides. Also called the "Devil's Highway", as US 191 formerly was US 666 as the 6th numbered spur from US 66, but also fitting for the deadly stretch between Morenci and Hannagan Meadow with the numerous hairpin turns.
- 1 Buckboard City Cafe, 1111 US 60, Superior, ☏ . W-Su 6AM-2PM. Simple country fare, popular with locals.
- North – Northern Arizona — continue with geographic features at Arizona's higher elevations like in the Mogollon Rim:
- South – Southeast Arizona — drop down in elevation to the Sonoran Desert.
- East – Southwest New Mexico — desert and low-lying mountains, reaching east towards the Rio Grande.
- West – Greater Phoenix — maybe you're done with the high-country and want the city again.