Southwestern Region Viewing Area
LOCATION and PHOTOS
This open ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forest is typical of the vegetation at the top of Mingus Mountain. Photo by Charlie McDonald.
The mountaintop has great views of the adjacent Verde Valley and beyond. Photo by Charlie McDonald.
Ferns and agaves can grow together on Mingus Mountain. The fern is fairysword (Cheilanthes lindheimeri) and the agave is Parry’s agave (Agave parryi). Photo by Charlie McDonald.
The alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana) is named for its bark that looks like alligator skin. Photo by Charlie McDonald.
Forest: Prescott National Forest
District: Verde Ranger District
Description: Mingus Mountain is in a part of Arizona called the Transition Zone. This part of the State lies between the Sonoran low desert to the south and the higher Colorado Plateau to the north. The vegetation is a mixture of plants from both areas. Here, at an elevation of about 7,800 feet, cacti, yuccas, and agaves grow in an open forest of ponderosa pines. At only slightly lower elevations the tall pines are replaced by oaks and large shrubs. The best time for wildflower viewing in this area is usually July and August after the summer rains, but the general vegetation is also interesting and can be seen anytime from May through October.
Safety First: Lightning storms that usually build up in the early afternoon pose a significant risk during the July and August rainy season. At this time of year, it is a good idea to do your exploring in the morning and to stay away from high ridges or peaks if storms are approaching.
Directions: From Prescott, Arizona, take U.S. Highway 89 north to U.S. Highway 89A. Turn right onto Highway 89A and go about 19 miles to the junction with Forest Road 104 at the summit. Forest Road 104 is on your right as you approach the summit. Turn right onto Forest Road 104, which is dirt but suitable for all types of vehicles when dry, and travel about 4 miles. At this point, the road makes a “T” with a parking lot directly in front of you. You can park here and explore or take the right fork and proceed to the campground, which has toilets and campsites, but no water.
From the Camp Verde, Arizona (junction of Interstate 17 and Arizona Highway 260), take Highway 260 north for about 20 miles to the junction with U.S. Highway 89A. This route will take you through the communities of Bridgeport, Cottonwood, and Clarkdale. At Clarkdale, turn left staying on Highway 89A and travel for about 14 miles through the historic mining town of Jerome to the junction with Forest Road 104 just before the highway descends towards Prescott Valley. Turn left onto Forest Road 104 and go about 4 miles to the campground/day-use area.
Ownership and Management: USDA Forest Service, Prescott National Forest, Verde Ranger District, 300 East Highway 260, Camp Verde, Arizona 86322. Phone: (928) 567-4121.
Closest Town: Jerome, Arizona.