Beaver Creek Watershed - Tour of the Beaver Creek Watershed
This is a virtual, guided tour of the experimental sites on the Beaver
Creek Watershed. Below is the main tour, which begins and ends in Flagstaff,
with links to six optional side trips to experimental watershed units.
The map is available to the right of the text below or as a separate
page, follow the descriptions for the main tour to visit the watershed
and learn about the experiments in watershed management performed there
and their results. If you are planning to actually drive this tour, please
read these instructions and cautions.
The main tour begins as you head south on I-17 from Flagstaff.
Note your mileage as you cross or leave I-40. Look to the right as you
pass Kelly Canyon, 10 miles south of Flagstaff. Here, molten basalt flowed
across the landscape many years ago. As it cooled, it formed the layer
of black rocks you see on top of the red soil. Drive 19.7 miles from Flagstaff
to the Schnebly Hill Interchange, where you may exit east and visit watersheds 16 and 17 on Side Trip A. Much of the countryside enroute
to this interchange is covered by volcanic basalt.
Continue south from the Schnebly Hill Interchange on I-17. Travel 13.6
miles to the Stoneman Lake Interchange, watching for the following features
on the way.
At a point 7.8 miles south of the Schnebly Hill Interchange, you will
pass a viewpoint on the right overlooking the Verde Valley. This overlook
is situated on the edge of the Mogollon Rim, a long line of cliffs and
rugged hills angling across much of Arizona from northwest to southeast.
All water from the Beaver Creek area drains into the Verde River, which
eventually joins the Salt River. Both rivers supply reservoirs which store
water for the Phoenix area. Here, you leave the ponderosa
pine forest that covers 20 percent of the Salt-Verde Basin, and enter
the pinyon-juniper woodland that spreads over 25 percent of the Basin.
The rest of the Basin is occupied by mixed conifer forests at the highest
elevations and chaparral and desert shrub plant communities at the lowest
Exit I-17 at the Stoneman Lake Interchange and travel east 6.8 miles
on the Stoneman Lake Road (Forest Road 213) to its junction with Forest
Road 229. At this point, if you are interested in visiting only Watersheds 8 and 9,
continue 5.2 miles to the left on Road 213 to its junction with Road 239
to take Side Trip F. Otherwise, turn right on
Road 229 to continue along the main tour loop, and drive 1.9 miles to
its junction with Road 644. Enroute, you will pass through several areas
where the trees have been cleared away by cabling (see Pinyon-Juniper
Treatments and Results).
At the junction with Road 644, you may turn right to
see the experimental pinyon-juniper treatments on Side Trip B.
The group of buildings on your right just past the junction of Roads
229 and 644 is known as Watershed Camp. This camp was originally built
to serve crews who constructed stream gages on the 44 Beaver Creek experimental
and control watersheds. Now, it is used by personnel who maintain the
many structures and instruments.
From the junction of Roads 229 and 644, continue south
0.9 miles on Road 229 to its junction with Road 229F on your left, where Side Trip C begins.
Continue south on Road 229 for 2.2 miles to the junction
of Roads 229 and 230. At this point, the main route turns left on Road
230. If you wish to visit the Apache Maid Fire Lookout, proceed right
on Road 229, which becomes Side Trip D.
Upon leaving Road 229, proceed east 2.3 miles on Road
230 to its junction with Road 230C. Here, you may elect to turn left for Side Trip E.
Continue east on Road 230 for 0.6 miles, which will bring you to Stop
10 at Watershed 12. To
your left you can see the tremendous growth of oaks on the once-cleared
Continue 0.5 miles along Road 230 to Stop 11 on your left. You
are now on Watershed 14.
At Stop 11, walk 100 yards along the spur road beyond the sign to see
an example of a gaging station used to measure water flow from one of
the 24 small watersheds (see Getting the Project
Continue 4.8 miles from Stop 11 on Road 230 to its junction with Road
213. For the first 2.3 miles you are still driving through Watershed 14,
until you pass a weather station on the right. This is an excellent area
to see big game.
When you reach Road 213, you may turn left to reach Side
Trip F or Stoneman Lake (see map) or to return to I-17. Or, you may
turn right to follow the main route back to Flagstaff via Lake Mary Road
(Forest Highway 3).
From the junction of Roads 230 and 213, continue east 0.4 miles to Forest
Highway 3, the Lake Mary Road. Turn left and drive 37 miles to Flagstaff
to complete the tour. Along the way you will pass Mormon Lake, the largest
natural lake in Arizona, followed by upper and lower Lake Mary, two finger
lakes which provide part of Flagstaff's water supply.
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