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U.S. Forest Service

Southwestern Region Viewing Area


Rim Lakes Map Rim Lakes Map (PDF, 103 KB)

Ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa) and small Gambel oaks These ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa) and small Gambel oaks (Quercus gambelii) are typical of the forests in the Rim Lakes area. Photo by Charlie McDonald.

Woods Canyon Lake Woods Canyon Lake. Photo by Charlie McDonald.

fetid goosefoot The fetid goosefoot (Chenopodium graveolens) goes unnoticed most of the year, but the whole plant turns red in the fall. Photo by Charlie McDonald.

Hooker’s evening primrose Hooker’s evening primrose (Oenothera elata) grows throughout the western U.S. and blooms for most of the summer. Photo by Charlie McDonald.

Rim Lakes Recreation Area

Forest: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests

District: Black Mesa Ranger District

Description: Rim refers to the Mogollon Rim that extends nearly 200 miles from just southwest of Flagstaff to the White Mountains of eastern Arizona. The Mogollon Rim marks the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau and is thousands of feet high in some areas. The average elevation of the rim is about 7000 feet and the area is known for its ponderosa pine forests that form the largest stands of this tree in the United States. The lakes of the Rim Lakes area were created by damming small canyons that drain northward from the Mogollon Rim. Although modest in size, the lakes occupy a lovely forested setting. Woods Canyon Lake is the most popular and easily accessed. A general store and several campgrounds are near the lake.

Viewing Information: This area offers several easy nearly level trails for wildflower viewing; see Rim Lakes Map (PDF, 103 KB). There is a short nature trail near the Rocky Point Picnic Ground and a trail that goes around Woods Canyon Lake. The Rim Lake Vista Trail (Trail 622) offers great views and lots of rocky sunny exposures for wildflower habitat. This trail is 3.5 miles long and easily accessed from several points. July and August are the best months for wildflower viewing because summer rains freshen-up the vegetation, but you will find some wildflowers anytime from late May to early October.

Safety First: The Mogollon Rim is a very lightning prone area. Get out of the open and off the rim during thunderstorms; these are most frequent in the mid afternoon from early July through mid September.

Directions: From Payson, Arizona, go east on Arizona Highway 260 for 30 miles to Rim Road (Forest Road 300, which is located across from the Rim Visitor Center). From Heber, Arizona, follow Arizona Highway 260 west for 26 miles to Rim Road. This road is the main access to the Rim Lakes area. To reach Woods Canyon Lake, travel about 5 miles west on Forest Road 300, and then travel about 1 mile north on Forest Road 105.

Ownership and Management: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, Black Mesa Ranger District, P.O. Box 968, Overgaard, Arizona. Phone: (928) 535-7300.

Closest Town: The Rim Lakes area is about midway between Payson to the southwest and Heber to the northeast.