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Your guide to White Mountains
Welcome to White Mountains
Arizona’s White Mountains are home to an embarrassment of natural riches. The highest peak, Mount Baldy — so named for its largely unforested dome — towers more than 11,000 feet over the verdant two-million-acre Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. This spectacular package is perched on the Mogollon Rim, a 200-mile stretch of dramatic cliffs that offer panoramic views of the Arizona landscape. Fragrant stands of ponderosa pine, more than 50 alpine lakes and streams, and scenic trails make the White Mountains a nexus for fishing, hiking, and birdwatching. Among the feathered residents of these mountains are bald eagles and the rare three-toed woodpecker. In the winter, skiers and snowboarders arrive in droves to swoosh around the local ski resort. Outdoor recreation is the main draw of White Mountains, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for relaxation, too. When you’re ready to rest your hiking boots, small mountain towns like Pinetop-Lakeside and Show Low beckon with antique shops, restaurants, and homegrown museums.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in White Mountains?
Summer and winter are undoubtedly the favored seasons here, but the White Mountains are appealing year round. Due to the high elevation, this is an ideal escape during summer when temperatures soar in Arizona. Every June the sky above Pinetop-Mountain Lake fills with dozens of brightly colored hot-air balloons as the town celebrates the White Mountains Hot-Air Balloon Festival. In spring, wildflowers bloom, and in fall the leaves of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest turn vibrant shades of gold, orange, and red. The landscape transforms into a snowy wonderland every winter, and the mountains buzz with snow sports enthusiasts.
What are the top things to do in White Mountains?
Fort Apache Historical Park
Much of the White Mountains are within White Mountain Apache tribal lands, which includes Fort Apache, a former military encampment built by the United States government in the late 19th century. Today the fort is a historical site run by the tribe alongside a museum that celebrates Apache culture and sells basketry, beadwork, and other arts. Four miles west of the fort you can visit the Kinishba Ruins, inhabited by the Zuni and Hopi people until 1400 A.D.
White Mountain Trail System
Starting in 1987, volunteers began carving out this wide-ranging trail system, which navigates territory around Pinetop-Lakeside and Show Low. The idea was to create a network of non-motorized trails made of increasingly large loops. This means you never have to pass the same sight twice.
Show Low Museum
This quirky little museum devoted to the history of the town of Show Low is filled with objects donated by the local community, including an old telephone switchboard, knife collections, taxidermy, and a homemade cannon built by a local antiques store owner who accidentally blew out the back of his store with it.