|Mormon Lake - Doug Morrison Overloook|
Mormon Lake is the largest natural lake in Arizona, though water levels vary dramatically from year to year, and in drought conditions the lake has been known to go completely dry. Mormon Mountain looms on the west side of the lake. The lake was formed in a natural depression created as the limes...
Raymond Ranch Wildlife Area
|Description: The Raymond Ranch Wildlife Area was a working ranch before 1942, and today it offers the opportunity to view pronghorn, elk, mule deer, and buffalo. Tucked away in the grasslands at the foot of Anderson Mesa, a trail leads to a unique view of the San Francisco Peaks, especially impressive when the peaks are snow-covered.
Also of interest are earth cracks in the Kaibab limestone throughout the area; an interpretive sign highlighting earth cracks is along the trail. These cracks often reveal themselves as only small openings on the surface but can be quite deep and extensive.
Sunrise and sunset are magical times on these grasslands, and the views can be spectacular. But be prepared for rapid weather changes and winds. There are few times when the wind is not blowing on Raymond Ranch.
Wildlife to Watch: Watch for pronghorn and elk as you drive along the Buffalo Range Road from I-40; a herd of pronghorn is often seen in the first 2 miles. Look for elk where the road crosses Anderson Canyon, especially in the early morning or late afternoon. Drive the east road, which intersects the Buffalo Range Road 50 feet north of the second cattleguard for the chance to see the buffalo herd. The east road requires a high-clearance vehicle.
Look for Gunnison’s prairie dogs along the Buffalo Range Road at the first cattleguard. The burrows are always visible but prairie dogs hibernate and are not visible from November until March. Burrowing owls also nest in this prairie dog town and are active from June until September. On the west side of the Buffalo Range Road, 1.3 miles north of the Anderson Canyon Crossing, look for another Gunnison’s prairie dog town. In spring and fall, Ferruginous hawks and Golden eagles are often seen near here. Prairie dog towns, wetlands, and bison herd can be viewed from vehicles.
Special Tips: Heavy rainfall during summer monsoons make the Buffalo Range Road nearly impassable. Where the road crosses Anderson Canyon (4 miles south of I-40) the canyon may be flowing water several feet deep, which prohibits crossing by even 4WD vehicles.
Other Activities: 1.3 mile loop trail near the headquarters with interpretive signs. Steep trail leads to San Francisco Peak view.
Ownership: Arizona Game & Fish Department, Arizona State Land Department
Size: 14,000 acres
Closest Town: Flagstaff
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: