Mormon Lake - Doug Morrison Overloook
|Description: 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 limestone of the Kaibab formation dissolved. Lava flows surround the depression, and the lava escarpment of Anderson Mesa rims Hwy. 3 on the lake’s north side.
Beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife viewing throughout the year draw visitors here. At 7,300 feet in elevation, the area offers a blend of habitats, including wetlands,open water, grassland, coniferous forests and cliffs. The overlook provides a prime observation point for scanning the vast lakebed and native grasslands.
South of Mormon Lake, visitors can see vast expanses of ponderosa pine forest, as well as patches of Gambel oak, pinyon pine and juniper. Butterflies bring flashes of color to the area, which also features historic sites from early Mormon pioneers. One of these, the water pumphouse on the west side of Mormon Lake, was established by the Mormon dairy in 1878.
Wildlife to Watch: The lake supports one of the largest concentrations of wintering bald eagles in the state—the highest number of bald eagles ever recorded at one place in Arizona was counted here in 1995 (65 eagles). The overlook at Mormon Lake has interpretive signage about the eagles, and there is an osprey viewing area on Upper Lake Mary.
In addition to the eagles and osprey, there are excellent opportunities to see elk, pronghorn, and a range of waterfowl and songbirds.
Special Tips: Be cautious of elk crossing road, as well as bicyclists along the route.
Ownership: U.S.D.A. Forest Service
Size: 9 square miles
Closest Town: Mormon Lake Village
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: