Kaibab National Forest Road Guide - Arizona Scenic Drives


Fall Colors Automobile Tour
A picture-taking drive through the North Kaibab in the fall can be a colorful experience. The places where the best fall colors occur are listed below.

If you are starting from Kanab Fredonia, a trip that includes a picnic lunch is recommended. The round trip, including scenic viewing, will take about six to eight hours in a sedan.

Climatic variations cause leaf color changes to occur at slightly different times from year to year. Therefore, if you can plan your trip a week or two in advance, it is recommended that you contact the District Office in Fredonia for their latest information. If you plan to be in the area anytime between the last week in September and the middle of October, the trip will be worthwhile, even if you miss the peak color change. Fall colors on the Kaibab Plateau are spectacular!

Occasionally at this time of year the North Kaibab receives an early snowstorm. Watch the weather.

Suggested Route: Jacob Lake-DeMotte-Dry Park-Big Springs-Ryan-Jacob Lake.
Round Trip from Jacob Lake: Approximately 125 miles; 4 hours, with short stops.
Road Conditions: 53 miles on blacktop; 72 miles on good gravel, but about half the gravel road distance is winding and slow.
Maps: Kaibab Recreation Map, North Kaibab Ranger District.
Telephone Hill: 13 miles south of Jacob Lake (along AZ 67).
Little Round Valley: 4 miles south of Telephone Hill (along AZ 67).
VT Lake: 6 miles south of Little Round Valley (along AZ 67).
DeMotte Park: starts just south of VT Lake (along AZ 67).
Dry Park: 8 miles northwest of DeMotte (along FR422).
Big Springs: 12 miles north of Dry Park (along FR 422).
Ryan: 6 1/2 miles north of Big Springs (along FR 422).
Buck Ridge: 4 miles east of Ryan (along FR 462).

Alternate Side Trip: Quaking Aspen Spring: Turn south from FR 422 about 2 miles west of AZ 67 (south of DeMotte) and go 1 mile on FR 270, then turn west on FR 222; go 5 miles and turn south onto FR 206 and continue for about 4 miles to the Spring. When returning to FR 422 follow FR 206 back about 9 miles.

Bull Basin Road

This route provides outstanding views of Kendrick Mountain, the highest peak in Kaibab National Forest (10,400 feet). Initially, it leads through a mixed environment of prairie, scattered ponderosa pine, and some pinyon-juniper woodland, providing good views of Kendrick to the east. After turning on FR 90, the route climbs into a ponderosa pine forest and passes through several small open grasslands, offering views of the north and northwest sides of the mountain. Vistas back to the west are panoramic. The route ends at one of the best close-up views of the north slopes of Kendrick Mountain, at Bull Basin.

The area bordering FR 90 is also an excellent place to see wildlife. In the fall, it provides splendid views of the aspens on Kendrick Mountain as they turn a brilliant gold.

Length: About 8.5 miles.
Road Conditions: Gravel suitable for sedans to FR 90. The last 3.5 miles in dry weather is suitable for high-clearance vehicles only.
Driving Time: 4 hrs round trip from Williams.
Recommended Season: Late spring, summer, early fall.

This route starts at the junction of FR 141 and FR 144, about 10 miles north of Parks and about 13 miles east of AZ 64. From here, go north on FR 144 for about 3 miles to FR 90. Turn right on FR 90 and continue about 5 miles to FR 90A. Go right approximately one mile to Bull Basin. (Bull Basin itself is privately owned.) An alternate route to FR 90 is to travel south for about 9.5 miles on FR 144 from its junction with US 180 between Flagstaff and AZ 64. This is a dry weather road. Check at Ranger District office for current conditions.

A trip to Bull Basin can easily be combined with a tour of Spring Valley or Government Prairie.

Government Prairie Road

This route passes through the heart of Government Prairie, a broad expanse of grassland that stands out in stark contrast to the surrounding forest. The area is dotted with hills covered with grass rather than shrubs or trees, a feature unique in this primarily forested area. Sometimes during the summer it is possible to see pronghorn antelope grazing on the slopes of these hills or in the wide open spaces between them. This road offers superb views of the San Francisco Peaks to the east and to the north one can see Kendrick Mountain, the tallest peak in the Kaibab National Forest at 10,400 feet.

Please note that some roads leading off the main road in Government Prairie are closed to motorized vehicle travel to protect the area's fragile soil, especially on the hills. Past vehicle use in certain parts of this area has resulted in damage to hillside soil and increased erosion.

Length: 8.5 miles.
Road Condition: Gravel, suitable for sedans for about 4 miles. The last 4.5 miles is dry weather only suitable for high-clearance vehicles.
Driving Time: 4 hrs round trip from Williams.
Recommended Season: Late spring, summer, early fall.

Government Prairie Road (FR 107) is a north-south travel route whose southern access is located at its junction with Forest Road 146. The road travels north for around 8.5 miles before it ends at FR 141 near Spring Valley. This is a dry weather road. Check at Ranger District office for current conditions. This tour is easily combined with the Bull Basin trip, and/or the tour of Spring Valley.

Spring Valley Road

The road passes through a pinyon-juniper woodland as it enters the Forest from the west. Within a few miles, the vegetation changes to ponderosa pine and the north side of Sitgreaves Mountain and its larger neighbor to the east, Kendrick Mountain, come into view. The road then angles south through Spring Valley, maintaining good views of Sitgreaves Mountain all the way. This area contains a number of small but scenic aspen groves. South of Sanderson Pass, the road traverses the west edge of Government prairie with outstanding views of the San Francisco Peaks to the east, near Flagstaff.

Length: 23 miles.
Road Conditions: Gravel, suitable for passenger cars.
Driving Time: 4 hrs round trip from Williams.
Recommended Season: Late spring, summer, early fall.

Spring Valley Road is the local name for the portion of Forest Road 141 that lies north of I-40. It is also often referred to as the "County Road." The west end intersects with State Route 64 about 5.5 miles north of 1-40; the east end joins old U.S. 66 (FR 146) at Parks.

Williams Loop Road (FR 108)

This route offers some good wildlife watching and good views of Bill Williams Mountain. Coleman Lake is a waterfowl nesting area and a good area for birding. The Loop Road takes you there by way of a route that passes through scenic forests and wide open prairies.

Length: 16 miles.
Road Conditions: Gravel, suitable for passenger cars.
Driving Time: 3 hrs round trip from Williams.
Recommended Season: Late spring to fall.

Head south on Perkinsville Road (FR 173) 7 miles, turn right on Road 108 and follow the signs. For access from the west, use Interstate 40 to Devil Dog Interchange, go under the Interstate to Road 108 and turn right.

Bill Williams Mountain Road (FR 111)

This is a scenic route right to the top of the mountain. It is a good trip to take in the fall when the leaves are changing. Once on top, you have excellent views of the San Francisco Peaks, the Prescotti/Chino Valley areas, and the Grand Canyon to the north.

Length: 6 miles.
Road Conditions: Gravel, suitable for high-clearance vehicles.
Driving Time: 2.5 hrs round trip from Williams.
Recommended Season: Late spring to fall.

Take the Perkinsville Road (FR 173) south to FR and turn right. This road is closed in winter.

Twin Springs Road (FR 122)

This road is located on the south side of Bill Williams Mountain. It offers some excellent views of the surrounding countryside as it proceeds on to Williams Loop Road.

Length: 7 miles.
Road Conditions: Dirt, 4WD recommended for the last 3 miles.
Driving Time: 2.5 hours round trip from.
Recommended Season: Late spring to fall.

Take the Perkinsville Road (FR173) south for 6 miles and turn right on FR 122.

Perkinsville Road (FR 173)

In the fall, this road is a good route to take to enjoy the changing colors of the area's aspen groves. Approximately 12 miles south, Vista Point offers excellent views of Mingus Mountain, the Bradshaw Mountains and the Verde Valley. From there you can continues on to Jerome, a historic mining town, or you can turn right where the pavement ends and continue on to Drake and 89A (Prescott/Ash Fork).

Length: 24 miles to end of pavement.
Road Conditions: Paved to Drake Road, beyond that not always suitable for sedans.
Driving Time: 2 hours round trip
Recommended Season: Late spring to fall.

Head south out of Williams on 4th Street (FR 173). Round Mountain.

Round Mountain

The top of the mountain offers broad scenic views of the surrounding area, and the road leading there takes you through all types of vegetation along the way (pine, oak, aspen and grassland). The drive is rugged, but once you reach the top, you'll have an excellent view of Sycamore Canyon Wilderness.

Length: 24 miles.
Road Conditions: Gravel, passable in dry weather only.
Driving Time: 4 hrs round trip from Williams.
Recommended Season: Late spring to fall.

Head south of Williams on 4th Street. Turn left onto FR 110 to the junction of FR 105. Turn right and proceed on FR 105. The roads to Round Mountain are FR 138 and 138A. After coming back to FR 105, proceed on FR 105 to FR 354, turn right and the road finally ties into the Perkinsville Road (FR 173) near Summit Mountain.

Garland Prairie Road

The western end of this route traverses a portion of the ponderosa pine belt that makes up two-thirds of the area of the Chalender District. The eastern part travels through Garland Prairie, one of the two largest prairies in the District. Pronghorn antelope may be found in Garland Prairie in the summer months, as this is part of their summer range. Panoramic views of the surrounding area can be seen from here.

Length: 21 miles.
Road conditions: Suitable for sedans.
Driving Time: 2 to 3 hours round trip.
Recommended Season: Spring through fall from Williams.

Garland Prairie Road (FR 141) begins and ends at I-40. The western end leaves I-40 at the Garland Prairie Road exit #167 about 4 miles east of Williams. The eastern end leaves I-40 at the Parks Road exit #178 near Parks.


From its point of entry on the western edge of the Forest, I-40 passes through pinyon and juniper woodlands as it climbs into the ponderosa pine stands of the Forest's higher elevations. Along the way it passes through a number of broad open spaces such as Garland Prairie in the eastern portion of the Chalender Ranger District.

Davenport Lake on the western side of the Forest can be a place of special interest. In the spring when it is full of water, ducks and other waterfowl are common on the lake. Deer and elk may also be seen drinking from it in the early morning or evening. As the lake dries out in the summer, it is not unusual to see deer and elk grazing in the open green meadow left by the receding lake.

Sitgreaves Mountain is easily seen to the north of the highway, and good views of Kendrick Mountain and the San Francisco Peaks are noticeable in the distance.

Length: 35 miles.
Road Condition: Suitable for sedans.
Driving Time: 0.5 hours.
Recommended Season: Year-round.

Interstate-40 crosses through northern Arizona traversing the Chalender and Williams Ranger Districts in an east-west direction. It enters the Forest about 1 mile east of the City of Ash Fork, and continues east towards Flagstaff for about 35 miles before leaving the Forest.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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