Apache Maid Mountain and Stoneman Lake are in a beautiful corner of the Coconino National Forest about 15 miles southeast of Sedona. Up here at around 6,500 feet you’ll find tall ponderosa pine forest, several natural springs, and lush forest meadows. It feels like heaven, especially after escaping the heat at lower elevations.
Keep an ear open for the no-see-ums though (or juniper gnats as the locals call them) - these pesky little gnats will form swarms and bite you, leaving itchy red welts on the skin. They are so tiny you won’t normally see them; hence the name, but you can sure hear their ear piercing buzz. If you keep moving, even at a walking pace, you're fine. And a good breeze will usually keep them at bay.
It’s amazing how much things change when going up a few thousand feet in elevation. It’s obvious that that with the rain and snow there is much more moisture up here…and it shows with the variety of plant life and tall pines.
At 7,301 feet, Apache Maid Mountain is the perfect place to knock off a few more degrees on the old thermometer. There is a road to the top and a fire lookout tower (no longer in use) on the summit. The views from here are excellent so bring along the camera. It’s best to visit Apache Maid Mountain on a breezy day, as the no-see-ums can get pretty bad up here when it’s calm.
Stoneman Lake is one of Arizona’s natural lakes and is thought to have been created by a deep, collapsed sinkhole. This medium-sized lake has a boat ramp, parking lot, and picnic area. Wildlife viewing, bird watching, and photography are popular activities at Stoneman Lake.
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Apache Maid Mountain Video Slideshow
Apache Maid Mountain Camping: The Apache Maid Mountain and Stoneman Lake area is rather popular for camping. Thankfully, there are many great camping spots. No campgrounds here - this is boondocking territory! Just take I-17 exit 306 for Stoneman Lake Road (FR-213) and once you reach the T-intersection either go left, to Stoneman Lake, or right on FR-229 to Apache Maid Mountain. Whether you’re RV boondocking, tent camping, or car camping you should have no problem finding a little slice of heaven at 6,500 feet.
For more information on Stoneman Lake visit the Coconino National Forest web page.
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