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Coconino National Forest

Coconino National Forest

Conifers and other evergreen plants are the dominant type of vegetation in the Coconino National Forest. Due in part to the dry climate, deciduous trees are rare except for in some moist areas along creeks and streams. While the ponderosa pine is by far the most common tree species in the Coconino National Forest, vegetation type varies depending on the elevation of a certain area.

At the lowest elevations, in the extreme southwestern portion of the forest, actual trees are scarce and the landscape is dominated by various small shrubs and sagebrushes. At elevations between 4,500 feet and 6,500 feet (1,400−2,000 m), which includes the area surrounding Sedona, various species of juniper including the alligator juniper and the Utah juniper are predominant. Other common tree and shrubs of this environment, often classified as the "juniper-pinyon woodlands", include Arizona cypress, manzanita, and pinyon pine. Hikers often encounter Parry's agave, yuccas, and prickly pear cacti in this region as well.

The huge stands of ponderosa pine on the forest are found primarily at elevations between 6,500 feet and 8,000 feet (2,000−2,400 m). Other species scattered among this region include gambel oak, quaking aspen, and Rocky Mountain Juniper.

The highest elevations in the forest are located in the San Francisco Peaks area north of Flagstaff. Here grow large conifers such as Engelmann spruce, blue spruce, subalpine fir, corkbark fir (a variety of subalpine fir found only in isolated areas of Arizona and New Mexico), Douglas-fir, bristlecone pine, and limber pine. Isolated stands of quaking aspen, usually the first tree to regenerate following a severe wildfire, are scattered across the mountain.

Above 11,000 feet (3,400 m) is found the only alpine tundra region in Arizona. Vegetation is scarce in this region. A few small bristlecone pines are found otherwise the area is above tree line and inhabited by small grasses, lichens, and alpine wildflowers.