Spring in the White Mountains, Springerville, AZ
Wondering about the best time of year to visit Springerville in the White Mountains of Arizona? Just about every guidebook and travel website out there will tell you it’s October, when the fall foliage is at its peak or in the winter when the ski season is at its best. As you plan your vacation, check with the Springerville Chamber of Commerce (928) 333-2123 to get information on our various hotels… or if you prefer, we have several guest ranches as well. Come visit the Wild West and get away from it all.
If you have recently visited our area for its great skiing this past winter, come back to share in our beautiful spring weather as spring has its treasures, too. The grass grows greener and the fragrance of flowers fill the air, snow still clings to the mountains; in fact, it’s not unusual to see flakes fall in April and May. Black bears, found in several counties, awaken from their winter slumber and emerge from their dens with cubs in tow. The bull elk grow new racks; the loons swim around with their newly hatched babies; and fiddlehead ferns, my favorite sign of spring, pop out of the ground.
The town of Springerville, known as the Gateway to the White Mountains, is in the northeastern part of Arizona. The mountains cover one-third of Arizona, yet only a small percentage of the state’s residents call this region home. It’s a beautiful varied landscape from tall mountain peaks, lush meadows, volcanoes, and ranch land. Winter is sometimes slow to loosen its frosty grip on the White Mountains. In May, summer attractions include boating and fishing in the many lakes and streams. Hiking, horseback riding, and ATVs are also excellent spring/summer sports that draw many to our area. The cool mountain air and scenery is spectacular if you just choose to get away for the weekend. We still get chilly nights, so be sure to bring a jacket.
Beginning Memorial Day weekend, you can take the aerial tramway to the summit. The highest mountain is Mount Baldy: Dził Łigai (White Mountain). It is the highest point in the White Mountains and Apache County. It is the fifth highest point in the state, and the highest outside the San Francisco Peaks in the Flagstaff area. With a summit elevation of 11,409 feet the peak of Mount Baldy rises above the tree line and is left largely bare of vegetation, lending the mountain its current name. The summit of Mount Baldy is within the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and is off-limits to hikers without permission. Mount Baldy is one of the most sacred mountains to the Apache of Arizona. Mount Baldy also contains the headwaters of the Little Colorado River and Salt River and produces the most abundant trout fishing streams in Arizona. No other mountain in Arizona produces as many rivers and streams. Along its slope are numerous man made lakes.
At lower elevations you’ll find an abundance of wildlife around the lakes, ponds, and rivers. Elk especially enjoy the water early in the morning or late in the day in June. If you’re a birding enthusiast, our area is the place to be in the spring!
We also have Sipe Wildlife area: Recreational opportunities include wildlife viewing and photography, picnicking and hiking to historic and prehistoric cultural sites. A small visitor center is also located at the site. Visitors are encouraged to look through the center first and then explore the grounds to enhance their wildlife viewing experience. Move about the property freely by hiking, biking or horseback riding on one of four trails leading to wetlands, meadows and old homesteads.
A variety of raptors, including osprey, American kestrel, hawks, golden eagle and peregrine falcon, can be spotted throughout the wildlife area. In summer, rufous and broad-tailed hummingbirds concentrate here and are easily photographed. Lewis’ and acorn woodpeckers and mountain bluebird are easily found. The best birding location at Sipe is along Rudd Creek and in the orchard and tall trees around the visitor center.
Other wildlife to look for are gray fox, striped skunk, badger, coyote, mule deer, Merriam’s turkey, pronghorn antelope, and a variety of ground squirrels, chipmunks and bats. There’s a high probability of seeing elk and antelope at sunrise and sunset.
Escudilla Mountain is dog-friendly, kid-friendly, and holds countless opportunities for birding, hiking, mountain biking, nature trips, numerous trails, horseback riding, abundant wildlife, and views, views, views—certainly a must on your TO DO list while in the area.