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Hike #41 – Sunrise Campground

Sunrise Campground
Sunrise Campground

Location: From the Pinetop Post Office on SR 260 (map):

  • Drive west 24.4 miles on 260 to the junction of SR 273 and turn right.
  • Drive 3.9 miles south on 273 and turn right on BIA 600 (or 58), the paved road that leads to the Sunrise Ski lifts.
  • The turn is opposite a small convenience store on the left.
  • Drive only 100 yards on this paved road and turn left on a gravel road that leads to a parking lot and a road up the hill to the Sunrise Campground.
  • When you reach the campground, turn right and drive to the western end and park out of the way, not in a regular camping spot if possible.

Trail: The campground has several loops of dirt roads that you can walk. There is one trail at the far western end that is a rarely used old road that leads to an open meadow where you can walk the tracks under the power lines.

Trailhead and Directions: There is no trailhead; just park and walk around the roads in the campground. If you wish, you can walk to the far western end, across an open area (designated as an archery range), and up a hill where there is a large water tank. Pass by the tank and continue on the old road labeled Apache Dream to the open area. Here you can see the ski runs ahead of you. You can walk along the old dirt track under the power lines to the west, but do not enter the main ski area beyond.

Access: Hiking, bicycling, horseback, and driving around the campground roads. No motorized vehicle outside the main camping area. No handicapped access except by car. An Apache Reservation permit is required.

As you drive up the hill from SR 273 you will find a trailer on the left that is the caretaker’s home. If he is outside, it is wise to stop and ask him if it is ok to drive up and walk around looking for birds for an hour or two, and that you have a permit in your car. If he is not outside, you can drive by and be ok as long as you have your permit if an official stops and asks what you are doing. We have always stopped and never have had any problem. Usually there are very few campers in the campground.

Distance: As far as you wish to walk.

Difficulty: All the loop roads around the campground are level. There are puddles and rocks in the roadway. If you walk the trail at the western end, it is uphill for about half a mile.

Features: The whole area is at 9,350 feet elevation or higher and has many flowers and birds in season. Although there are a few large Ponderosa Pines, most of the trees are Douglas-fir and Blue Spruce. At this elevation, the blooming of flowers is about three weeks behind Pinetop/Show Low. Lewis’s Flax, Silverweed, Bluebell Bell Flower, Mountain Parsley, Whipple’s Penstemon, Indian Paintbrush, Deer’s Ears, and many other flowers are abundant, especially in the meadows. In addition to the usual forest birds, look and listen for Clark’s Nutcracker and Gray Jay that are usually found here.

Connections: None.

Sunrise Campground
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