RV Camping in the Arizona Woods – Coconino National Forest

June 2019 – Arizona is one of America’s most beautiful and varied states, but lots of people think of it as a place that has only cactus and dry desert landscapes. The surprising thing is that Arizona is home to several radically different types of ecosystems that vary by altitude, and lately we’ve been enjoying some wonderful forest camping in the pines at a cool 7,500′ elevation.

Happy RV campers in the forest-min

We’ve been enjoying warm days and cool nights in the forests of northern Arizona.

Deep in the ponderosa pine woods of Coconino National Forest we’ve been getting out on small two track trails to see what we can find.

RZR ride on a trail in the forest-min

Our RZR took us on some cool two-track dirt roads.

While most of the scenery is just woodsy landscapes filled with pine trees, one day we came across a small stream.

Polaris RZR on the trail in the forest-min

What a neat surprise it was to find a small stream!

It was early morning, and as we followed the streambed we saw some fantastic mirror-like reflections in the almost-still water. In an instant we parked the RZR and began exploring on foot.

Beautiful stream in the woods-min

The reflections in the glassy water were very pretty.

Forest stream in the woods-min


Reflections in a forest stream-min

I just loved this rock and its mirror image!

Puppy wades into a forest stream-min

Buddy marched right into the reflections.

Stream reflections-min


After a nice stream-side stroll, we got back in the RZR to explore some more trails and then got out on foot again to hike in the woods and soak in the peace and solitude.

All of a sudden, we saw a wooden cross near a tree. As we came closer we noticed a big pile of stones in front of it.

Was someone buried out here?

Grave in the woods-min

Is that a grave? Yikes! Whose??!!!

The wooden cross was well constructed. When we bent down to get a better look at it, we noticed it had a dog collar wrapped tightly around it. We could see the word “Good” hand-written in pen on the visible part of the collar. Maybe it said “Good Dog” on it?

Carved into the varnished wood was the name, “Mause” (perhaps an “r” was under the collar?). The words “Bird dog” and “Companion” had been carved on it too. On either side of the cross were the dates 11/04 and 04/18. He’d lived to be about 13 1/2 years old.

You could tell just how much this dog was loved by the care with which his owner had buried him. There were flowers placed under the cross. We wondered why this particular spot had been chosen and if it had a special meaning to the owner or the dog, or both.

Grave marker cross in the woods-min

Beloved bird dog “Mause” lies here.

We left the dog to rest in peace but returned to the little stream a few more times during our stay in the woods. Buddy just loved it there, and he’d run in crazy circles between the two of us to let us know just how great he thought this place was.

Perhaps that bird dog had loved the spot near the tree in the woods just as much as Buddy loved this little stream.

Puppy plays on the rocks in a forest stream-min

Buddy loved coming to this stream.

Puppy poses on a rock in a forest stream-min

In between poses, Buddy ran in happy circles between us.

These were lazy, happy days for the three of us, and Mark and I both took endless photos of our playful puppy as he posed and pranced along the stream.

Taking pics of puppy in the forest-min

Mark caught me taking Buddy’s pic…

Pretty puppy poses by a stream in the woods-min

And here’s the pic I took!

Puppy in the forest-min

At home in the woods.

Puppy poses on a rock in a stream-min

Posing one way…

A puppy poses on a rock in a stream-min

…and then the other!

We planned for this year to be our test-run with the new RZR to see if it was fun enough to bring along in our future travels. Even though the triple towing is a bit of a hassle (but, really, would maneuvering a 44′ to 47′ toy hauler be any easier?) we’re finding that our little 4×4 buggy is taking us places we would never get to otherwise.

Polaris RZR adventure on a forest trail-min


Forest reflections in the early morning-min

A beautiful place for reflection.

Other years we have traveled through five states by June. But covering shorter distances and staying for longer in each place has given us wonderful rewards this year.

Early morning by a forest stream-min


Sunburst between the trees in the forest-min

The morning sun twinkles between the trees.

Sunrise in the forest-min

Dawn light.

Fifth wheel RV in the forest at sunset-min

Sometimes it’s nice just to relax in the forest and get away from it all!

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18 thoughts on “RV Camping in the Arizona Woods – Coconino National Forest

  1. What a beautiful place. So happy that Buddy loved it too. Perhaps he smelled the other dog. What a lovely tribute from a bereaved owner. It is so nice to travel less & experience more. Soo relaxing!!! Soak up the mountain air. 🙂

    • You are so right! Just a few minutes ago as we were relaxing with coffee on our little patio and watching the shadows move across the patio mat, we were talking about how for three years we went long distances to see cool things far away. It was awesome and we loved every minute of it, but it’s so nice to take a break for a year and stop to smell the flowers and the woods!!!

  2. We love the high country in AZ too, and while still working in Phoenix we used to run up to dry camping spots on the Mogollon Rim for weekend escapes from the heat! Having the RAZer has really opened up a lot more of the forests to you, so nice 😊 it’s also nice to see that you guys are spending more time in one place – you mentioned last year some frayed nerves and even Buddy being anxious about a lot of travel time. Slower is definitely less stressful for us!
    I’ve also been wondering if you can use it on public roads and highways, rather than using your truck to run errands? I’m sure it’s far more economical to run than your truck is.
    Love your posts, Emily, and the great photos. Thanks for all you guys do for the RV community 😉

    • Oh my. Thank YOU for reading our various goodies, Sally.

      Like you did, most Phoenicians dash out of the heat on summer weekends and drive to the higher elevations, and we used to be among them. It’s so funny when you’re accustomed to 115 degree heat to face sub-freezing nighttime temps and huddle around the campfire in down jackets!!

      We’ve always advise travelers to slow down, but if you’re going across country and back in one year you have to keep moving. Last year’s dash from Montana to Michigan’s U.P. to Arizona in the space of 2 months was hard on all of us and Buddy grew to dislike the truck. But he’s okay with it now as long as we don’t do a lot of one night stands in a row. He’s loving these longer stays, but he’s very cute when we start to pack up. He mopes and lies with his head on his paws watching us with this really forlorn look on his face!!

      The RZR is a blast. It is licensed for the road, so we can take it almost anywhere. It can go 55 mph pretty easily, so secondary highways are okay. It’s fun to use it for errands, and it’s very maneuverable, and Buddy loves it!! It gets about 15 mpg but the truck does too (or even better on highways!).

  3. Great report, but they all are! The Kaibab Plateau – North Rim of the Grand Canyon, is wonderful too with boondocking – our favorite. So peaceful indeed and great photos.

  4. We made it to Flagstaff for the first time last month; I really like the area! I’d really appreciate knowing where you found a spot big enough for your RV. We drove through several areas of the Coconino with no luck.

  5. Emily,
    Beautiful pictures. Love seeing Puppy Chow soaking up nature and having a good time. Touching gravesite of Mause, the dog.

    • We keep our cameras in Manual for the most part (sometimes Mark likes to use Aperture Priority or Program Mode for “street photography” where we’re snapping snapshots quickly). Then we choose a shutter speed and aperture that make sense for the scene, depending on whether we want things sharp or blurred in various parts of the image. There are some fabulous books and websites we used to learn photography, and we’ve got them plus all our equipment choices listed here. Thanks for following our adventures and have fun with your photography!

  6. Emily,
    We didn’t know that were you guys! You and Buddy came walking up behind us on the Arizona Trail when Buddy surprised us chasing a squirrel. We were camped about a mile north of you guys; small Lance TT, black PU Truck. We “beeped” on the way out but got stuck behind that monstrous Class A diesel pusher towing an equally big-box trailer trying get out of the meadow.
    Had I known it were you (in a sense glad we didn’t) I could have really picked Mark’s brain about your solar setup for too long a time!
    I had bookmarked your website years ago as a reference to all things “RV Power” related. I needed a few questions answered about cabling and once again referred to your site when I noticed this blog. “Hey, I know that dog – Buddy,” I exclaimed to my wife! “Hey, that’s that gal Emily that we talked to! Remember?” What a hoot!
    You, Mark, and Buddy take care of yourselves and we hope to see you guys again in the woods. Say Hi if you ever come through Flagstaff.

    • How totally cool is that! I hope you enjoyed your hike that day. It was fun chatting for a few moments on the beautiful Arizona trail while Buddy chased squirrels. It was too funny when we thought he’d disappeared in the woods and found he was lying right behind me!

      Sometimes when we see other folks camping nearby Mark will say, “I bet those folks know your website!” and I always say, “Naaaaa… not possible.” But we do get recognized from time to time, and it is always a pleasure to meet people who have read our various goodies online or in the RV magazines. If you have any questions about solar cabling, please don’t hesitate to ask. We’re not experts, but we’ll share what we’ve learned.


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