By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 2/18/2020
Posted: 10/9/2010
Topics/Keywords: #SanFranciscoPeaks #Arizona #Tonopah Page Views: 3311
I make another try at camping at Lockett Meadow.

Last week I tried to visit Lockett Meadow in the San Francisco Peaks but was thwarted by a stolen cell phone, which ironically saved me from being caught in last weekend's storms. But I was determined to try again this weekend. And left this morning. (But don't keep reading just to see pictures of Lockett Meadow, because I never made it.)

Any visitor coming to Flagstaff has his or her attention arrested by the very high mountain just north of it.

The San Francisco Peaks

The highest of the peaks, Humphrey's, is 12,633 feet in altitude (over Flagstaff which itself is at 6,912 feet).

To reach Lockett Meadow, one drives east of Flagstaff and then north on US 89 toward Sunset Crater National Monument. My GPS wanted me to turn left onto a forest road just past the Monument (which is on the right), but there was no sign of a road there. That's okay; the forest roads come and go. I had spotted one just south of the Monument entrance so took that one, instead.

The Forest Road to Lockett Meadow.

As you can see, the road, which gravel, is pretty well maintained; and the weather was flawless. a nice 67.

Pines in the San Francisco Peaks foothills.

The San Francisco Peaks are a volcanic mountain range (consisting of extinct volcanoes) adjacent to Sunset Crater, which is a dormant (but still living) volcano. Sunset Crater, the youngest of the chain, last erupted in 1024 CE. These peaks last erupted more like 100,000 years ago.

Anyway, I came to an intersection with a sign for Lockett Meadow, and an arrow—which was covered over by a piece of paper, which didn't bode well. But I made the turn anyway, which put me on a less-maintained forest road.

Another forest road.

The gentle hills and exuberant Ponderosa pines made the place seem very peaceful. I got out of the SUV to take a photo, and inhaled the fresh, mountain air. I also noticed that the road was still damp from last week's storms, which included seven tornadoes.

Gentle hills and pines.

My considerations were brought to an abrupt end, when I came to a roadblock. ROAD CLOSED the sign said. I knew that the road to Lockett Meadow closed sometime in October, but we'd had no snow so I didn't expect it to be so soon. Now, as I thought about it, I realized that the tornadoes had probably caused enough damage that the Forest Service went ahead and shut down the road for the heck of it. I would not be camping in Lockett Meadow in 2010 unless I decided to hike there.

Which I didn't.

I did make a few feeble attempts at finding an alternative route. But each road was less promising than the one before, plus I had no idea if any of them was, in fact, an alternate route to Lockett Meadow.

One of the more remote Forest Service roads.

So I gave up, drove the miles back to Phoenix. But I had all my camping gear, and planned to camp tonight. So when I got to the Valley I headed West instead of East, and got to El Dorado Hot Spring in Tonopah just about sunset.

Sunset in Tonopah, Arizona.

So, instead of shivering tonight at 8,000 feet plus altitude, I'll be soaking in a hot spring for hours before melting into my air mattress.

I love Arizona!