Arizona has to be one of the most beautiful states in the country. It is known for the Grand Canyon, but there is also a part of Arizona that many people are not aware of, the remote White Mountains of Northeastern Arizona.
Situated in Navajo County, it is a 3.5 hour drive up the mountains from the Phoenix area. Fort Apache, is only a 30 miles drive down the mountains from Pinetop-Lakeside and is rich in history. Arrowhead Cafe, offers authentic Apache food, that is locally grown and sourced.
Looking to travel into the unknown or slightly off grid? Head to the White Mountains of northeastern Arizona, The ponderosa pine trees smell amazing and your likely to see wild horses, moose, bobcats and coyotes on your travels.
I arrived in Phoenix at 10:00pm on August 4, 2019, the temperature was 94 degrees. Luckily for me, I was flying up to the White Mountains the next morning where the temperatures were about 25 degrees cooler due to higher elevation.
Being back in a familiar place, I realized how much I had missed the mountains. I loved the smell of ponderosa pine trees in the dry arid winds of Northeastern Arizona. Back in the Midwest, summer was sweltering with high humidity. The change in scenery was welcoming. I often feel the need to leave home to find inspiration and to see the world with new eyes. Although I had moved away from Arizona, I felt in a way that I had come home.
I had traveled back for a work assignment and decided to bring my new husband of one month and one week. Together we explored familiar and unfamiliar trails, hiking rocky mountain paths around lakes and forests. Our nights were spent at a local motel called Antler’s Inn where we played evening games of horseshoes and sat around a campfire watching the sunset into the mountain sky.
The trip provided a welcoming relief from everyday stressors. I often encourage other people to travel and explore. Life can easily become mundane and dull. Although the White Mountains are not a new place or destination for me, they sparked and ignited my senses again through sights, sounds, and tastes.
Sometimes going away from home makes us homesick, and sometimes going away, brings us back.
I knew that I was traveling to a remote part of the country, but I didn’t realize how far away I was actually going until I boarded my last flight out of Phoneix on a tiny Pilatus PC-12 aircraft that seats eight passengers maximum, eventually landing on top of the beautiful White Mountains of Arizona.
I was informed that I would be tired as I adjusted to the elevation of over 7000 feet, as my body began to build red blood cells to adjust to the thin atmosphere. Not only was I tired due to the altitude, but I also had to adjust to the time change after having traveled over 2,200 miles, beginning in Eastern Standard Time and ending in Mountain Standard Time.
My week was spent exploring the area, meeting interesting people and hearing their stories, as some travelled through, while others have made their homes amongst the mountains.
Mountain life is different from the mainstream, but if you are seeking a place of raw natural beauty, where the goal of life isn’t commercialism or consumerism, then the White Mountains is a place where you will find happiness through aromatic ponderosa pines, beautiful lakes and rivers, and seeing elk and wild horses roaming the landscape.
My week in the White Mountains gave me a taste of mountain life and a respect for the people who live there. A beautiful place with heart and wild natural soul.