Flagstaff, Arizona is known for its stunning natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities, and Mormon Lake is one of these fabulous places that is often overlooked. This picturesque lake is nestled in the Coconino National Forest and provides a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Mormon Lake was created by a natural dam and covers an area of almost 12 sq miles when full, making it the largest natural lake in Arizona. While it is fed by several small creeks and streams in the area, it does often run extremely low or even dry, often only filling up a few feet in the rainy monsoon seasons.
Even when the lake isn’t full, though, it leaves behind a lovely riparian marshland, surrounded by dense forests of ponderosa pines, aspen trees, and other native vegetation, creating a serene and secluded environment for visitors.
Photo: Merrit Thomas
During a visit to Mormon Lake, treat yourself to a relaxing hike around the surrounding Coconino National Forest, whose trails will bring you to upper ridges with perfect views of the lake, and may just lead you to an exciting sighting of an elk or a bald eagle!
If the lake does happen to have some depth to it, there’s a chance you might be able to angle for some fish, and perhaps even boat and windsurf! The area is operated by the Flagstaff Ranger Station, so call ahead (928-526-0866) to check on the lake’s current conditions.
This author reached out to the lovely people at the Country Store at Mormon Lake Lodge, and they told me that as of Feb 2023, the lake isn’t full or fishable, but there’s still plenty to do and see!
In addition to hiking and fishing, Mormon Lake is also a great place to enjoy a picnic or a campfire. There are several picnic areas and fire pits located around the lake, making it easy to find the perfect spot to heat up a cup of cocoa after a relaxing day in nature.
Want the food cooked for you? Great! The Lodge has an excellent Steakhouse ready to serve up delicious meals and tasty drinks after your adventure!
If you’re visiting April through October, saddle up a horse from AZ High Mountain Trail Rides and take in the beauty of the area from horseback. Reservations required, but the horses are right on site!
There are also plenty of campsites located on the lake’s shores, both somewhat developed or totally rugged. Make sure to check each sites rules and regulations and check in with the administrators to ensure you’re camping legally, and as always in Arizona’s beautiful wild, pack it in, pack it out!
For a cozier indoor stay, grab a family cabin at the Mormon Lake Lodge, or pull up your RV to its welcoming park and stay awhile!
No matter where you hang your hat while you stay, Mormon Lake and its surroundings provide a serene and stunning environment just outside of the energizing city of Flagstaff. Plan a visit today!
Location: 29 miles southeast of Flagstaff on a paved road. Elevation is 7,000 feet.
GPS (Map): 34°57’46.9″N 111°26’15.1″W
Access: Drive south from Flagstaff 25 miles on Forest Highway 3 (Lake Mary Road) to the Forest Road 90 intersection. Turn west on FR 90 and drive about 4 miles to the lake.