Mogollon Rim – Woods Canyon Lake, AZ

Marco recently got a tip about Woods Canyon Lake up at the Mogollon Rim. He was told that some Ospreys and Bald Eagles were seen fishing at the lake. And, he also learned that we should not go on a weekend since the lake is a popular destination.

No question, we have to go during the week to avoid the crowds, so we aim for Thursday. We set the alarm to 3:30am and leave the house at 4am – it takes us a little more than 2 hours to drive up to the Rim. We get there just after sunrise, the light is beautiful and the view from the Rim unbeatable. It is bitter cold with only 32F (0 Celsius) at an elevation of more than 7,000 ft (2,300 m), a welcome change to the already hot temperatures around Phoenix though. We take some deep breaths taking the view in and then continue to Woods Canyon Lake – we even see a herd of elk grazing in the forest.

The camp grounds are still closed and there are only a few fisherman there at 6:15am. We grab the camera and the binoculars and soon discover Ospreys sitting in the trees around the lake, at one point I count 6 of them. But, they are not fishing. We watch them fly over the lake, but they stay up high. On the grounds we see Stellar’s Jays (a nice blue and black bird), Robins and other smaller birds, very shy tree squirrels and super cute chipmunks.

We hike about 3 miles around the whole lake, enjoying the gorgeous scenery, the peace and quiet and the wonderful smells of pine needles and mushrooms. The sun is warming us up quickly and we start taking off layers until even I walk in shorts and short sleeves.

After our tour we find a nice spot at Willow Springs Lake, another lake just a few miles away. No fishing Ospreys there either, unfortunately.

Since we are only about 20 miles from Heber we take the opportunity to look for the Heber Wild Horses in the afternoon. We follow the guidelines Marco received from a friend from the Salt River Horse Management Group a while ago. We drive further towards Heber (we see 2 mares with their foals) then turn right towards Black Canyon Lake and keep driving on this gravel road. We find a few horses, but not as many as expected. About 8 miles before we get to Heber we pass a huge ranch in the middle of nowhere, it looks pretty new with a massive log house, huge pastures, their own solar panels, amazing. In the evening at home I find out more about this mansion.

Well, I guess you can’t always be lucky when going after wild life. It takes a lot patience and being at the right place at the right time.

Nevertheless, it was a beautiful day – we’ll be back!

2 thoughts on “Mogollon Rim – Woods Canyon Lake, AZ”

  1. Worth getting up early.
    You happened to see extraordinary birds and animals. I like the picture of the chipmunk (Streifenhörnchen) at his morning prayer!
    Cacciatore

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