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Six Campgrounds with Beautiful Views Along the East Fork of the Black River - Apache National Forest

Aug 17, 2007
There are six campgrounds in Apache National Forest along the East Fork of the Black River - all within a few miles of each other. We visited these campgrounds in late November, 2006. The Black River is more of a stream than a river - but it's beautiful, remote and pristine. If you're coming from Alpine, AZ, as you head south on Forest Route 276, the campgrounds are in the following order: Diamond Rock, Aspen, Deer Creek, Raccoon, Horse Springs and Buffalo Crossing.

All six of these campgrounds are in a canyon that starts off narrow with beautiful steep canyon walls. As you pass the fourth campground (Raccoon), the canyon starts to spread out and the canyon walls become less steep. The canyon continues to spread out and the canyon walls continue to taper off and become very shallow at Buffalo Crossing campground with views of an open expansive meadow and the river.

The views from the first four of these campgrounds are very similar. Each of these four campgrounds is small with less than 12 camp sites. As the sun hits the canyon walls, the views are gorgeous and the tall ponderosa pine trees that spread out along the canyon walls are majestic. As you look out between the canyon walls, you'll see beautiful views of the narrow canyon floor, often dotted with small meadow-like areas and beautiful tall ponderosa pine. Some of the camp sites overlook the river, but river views are obstructed from most of the sites by surrounding trees and vegetation along the river banks.

Most of the camp sites are well separated. Even though many of the camp sites don't have views of the river, you can still hear the sound of the moving water which enhances the sense of beauty of the area. The overall feeling of the campgrounds is rustic, pristine and beautiful. The only downside to these first four campgrounds is that because the canyon is narrow with steep walls, direct sun light is limited to late morning thru early afternoon. If you prefer more sunlight, try Horse Springs or Buffalo Crossing campgrounds.

Horse Springs is the largest campground of the six with two loops (Polecat and Porcupine). Each loop has several rows of camp sites with one of the rows situated along the river. Camp sites in this campground are a little less secluded and private than those in the other five. Views of the canyon walls are very pretty and several sites have excellent views of the river.

The canyon walls at Buffalo Crossing campground are shallow and the area between the walls is much wider than the other five campgrounds in this area. Some of the sites are in a beautiful open meadow between the canyon walls and some hug the edges of one of the canyon walls forested by tall majestic ponderosa pine. Several of the sites in the meadow have views of the Black River. Because of the open meadow, this campground has lots of sun.

If you like shade, pick a camp site that is along the shallow canyon wall -- you'll still have a view of the meadow. The sites located in the meadow have no shade but are closest to the river. We thought that each of the six campgrounds in this area had beautiful views; but our favorite was Buffalo Crossing because of the wide-open expanse of the beautiful meadow between the canyon walls that allows a lot of sunshine.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Since all six campgrounds are so close together, I recommend that if you visit this area for camping, look at all six. I'm sure you'll find a camp site that you will think has a beautiful view. We really liked this area and I'm sure you will too.

Happy camping!
About the Author
Carl Zimmerman is owner and webmaster of Camping with a View, dedicated to finding campgrounds with beautiful views. Visit the section of the site for photos, reviews and more information on campgrounds discussed in this article.
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