The San Francisco Peaks: Landscapes of the Coconino National Forest

When I describe my last few seasonal jobs, I say I’m incredibly lucky to get paid to hike and look at plants. For the past few years, I’ve worked on the Flagstaff Ranger District Botany Crew on the Coconino National Forest. We collected population data on the geographical extent and abundance of rare plants and noxious invasive weeds and managed weed populations using mechanical, biological and chemical control methods.

Forest Service UTV with herbicide tank sprayer during a break from applying chemical to Euphorbia esula or leafy spurge (Euphorbiaceae family).

The Coconino is a captivating place. I’m very fortunate to have spent so much time getting to know this stunning area, taking pictures whenever I see something interesting or beautiful. And how better to begin a series honoring the landscapes of the Coc. than with the San Francisco Peaks? Taken from May through September 2016, these photos document this important set of mountain tops.

The Peaks are significant to many native tribes in the Southwest. For the Navajo Tribe, the Peaks are “Dook’o’oosłííd,” which means “the summit which never melts” or “the mountain which peak never thaws.”

Nuva’tukya’ovi to the Hopi Tribe
Dził Tso—Dilzhe’e to the Apache Tribe

‘Amat ‘Iikwe Nyava—Hamakhav— the the Mojave Tribe

Tsii Bina—Aa’ku—Acoma Tribe
Nuvaxatuh—Nuwuvi—Southern Paiute Tribe

Kachina Trail

Hvehasahpatch or Huassapatch—Havasu ‘Baaja—Havasupai Tribe
Wik’hanbaja—Hwal`bay—(Hualapai) Tribe

View from ~N of San Francisco Peaks looking ~S from old cinder cone.

Wi:mun Kwa—(Yavapai) Tribe
Sunha K’hbchu Yalanne—A:shiwi (Zuni) Tribe

View of meadow, San Francisco Peaks and surrounding cinder cones looking ~east. Green meadow in foreground with road through it to left side.

View of the San Francisco Peaks and surrounding cinder cones looking ~east.

Sierra sin Agua” or “Mountain without Water” was the Spanish name given to the Peaks by conquistadors in the 1500s.  

View of peaks from Kachina Trail

The Peaks have a number of “summits”: Agassiz, Fremint, Humphrey’s, Doyle, Schukltz, and Abineau. The forest service has a great photo labeling the various peaks:

~E of Kendrick looking ~S

~E of Kendrick looking ~S

Agassiz Peak was named by Gen. W.J.Palmer in 1867 for the Swiss zoologist Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, who surveyed fossils in the area of the Pacific Railroad.

View of peaks from Kachina Trail

Fremont Peak was named for John Charles Fremont (1813-1890) who searched for an overland route to the Pacific ocean in 1842, served as a general in the Mexican-American War and U.S. Civil War, and was territorial governor of Arizona from 1878-1882.

Forest road heading to the heart of this land, the San Francisco Peaks. Looking ~south.

Humphreys Peak was named after Gen. Andrew Atkinson Humphreys in 1873. Humphreys was a Union General in the American Civil War and later became the Chief of the Army Corps of Topographical Engineers.

View of peak from Kachina Trail

Doyle Peak and Saddle were named in 1933 after the cattleman and guide , Allen Doyle (1850-1920). Doyle mined in Prescott before driving cattle to Flagstaff in 1881. There he stayed, becoming a famous guide to people such as Zane Grey, author of western novels.

Meadow looking ~E at SFP and what I guess to be A1 Mountain, another old cinder cone.

Meadow looking ~E at SFP and what I guess to be A1 Mountain, a cinder cone.

Schultz Peak and Schultz Pass were named for Charles H. Schulz (original spelling), owner of the largest number of sheep in Arizona at the height of his ranching career. One of the earliest settlers in Flagstaff, Schulz arrived from Texas in 1880.

View looking down from Kachina Trail on the SFPs

Abineau Peak was named after Julius Aubineau (1852-1903), a Frenchman who owned Aubineau Spring. He was Flagstaff mayor and developed the Inner Basin water system, engineering the route for the project’s waterline road in 1898. He also built the town business’s first sewage system in 1899.

Oxytropis lambertii of locoweed (Fabaceae family) blooming on the Weatherford trail on the SFPs.

Happy New Year!


Field Guide to Forest & Mountain Plants of Northern Arizona

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