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Central Highlands

As you drive north of Phoenix on I-17 toward Flagstaff or north on Hwy 87 (known locally as the Beeline) to Payson or north of Globe, you approach the transition zone known as the central highlands.  It's the fast way to cooler temperatures and a totally different landscape than the Basin and Range/Sonoran desert around the Valley of the Sun.

Sandwiched between the Basin and Range and Colorado Plateau, this is the area that "moves".  8000 foot peaks, ponderosa pine forests, and deep canyons are fun to drive if you've got a 4 wheel vehicle and time.  You won't make record setting times as you prowl the hillsides. Ghost towns and abandoned mines are generously sprinkled across this part of Arizona.

"Biotic communities and their associated wildlife can be found in the Central Highlands Region. Subalpine Spruce-Fir Forest, Montane Mixed-Conifer Forest, Montane Ponderosa Pine Forest, Pinyon Pine-Juniper Woodland, Madrean Evergreen Woodland, Chaparral, Grasslands, Sonoran Desertscrub, Northern Arizona Riparian Woodland and Southern Arizona Riparian Woodland biotic communities.

Arizona Roadside Environments (A.R.E)

Separating the generally cooler and higher terrain of northern Arizona from the hot lowlands of southern Arizona is an area of rugged mountainous country: the Central Highlands region. This region is a major geological and ecological transition zone stretching from the highlands of the upper Verde River valley southeastward along the prominent Mogollon Rim all the way across the state to the White Mountains of eastern Arizona. The Mogollon Rim defines the very southern edge of the Colorado Plateau. Several rugged mountain ranges rise to nearly 8000 feet just south of the rim including the Mazatzal and Sierra Ancha ranges. The largest ponderosa pine forest in the United States covers most of this region above 6500 feet in elevation, while lower areas are covered by pinyon pine, juniper, and oak woodlands, chaparral, or to the south and east Sonoran desertscrub. The higher terrain of the White Mountains is forested with a beautiful mix of aspen, pine, spruce, and fir."

The "Highlands" are home to Crown King, Bumble Bee, Prescott, Jerome, Sedona, Payson, Tonto Basin, Salt River Canyon, Montezuma's Well and Castle, Mazatzal Wilderness, Young, Punkin Center, Tuzigoot, and Arcosanti, to name a few.

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Map of Arizona

 

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Map of the reservations and Four Corners 

 

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