Anderson Mesa lies between the vast Ponderosa pine forests at the edge of the Mogollon Rim and the barren badlands and painted deserts of northeastern Arizona. The topography of vast grasslands with a few scattered trees evokes Africa's Serengeti more than most people's ideas of Arizona. There are no major roads that cross Anderson Mesa. You have to work to get here. It is one of Arizona's most remote and unvisited landscapes. Forest Road 82 is called Anderson Mesa Road by the locals. Anglers and weekend ATV riders use the ends of this southern stretch to reach Long Lake and Kinnikinnick Lake. The lakes, even modest Cow Lake, are wonders in their own right. Elk, pronghorn, and sometimes eagles are drawn to their reliable water sources. The rough, rocky, suspension-crunching middle section seldom sees anyone save a few lonesome ranch hands or extremely dedicated hunters. The tan savannah grasslands periodically give way to thick juniper forests forcing the trail to twist, split, merge and meander its way through before opening again to another broad vista. A sudden outcropping of rough boulders forces you to choose a line. It is more likely that you see a dozen elk racing across the two-track in front of you than running across another human. But adventure begins where easy ends. Go see for yourself.
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