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Get Ready Now for Spring Wildlife Trips

Northern Arizona Ripe With New Life

Spring is one of the best times to hit the road and see an abundance of new wildlife in northern and northeastern Arizona. The White Mountains are only a couple of hours from Payson, and provide numerous opportunities to see birds and all sizes of mammals shortly after birth. From Mexican wolves and elk to white-tailed deer, the mountains of Arizona are brimming with wildlife in the spring. A lot of the areas you’re visiting are very remote, so make sure you bring your vehicle into the Chapman Payson Auto Center for a quick check-up before heading out. The service pros will change your oil, top off all fluids and do a quick multi-point inspection so you can have peace of mind as you enjoy Arizona’s back country.

Greens Peak Loop Filled with Opportunities

Head east of Pinetop-Lakeside and McNary then turn left on Forest Road 117 and you’ll soon be in a mixed conifer forest where wildlife is plentiful. Known as the Greens Peak Loop, this 20-mile backroad drive offers an opportunity to see wolves, mule deer, elk, white-tailed deer and small mammals. You may also see a three-toed woodpecker or even a black bear. Sunrise and sunset are the best times for viewing large animals, but birds and smaller mammals are plentiful.

Mount Baldy Loop has Mixed Landscape

Staying on 260 and turning right on Highway 273 will lead you to the 36-mile Mount Baldy Loop that goes through a variety of landscapes including grassland, forest and crossing the Little Colorado River. Large mammals and wild turkeys can often be seen from the road. When you get near the water, keep an eye out for a great blue heron and other migratory birds. Take a picnic lunch and enjoy some time at Sheep’s Crossing, although you might be asked to share by a long-tailed weasel or friendly red squirrel.

Be Wary of Bears

The Black Bear is the only species of this large animal still living in Arizona. Although it is the smallest bear, it can still weigh up to 400 pounds and is extremely powerful. They are normally more afraid of you then you are of them, but bear attacks do happen. If you should see a bear, do not confront it. Alter your path to avoid the bear if possible. If you can, back away slowly. Do not run and do not play dead. If a bear attacks, the Arizona Game and Fish Department tells you to fight with everything you’ve got, including rocks, sticks and your fists. Of course the best way is to get back in your car and drive away. Make sure your vehicle is ready to make a quick retreat by visiting your Chapman Payson Auto Center for a complete inspection.

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