Red Mountain
San Francisco Volcanic Field • Arizona
May 17, 2010


Red Mountain is a tuff-and-cinder hill located on the north end of the San Francisco Volcanic Field in northern Arizona, about 35 miles northwest of Flagstaff. It's along the road (US-180) that leads to the Grand Canyon.

Beth and I were on a short camping and driving trip up here to enjoy some of the cool weather and scenery. Our trip started yesterday and had some excitement: I cut my finger badly enough to warrant a side trip to the Flagstaff ER for stitches. With my finger now inside a big bandage, we set off again for some more exploration. You can read about the details up to this point here.

Red Mountain is not really a climbing destination, but more known for its very interesting eroded tuff spires and cliffs within the heart of this little peak. The trailhead is well-signed, and from the road we could see the obvious erosion (see photo 1).

Beth was feeling pretty rotten and opted to stay back at the car. I hiked in the easy trail, which runs about a mile and a half, with about 200 feet of gain. Most of the initial walk is amid pinon and shrubby grasses. The trail then drops into a sandy drainage and enters into the little canyon. On one side is a black lava ridge, and on the other, reddish pumice slopes. A small ladder leads up over a block wall to gain the "main part" of the little canyon. The trail ends not much further against some giant tuff cliffs, with its many voids, slots and interesting hoodoo formations. I stayed about 20 minutes. The weather was kind of gray and cool; the colors in my photos are muted as a result.

The hike out took maybe 20 minutes and the whole journey just over an hour. Beth was holding up well, battling a severe headache. We spent the rest of the driving to Valle, then Williams, before camping again that night south of Williams.

Overall, Red Mountain was worth the effort, an interesting (and easy) opportunity to see some neat cliffs of tuff. It seems to be a popular hike: there were five other vehicles parked at the trailhead, and we saw maybe a total of 15 people. I came back a year later to hike its summit, with better lighting for better photos. Read all about that hike here

Photos (Click to enlarge)

Red Mountain and erosion

Note the change in rock!

The ladder

Tuff formations

Darker tuff cliffs

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(c) 2010 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.