Wildfire on the Mogollon Rim


Note: 7/5/2011
The Forest Service issued their final update for the Wallow fire on the 4th of July.

That report can be found here:
Final Wallow Fire Update – Day 35 July 4, 2011

The Wallow fire consumed 538,049 acres and is the largest wildfire in Arizona history.

Rick’s comment below puts this fire into proper perspective.


Mogollon Rim

The Mogollon Rim, a long escarpment, basically bisects Arizona in half. It starts NW of Sedona and runs all the way to the New Mexico border.

It separates the state into two distinct biomes… the blazing hot Sonoran Desert to the south and the high Colorado Plateau to the north. The Mogollon Rim is a massive cliff rising upwards of 4,500 feet above the Sonora Desert along its length.

Though not generally thought of as being forested, its a surprising fact that the largest Ponderosa Pine forest in the world is along the Mogollon Rim of Arizona. Central Oregon’s Ponderosa Pine forests around Bend are dwarfed by comparison.

The Mogollon Escarpment

Its beautiful. Here are some of my pictures from that area:
Arizona’s Mogollon Rim

At this moment in time there is a huge wildfire, called the Wallow fire, in progress in eastern Arizona. Its the 2nd largest in Arizona history. It is believed it was started by a campfire and has consumed 233 thousand acres so far and is still zero percent controlled.

The Redeo-Chediski Wildfire of 2003

Given current windy, dry weather conditions that fire could easily double in size before it is controlled.

It is burning prime Pondersa Pine forest along and above the Mogollon. The smoke has been seen as far away as Iowa.

Adding to the great sadness of losing pristine forests at this very minute is another great sadness that I remember very well… it is not the first time this Ponderosa Pine forest has been hit with wildfire in recent years.

The largest wildfire fire ever in Arizona was also along the Mogollon Rim west of this one back in 2003. That one is called the Rodeo-Chediski Complex fire. It burned 468,000 acres out of the heart of the forest.

Ponderosa Forrest

It had two man-made causes. Ironically, the “Rodeo” part of the fire was started by an arsonist – a firefighter – who wanted to start a small wildfire in order to get paid to put it out. He was caught and convicted of the crime. The “Chediski” part of the fire was started two days later when a stranded motorist tried to build a signal fire for a passing news helicopter.

Fire and regrowth are a natural part of a forest’s cycle of life. I get that.

However, as a landscape photographer and outdoorsman I feel a great deal of sadness over these two massive losses to this great forest in such a short time.

About azleader

Learning to see life more clearly... one image at a time!
This entry was posted in Arizona, Current Events, Flora, Geology, Landscape, Photography. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Wildfire on the Mogollon Rim

  1. rick says:

    Having lived on the rim for fifteen years during the 80’s 90’s and early 00’s, I’ve spent many a night camping in that vary forest that is now burning. I share your pain in the loss of forest and habitat for the time being. But with fire brings a rebirth of life, aspens grasses and wildflowers will take over in the short term with a fresh stand of healthy ponderosa to follow (without pine beetles). Whether man caused or by nature (very possible this time of year) fire is part of nature – nature will be fine. Arizona’s Mogollon Rim is still beautiful – May and June is a scary time of year in the Arizona forests, hopefully the monsoon season will start early! I now live near Yellowstone and out of the heartbreaking fires of 1988 are the young healthy forests of today.

    • azleader says:

      Good points… well made. The greatest danger to forests like the ponderosa pines of the Mogollon and around Yellowstone are from man. I hope we learn to balance our needs with Mother Earth’s.

  2. ladyfi says:

    It’s always sad to see a forest lost to fire, but as you say – fire is a part of regeneration in the natural course of things.

    Lovely photos of a beautiful area.

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