The blue river heads up in Catron County just across the border in New Mexico, flows into Arizona near Alpine, then bisects the Blue Range Primitive Area as it flows south to the San Francisco River. The Blue River, known locally by the diminutive “the Blue,” is the likely landscape feature that lent its name to this remote backcountry region along Arizona’s eastern border, although some have argued that the name derives from a bluish tinge cast over the spruce-fir forest terrain when the light is just right at dawn or dusk. The Blue has it all.
There are emerald-green alpine meadows carpeted with spring wildflowers, endless ponderosa pine, spruce-fir and aspen forests, and miles of perennial streams, beaver ponds, and native trout. Its lowest elevations are dominated by piñon-juniper, scrub oak, manzanita, and mountain mahogany. Its riparian habitats feature New Mexico locust, box elder, bigtooth maple, velvet ash, Arizona walnut, and cottonwood. The bald eagle is at home in the Blue, as are the black bear, elk, beaver, wild turkey, spotted owl, mountain lion, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, peregrine falcon, coyote, squirrel, and blue grouse. This trail guide covers an area with over 200 miles of trails.
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