Now that the 2015 year and holiday season is behind us and everyone is making new year’s resolutions, I thought it best to enjoy a beginning of the year trip doing things that make me smile and keep up our exploration of beautiful Arizona!

My husband and I rented a cute little cabin in Lakeside, AZ that is nestled in the White Mountains of Arizona. And considering all the snow we saw, it’s certainly living up to its name this year.  (At last check earlier today, they are supposed to see several inches every day this week).

While we tried to go explore the Woods Canyon Lake area on our way in, a lot of it was closed and the rest of it was packed with families having snowball fights, building snowmen, and sledding.  We decided to keep going on our merry way and stumbled across Young Road, where it was still full of folks doing the same things, but we were able to find a spot further down the road with only one family–who appeared to be having a blast having a picnic and listening to the radio in the snow.  We took our dogs around the area for a bit to stretch their legs, enjoyed a sandwich that we brought along, and then continued on our way to the cabin.

We spent the next two days snowboarding our hearts out at Sunrise.  I blogged about Sunrise previously, here.  The first day was sunny and perfect!  My cousin joined us for the day as she doesn’t live super far away and, while I’m rapidly improving my boarding skills, my cousin (half my age!) is really good and much better than me.  It was awesome that she was able to join us and nice to spend some time chatting on the lift rides with her.

The next day was snowy but surprisingly not super cold.  When I say not super cold, I mean it was not -10 like it was last weekend when we went.  That day last weekend made for some miserable lift rides where you couldn’t wait to start going down the hill to warm up!  But, we were in luck- snow was falling and it was still about 25 or 30 degrees with the sun peeking out here and there.  Those days make for quiet, serene lift rides and are good for the soul because you can focus on the beauty around you rather than how cold it is!

The last day that we spent in the White Mountains was spent exploring Fool Hollow Lake in Show Low, AZ.  Nestled within 100-foot pine trees, Fool Hollow is an 800-acre recreation area within the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest that has so much to offer!  I was really impressed.  If I lived nearby, I could totally see myself visiting often.  We spent the morning walking the dogs around the area and checking it out.  There is a $7 day use fee.  If you’re staying overnight, the fees will differ.

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There really is quite a bit to do there.  I spent a few minutes speaking with the ranger on staff and he was really friendly and knowledgeable.  Although we didn’t see any, apparently the area typically sees 3-9 bald eagles during the winter and several Osprey move in for the summer when the bald eagles have left at the end of winter.  They don’t like to be viewed as lunch for the bald eagles and only inhabit the area when the eagles aren’t there.

Because the lake was partially frozen over when we visited, we did see many ducks flying from the non-frozen portions to the frozen portions.  It’s almost like they make a game of it.  Fly and land on the ice and then see who can slide the furthest.  This was pretty entertaining. Our dogs thought so as well.  Especially Chalupa who loves to chase birds…  Of course by the time I figured out switching my camera to video mode, they were all settled and no longer sliding on the ice.

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This area also has two boat launches, RV sites with hookups as well as tent sites for camping, a 1.5 mile walking trail that goes around the lake, several lookout spots to take in the beautiful surroundings, a handful of day use ramadas, and fishing- complete with fishing platforms.  The White Mountain Trail System nearby consists of 11 additional loop trails totaling over 103 miles to hike and enjoy! Additionally, there is the Adair Amphitheater that is named after Thomas Jefferson Adair.  Apparently, he moved to the area in 1885 and originally intended to farm the land.  The locals called him a fool for trying to farm the land and alas, the area is known as Fool Hollow Lake.

The day use ramadas are fairly large.  You could definitely reserve one of them for a gathering and fit a ton of people.  The smallest ramada has a 100-person maximum!  The others all have a 150-person max.  Maybe a good spot for a family reunion!? …

Each ramada has a grill and some even have horseshoe pits nearby. There are a handful of playgrounds throughout the area for the kiddos and each spot has an incredible view of the lake!  Reservations in the summer for a ramada or camp spot are recommended.  In speaking with the ranger, the summer is really, really busy.  Reservations:  520-586-2283.

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The wildlife is prevalent and many visitors come to Fool Hollow to try and catch a glimpse of waterfowl (Mallards, Canada Geese, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, American Egret, etc..); numerous raptor-species such as Bald Eagles, Osprey, Red-Tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, and more.

There are a handful of animals to watch out for (Western Diamondback snakes among other poisonous snakes and insects, skunk, raccoon, beavers, bobcat, coyote) and some other wildlife to view such as squirrels, gophers, muskrat, elk, and deer, which all call the area home on occasion.

I’ll definitely be back to this spot in the summer and hopefully the wildlife will be out and about (minus the snakes!).

How did you start out your new year?  Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear about it!

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