About San Francisco Peaks
The San Francisco Peaks are the tallest mountains in Arizona, reaching a maximum of 12,633 feet at Humphreys Peak. They are a cluster of volcanic calderas that rise from the surrounding Coconino Plateau. Because there are no other nearby peaks of their size, they are visible from a great distance in every direction. They are covered in forests, in contrast to the barren deserts to the north, and include the only alpine tundra climate in Arizona.
The San Francisco Peaks received their name in 1629, a century and a half before the famous California City of San Francisco was named. A group of Spanish Franciscan friars founded a mission at Oraibi, a Hopi village 65 miles away. They gave the mountain its name in honor of the founder of their religious order.
The San Francisco Peaks have religious significance to the various Indian tribes who lived in the area. The Navajo Indians called them Dook'o'oosliid. Humphreys Peak was known as Aaollsaktukwi to the Hopi Indians.
A Mormon pioneer, John Willard Young, was an early settler of the San Francisco Peaks, who built Fort Moroni near Leroux Springs in 1877. Flagstaff, one of Arizona’s major cities, was founded at the southern feet of the mountain in 1876.
In addition to Humphreys Peak, the major peaks are Agassiz Peak at 12,356 feet, Fremont Peak at 11,969 feet, Aubineau Peak at 11,838 feet, Rees Peak at 11,474 feet and Doyle Peak at 11,460 feet. At the center of the mountain lies Interior Valley, a long sloping alpine valley which ranges from about 8,000 to 10,000 feet in elevation. There are numerous smaller volcanic cones around the mountain, some of which have craters at the top.
U.S. Highway 180 skirts the southwest slope of the mountains and numerous minor roads pass through their forested slopes, including Shultz Pass Road, which crosses between some of the higher peaks.