AZT Mail Drops

Arizona Trail Leaving Patagonia, Arizona

One of the more minor reasons I wasn’t able to complete the Arizona Trail in 2015 was a general lack of preparedness and a haphazard attitude for my overall organization on the trail. Likewise, I was also very dependent on friends in the area for help which didn’t benefit either of us.

In 2016, thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign that would also benefit the Arizona Trail Association, I was able to comfortably do the thru-hike without imposing on anyone in the area (even though a number of people then insisted that I impose – quite the opposite from the previous year). With better organization and a more encouraging nature surrounding the trek in 2016, it was definitely feeling like it was already off to a great start before I even hit the trail.

I especially wanted to be extra organized when it came to mail drops. I didnt’ plan on leaving the trail except for a few breaks (as noted below) to resupply and repackage new mail drops. So, outlined below are each location I sent food to myself, along with how many days of food I expected each package to contain depending on the mileage that was needed to hike through. This was based on a pace of about 15 miles/day, which turned out to be very conservative, even with breaks and stopping for photographic opportunities. I neglected to account for how much hungrier I’d be on the trail after about 300 miles, so I should have added an extra day’s worth of food to each shipment after that because I consistently found myself rushing to the next town to get more food.

Sending a Care Package

Please take the time to read over this list of Dos and Don’ts when sending a care package. It will help to make sure everything goes to the right place and that as much waste as possible is eliminated.

When shipping a care package, it’s best to use the format provided for each stop, as well as a line underneath the shipping address that reads:

Please hold for AZT thru-hiker. Estimated arrival: mm/dd/yyyy

My AZT Mail Drops

Patagonia, Arizona

Mileage to Next Drop: 67
Estimated Days of Food: 5

With the exception of an initial climb of 3,000 feet, the first stretch of the trail from the border to Patagonia was fairly easy going. I didn’t need too much food, and I remembered the water being readily available throughout the first few passages into Patagonia. This helped to minimize a lot of weight since I only needed a few liters at a time and only about four days of food. I sent the mail drop to the Stage Stop Inn since I stayed there to regroup and tweak a few systems, and also because they’re an extremely helpful business that is happy to help out AZT hikers. When shipping to the Inn, make sure you use the PO Box and not the physical address.

La Posta Quemada Ranch

Mileage to Next Drop: 67
Estimated Days of Food: 5

This was a similar shipment as the previous because the mileage was nearly the same to the next drop, Summerhaven. The ranch, however, was under renovation, so I instead sent my package to Colossal Cave Mountain Park Visitor Center, which also seemed happy and eager to help out thru-hikers. The only problem was they’re about a mile off the trail and up a hill. Most people would prefer not to have to climb the hill, so La Posta Quemada Ranch is the logical choice under most circumstances. As I was hiking up to the park’s Visitor Center though, a friendly employee was happy to give me a ride up and it sounded like he had been offering other hikers rides up as well. I can’t comment on the ranch’s food options since I didn’t get to visit, but the park does have some basic hot meals up there if you’re craving one, such as pizza, hot dogs, and burgers.

Summerhaven, Arizona

Mileage to Next Drop: 22
Estimated Days of Food: 2

Summerhaven has a post office with a worker who’s happy to chat to thru-hikers about their experiences thus far, which is good because I didn’t find anyone else in town that seemed to care. Make sure you show up there on a weekday if you can though – there’s nowhere to stay in town and every business in town shuts down at 5pm at the latest, some of them closing at 4pm. It’s all right along the route though so no side trips are necessary.

Shipping Address:
[your name]
General Delivery
12984 North Sabino Canyon Road
Mount Lemmon, AZ 85619

Apache Lake

Oracle, Arizona

Mileage to Next Drop: 93
Estimated Days of Food: 5

I wound up getting a ride back to Phoenix for a much-needed zero day. I had a lot of gear that needed switching out and multiple systems that needed a bit of tweaking. I also sent out my next mail drops to get me to Flagstaff, so I can’t comment on much in Oracle, but I did encounter a number of people who had great things to say about the Chalet.

Superior, Arizona

Mileage to Next Drop: 44
Estimated Days of Food: 3

I sent my next drop to the town of Superior where I also stayed for a night at the Copper Mountain Motel. The guy running can appear a little off-putting at first, but a short bit of chatting will reveal that he’s extremely friendly and very helpful to thru-hikers. The post office is a short walk from the motel through downtown, though the town itself is about three miles off the trail, so I was fortunate enough to hitch a ride in, but had to walk back to the trail, mostly due to highway construction taking place nearby at the time. If you stay in Superior, head to Los Hermanos for a great breakfast.

Shipping Address:
[your name]
General Delivery
25 North High School Avenue
Superior, AZ 85173

Roosevelt, Arizona

Mileage to Next Drop: 42
Estimated Days of Food: 3

The Roosevelt Marina, found floating down on the lake, happily accepts mail drops for hikers at the store that’s also there, but though I was fortunate in my timing, I heard they close at 3pm and are pretty strict about it. It’s a bit out of the way, but there’s not much else around so if you’re not going to get a ride from here to a nearby town, the marina is your only real option. I would also strongly advise against the temptation of the cooked food available there. A) It’s extremely cheap meat, something that will come back to haunt you up the trail (as it did to me, and others I spoke to). B) You have to cook it yourself on a grill 15 yards away. C) Each product (hamburger, brat, hot dog) is served in its own heavy duty Ziploc bag, which you carry the 15 yards, and then throw away, making it an extremely wasteful business. I ordered one of each, so I wound up wasting three Ziploc bags. You’re better off heading into the store and grabbing a few things from there.

Shipping Address:
[your name]
c/o Roosevelt Lake Visitors Center
28085 North AZ 188
Roosevelt, AZ 85545

Sunflower, Arizona

Mileage to Next Drop: 52
Estimated Days of Food: 4

Sunflower doesn’t have any services. It’s nothing more than a few houses, ranches, and a car repair facility. Your options here are to either carry enough food to get you through the Mazatzals from the Roosevelt Marina (which would total a lot), hitchhike to Payson nearby, or have someone bring you some food. Fortunately, that last option worked out great for me since I had a friend join me for that next stretch. I’d also highly recommend packing some extra food here. With very few options along the trail for a good meal since Superior and nothing until you get to the LF Ranch or Pine, your appetite is going to skyrocket through here. Be prepared for it.

LF Ranch

Mileage to Next Drop: 24
Estimated Days of Food: 2

The LF Ranch is practically right along the trail. Many people see the mileage left to Pine and decide to just push through, but they’re missing out on some fantastic food. Maryann cooks up an amazing meal and makes sure you’re well fed before moving on. She also accepts mail drops, where I sent a small box to get me to Pine. A bunk in the bunkhouse is $20/night and breakfast and dinner is $15/each, with cash preferred. Keep in mind that it is a working ranch, so reservations are required since popping in unannounced is extremely inconvenient for them.

Pine, Arizona

Mileage to Next Drop: 74
Estimated Days of Food: 5

The town of Pine turned out to be a really fun stop. There are two amazing places to eat, THAT Brewery and Sidewinders, and the brewery will even take mail drops, which is where I sent mine. They also have a few cabins, so I was forced to look elsewhere for my place to stay. I probably wouldn’t have gone with a bed, but I had just hiked 26 miles through cold rain and was drenched, so I needed something dry. This ultimately brought me to the Beeline Guest House. It’s out of the price range of most thru-hikers, but he understands the predicament some, like myself, find themselves in and is extremely helpful and cooks up what may very well be the best breakfast you’ll have on the entire trail. If you can fit it into your budget, it’s definitely worth a stop in. THAT Brewery also has some good beer and great food where you can sign the log book. If you happen to get there when the brewery is closed, Sidewinders is also excellent.

Shipping Address:
[your name]
c/o THAT Brewery
PO Box 90
Pine, AZ 85544

Mormon Lake Village

Mileage to Next Drop: 30
Estimated Days of Food: 2

A mile detour will bring you down to Mormon Lake Village where a post office in the back of the General Store will gladly accept mail drops. The town also has a tent-friendly RV Park and campground as well as small cabins for rent. A great restaurant is also right next to the General Store. It’s only about 30 miles from here into Flagstaff, so you won’t need much.

Shipping Address:
[your name]
General Delivery
1 Mormon Lake Road
Mormon Lake, AZ 86038

Milky Way Above San Francisco Peaks

Flagstaff, Arizona

Mileage to Next Drop: 91
Estimated Days of Food: 6

I took a zero day in Flagstaff where I restocked on food and supplies and shipped out my remaining mail drops. A hostel is downtown and provides easy access to multiple brewpubs, the post office, REI, groceries, and great food. Since it’s the biggest town along the trail, most people won’t need to mail themselves any food here. It’s all easily accessible and the town’s a great place to take a zero day to try out some of the local flavor. Historic Brewing is really good and only a block away from the hostel, while MartAnne’s is in the other direction on Route 66 is an absolute must for breakfast.

Tusayan, Arizona

Mileage to Next Drop: 80
Estimated Days of Food: 6

Don’t send a mail drop to Tusayan. Just go directly to the Grand Canyon. The entire town came across as completely incompetent about mail drops and once I was finally redirected to the post office, I was told they just send everything to the Grand Canyon anyway. If you need to stay in Tusayan for some reason, the 7 Mile Lodge is a redeeming quality about the town.

Shipping Address:
[your name]
General Delivery
100 Mather Business Center
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

Jacob’s Lake, Arizona

Mileage to Utah Border: 30
Estimated Days of Food: 2

Thanks to multiple blizzards, I spent a good deal of time at Jacob Lake. There are much worse places to get stuck. The places to stay can be pricey, but if you split a room between two or more people, they’re not bad at all. Their winter rates end at the end of April though when they become a bit pricier. The entire staff though is extremely friendly and helpful and enjoys seeing thru-hikers come in. Mail drops can be found at the reservations desk, and you should not leave Jacob Lake without having (at least) one of their cookies.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Hey, was just checking out your maildrops as I plan my AZT thru. I just looked on Guthook and it didn’t include info about Sunflower, or LF Ranch as a resupply. Actually, it specifically said “LF Ranch is closed to the public and hikers are not welcome.” Jacob’s Lake no longer accepts resupply either according to couple blogs I read, it’s worth checking that if you planned to resupply. Mixed comments on Roosevelt Marina in 2017- 2 said couldn’t resupply, other said it was ok. No longer a hiker box there. Just wanted to update this.

    For me, I’ll do Patagonia-Summerhaven-Superior-Payson-Pine-Flag, picking up a day’s food here and there on trail (also already did Flag to Tusayan, so the Flag resupply is from Tusayan to the border. Really wish N Rim opened earlier but what can you do).

    1. Great feedback and thanks for the updates!

      That’s unfortunate to hear about LF Ranch, but Colossal Cave Mountain Park, just a mile north, should still accept drops. You might want to look into that because it’s a lengthy distance from Patagonia to Summerhaven. As for the Roosevelt Marina, I was told that the general store there closes at 3pm, which is where the drops go, so it’s a tight window. I also remember that the ranger station above the marina might also accept drops, so you might also want to check into that address instead.

      It’s true there’s nothing at Sunflower. I was fortunate enough to know someone locally that drove in a resupply for me there.

      Very unfortunate to hear about Jacob Lake! But it is doable and I think the South Rim also accepts mail drops, so that might help to buy a few miles of weight. Then, weather permitting, it shouldn’t be any longer from the South Rim to the border than any other of the lengthier stretches.

      Make sure you pick up the official AZT guidebook too. It’s incredibly helpful and has info for all the potential mail drops you might want. If that’s not up to date, the AZT forum will have people that will know. That forum was essential in my preparation.

      If you have other questions I’ll answer as best as I can! Otherwise, best of luck!

  2. Hi,

    Cavaroc, what date did you start? Haiku, when are you planning to start? I’m hoping to start March 1, although I’ve read this might be a tad early. I have kind of a tight window and starting too much beyond that will not be feasible for my schedule but want to avoid the cold and snow as much as I can? Any thoughts?


    1. The downside is if there’s any kind of weather system moving through around your start time, you can expect snow in the Huachucas – aka, Passage 1. I wished I had had a pair of gloves for that first section, and that was with a March 9 start. But just because you make it into April doesn’t mean you’re out of the snow either. There were a few snow showers up on the Mogollon Rim and two full on blizzards once I was north of the Grand Canyon. Though they had melted off enough to continue within a day, both forced me off the trail at the time. Snow won’t be common, but have a good enough, lightweight jacket to keep you warm and dry for the rare times it will hit, and to keep you warm at night and mornings up on the Mogollon Rim andn north from there. In regards to snow though, you should be pretty safe for the most part between the Huachucas and the Mogollon Rim. I only had a heavier fleece for a jacket for that entire stretch which worked fine, but was very glad I had someone bring me a better rain jacket and a down jacket before getting onto the rim. If you don’t know anyone in the area, you might just want to bring them along for the whole trail. As a friend I met on the trail said, a few extra ounces is worth it to be comfortable and happy.

      Not sure what your schedule is, but I finished the trail in 7 weeks, which is doable if you don’t mind pushing 20-25 mile days regularly once you feel comfortable enough to do so (which will happen). March 1 is typically when a lot of people begin to get on the trail. Usually that first two weeks of March is when the majority of people will begin, so March 1 isn’t too early, but you’ll want to be ready for snow whenever you’re in higher elevations really no matter when you start.

      Hope that helps! Feel free to ask if you need any more help!

  3. Hi,

    That is encouraging. I may push it to March 3 so a friend can join me for a stretch. I’m planning on more of the 8 week schedule. I have aims for lots of botany and birding if I can muster the energy. I’m planning to do mail drops mostly, and I figure if I want to hike faster, I’ll just eat more in less time / binge less in town and more on the food I sent myself. Is that sensible?
    Two things…. what was your water capacity? I’m currently figuring on 6 liters, probably carrying 4 full most of the time.
    Would fleece liner gloves do, or would it be smart to have something to stop the wind? Did you ditch your gloves after the Huachucas?

    Thanks a lot,

  4. I actually didn’t have gloves for the Huachucas – so it’s doable, just uncomfortable. However some kind of light glove is a good idea because the other side effect is that my hands got fried by the sun, so I had to cut up some socks to put over them until they adjusted to the amount of sunlight they were receiving. But even on the Mogollon Rim and beyond I didn’t have any gloves. It just kinda depends on how much comfort you want I suppose.

    For water I carried two 2-liter soda bottles for drinking, and then one 1-liter bottle for purifying. There was definitely enough to get me from one source to another on that amount, as long as you train well enough to get into the upper-teens in mileage your first few days. Before I left for the trail, I was walking about 10 miles a day (give or take) with about 25 pounds on my back and was able to start around this time to start building up to it.

    Eight weeks should be plenty even with some extra fun on the side, and a March 3 start sounds really nice. As for food, be sure to send yourself extra meals once you get to 200-300 miles in. I underestimated how much my appetite would grow and found myself rushing to get to each next mail drop because I was running out of food. Though you technically don’t need to stay overnight in a town, such as Pine/Tusayan/Flagstaff/etc., it definitely helps a lot for rest and regrouping and you’re going to want all those extra calories and warm food you can’t get on the trail. Just feel out meals for the first hundred or two hundred miles and then if it’s working, add an extra meal a day after that at least.

    I wound up only taking three zero days total, one of which was an accident but wound up working out nicely. So I didn’t really stop much either. It’s an easy trail to fall in love with so I found I wanted to be on it as much as possible.

  5. I’m thinking about taking a shot at this walk in the spring, how much did sending and storing packages cost?

    1. Great question! Plan on spending several hundred dollars on food at least, give or take, depending on how well you want to eat. You can get away with less if you don’t mind eating a lot of similar things/bulk foods. But I’d strongly recommend changing it up and shipping yourself some varying foods so that you don’t get halfway through and disgust yourself with the exact same meals every day. I tried to change things up with each mail drop – different flavors, different types of similar foods/proteins/etc. and it worked well for me.

      Each box probably came out to roughly $15 or so. If you ship it all priority, you can usually get away with one of those medium boxes, which is flat rate for right around that price. As for storage, the post offices and other businesses listed here will hold it free of charge until you get there, so you only pay for shipping.

      Overall this factors into the typical equation that most people estimate for their budget of a thru-hike: typically about $2-3/mile. If it’s your first, probably closer to $3/mile. I think I wound up spending about $2500 on mine when it was all said and done, not including travel to/from the area, since it was my first.

      Hope that helps and definitely let me know if you have any other questions!

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