EDITOR’S NOTE: Each afternoon in September, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we’re spotlighting three of Arizona’s 90 wilderness areas. For more information about any of the state’s wilderness areas, visit Wilderness.net, a collaboration between several wilderness-related organizations. The information here comes from that site and the wilderness areas’ managing agencies. Always contact the managing agency before visiting a wilderness to learn about any restrictions that may be in effect. To see our entire Wild Arizona series, click here.
Four Peaks Wilderness
Visible from the Phoenix area, the namesake peaks of this wilderness rise from desert foothills. One of the densest black-bear populations in Arizona lives here, along with ringtails, skunks, coyotes and rattlesnakes. Lightning storms occur frequently during monsoon season, and snow accumulates in winter. The wilderness features a 40-mile network of trails.
Location: Northeast of Phoenix
Size: 61,074 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: Mesa Ranger District, 480-610-3300 or www.fs.usda.gov/tonto
Hell’s Canyon Wilderness
Whoever named this canyon must have visited during the summer, but during other months, rock-climbing, hiking and camping are popular here. This wilderness includes a portion of the Hieroglyphic Mountains, named (incorrectly) for petroglyphs found in the area.
Location: Northwest of Phoenix
Size: 9,951 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Hassayampa Field Office, 623-580-5500 or www.blm.gov/az
Kanab Creek Wilderness
Kanab Creek is one of the major tributaries of the Colorado River, and it forms a large canyon system on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Trails here are minimally maintained, but most hikers access the wilderness from the east. Spring and fall are the best times of year to visit.
Location: North of Grand Canyon National Park
Size: 70,460 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management
Contact: North Kaibab Ranger District, 928-643-7395 or www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab; Arizona Strip Field Office, 435-688-3200 or www.blm.gov/az