Wild Arizona: 3 Great Options for Solitude

DJ Cordero Photography | West Clear Creek Wilderness

DJ Cordero Photography | West Clear Creek Wilderness

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

West Clear Creek Wilderness
Opportunities for solitude abound in Clear Creek Canyon, one of Arizona’s most rugged and remote canyons. The steep walls of the canyon are as high as 1,000 feet. If you hike the entire length of the canyon, be prepared to swim or wade in places, and watch out for flash-flooding during storms.

Location: Northwest of Payson
Established: 1984
Size: 15,238 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: Red Rock Ranger District, 928-282-4119 or www.fs.usda.gov/coconino

South Maricopa Mountains Wilderness
Isolated summits, long ridges and washes dominate this wilderness, where you’ll see plenty of saguaros, paloverdes and ironwoods. High-clearance and four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended to access the area, which is part of Sonoran Desert National Monument.

Location: East of Gila Bend
Established: 1990
Size: 60,100 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Sonoran Desert National Monument, 623-580-5500 or www.blm.gov/az

Paiute Wilderness
The remote Virgin River Gorge and Interstate 15 form part of the northern boundary of this wilderness in the Arizona Strip. The terrain includes the Virgin Mountains, and the highest point here is 8,012-foot Mount Bangs, which offers panoramas of the area and the distant Mohave Desert.

Location: Southwest of St. George, Utah
Established: 1984
Size: 87,900 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Arizona Strip Field Office, 435-688-3200 or www.blm.gov/az

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