Wild Arizona: Plenty of Animals (and Not Many People)

Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge | Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge | Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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

Cabeza Prieta Wilderness
At 803,418 acres, this wilderness is the largest in Arizona. It includes almost all of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, and its terrain includes Sonoran Desert valleys, rugged mountains, sand dunes and lava flows. On most days, the only man-made sound you might here is a military airplane overhead.

Location: West of Tucson
Established: 1990
Size: 803,418 acres
Managed by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Contact: 520-387-6483 or www.fws.gov/refuge/Cabeza_Prieta

Apache Creek Wilderness
Junipers, piñon pines, granite boulders and ponderosas define the scenery here. The wilderness includes about 5 miles of trails and is a habitat for mountain lions and numerous bird species.

Location: Between Seligman and Prescott
Established: 1984
Size: 5,666 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: Chino Valley Ranger District, 928-777-2200 or www.fs.usda.gov/prescott

Gibraltar Mountain Wilderness
The mountain for which this wilderness is named rises only 1,568 above sea level. You might catch a glimpse of desert bighorn sheep here, and plants such as creosote, chollas, barrel cactuses and paloverdes are plentiful here. You likely won’t see any other people — this wilderness doesn’t get many human visitors.

Location: East of Parker
Established: 1990
Size: 18,790 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Lake Havasu Field Office, 928-505-1200 or www.blm.gov/az

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