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.
The unusual name of this wilderness comes from the King of Arizona (KOFA) Mine, which scoured the area for minerals in the early 1900s. Today, the region is home to one of Arizona’s largest populations of desert bighorn sheep. This wilderness is Arizona’s second-largest.
Location: Northeast of Yuma
Size: 516,200 acres
Managed by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Contact: Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, 928-783-7861 or www.fws.gov/refuge/kofa
Mount Wrightson Wilderness
The 9,452-foot peak for which this wilderness is named can be seen from great distances. Rough hillsides and deep canyons mark the terrain, and the area supports several Mexican plants that grow nowhere else north of the border. Much of the wilderness burned in a 2005 wildfire.
Location: North of Nogales
Size: 25,260 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: Nogales Ranger District, 520-281-2296 or www.fs.usda.gov/coronado
North Santa Teresa Wilderness
This wilderness is intended to protect Black Rock, a geologic landmark that’s of spiritual significance to many Native American tribes. The rock towers nearly 1,000 feet over the desert floor. To obtain permission to enter the wilderness, contact the San Carlos Apache Tribe or private landowners.
Location: West of Safford
Size: 5,800 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Safford Field Office, 928-348-4400 or www.blm.gov/az