Wild Arizona: Down by the Creek, Up in the Peaks

Nathaniel Smalley | Wet Beaver Creek Trail

Nathaniel Smalley | Wet Beaver Creek Trail

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

Wet Beaver Wilderness
This small wilderness includes Wet Beaver Creek, which winds through a canyon of sandstone and shale on the Colorado Plateau. A perennial desert stream, the creek attracts elk, deer, bears, lions, reptiles and birds. Two major trails offer easy access to the wilderness for hiking, fishing and picnicking.

Location: South of Flagstaff
Established: 1984
Size: 6,155 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: Red Rock Ranger District, 928-282-4119 or www.fs.usda.gov/coconino

Miller Peak Wilderness
The namesake peak of this wilderness has an elevation of 9,466 feet, making it the highest peak in the U.S. this far south. Sheer cliffs, oaks and aspens dominate the scenery, although some of the vegetation was burned in a 2011 wildfire. The area’s history as a mining and ranching hub is evident.

Location: South of Sierra Vista
Established: 1984
Size: 20,228 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: Sierra Vista Ranger District, 520-378-0311 or www.usda.gov/coronado

Cottonwood Point Wilderness
Cottonwood Canyon divides the two main areas of this wilderness, which extends south from the Arizona-Utah border. With no established trails, it’s ideal for solitude and a favorite of backpackers, hikers and horseback riders. Its landscape is often described as reminiscent of Utah’s Zion National Park.

Location: Near Colorado City
Established: 1984
Size: 6,860 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Arizona Strip Field Office, 435-688-3200 or www.blm.gov/az

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