Wild Arizona: Hellsgate (Much Nicer Than It Sounds)

Wib Middleton | Hellsgate Wilderness

Wib Middleton | Hellsgate 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

Hellsgate Wilderness
The perennial Tonto Creek runs through the center of this wilderness, which is at the base of the Mogollon Rim. Six trailheads provide access, but human use is relatively light, and foot travel can be difficult. Black bears, mountain lions and mule deer are among the animals that thrive here.

Location: East of Payson
Established: 1984
Size: 37,440 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: Payson Ranger District, 928-474-7900 or www.fs.usda.gov/tonto

Eagletail Mountains Wilderness
Eagletail Peak is the most prominent formation in this wilderness near Phoenix, but Courthouse Rock, a large granite monolith, is a popular destination for technical rock climbers. Great horned owls and coyotes call the wilderness home, and you’ll find plenty of saguaros and ocotillos here, too.

Location: Between Phoenix and Yuma
Established: 1990
Size: 97,880 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Yuma Field Office, 928-317-3200 or www.blm.gov/az

Bear Wallow Wilderness
The Wallow Fire torched much of this wilderness, but signs of recovery are evident everywhere. In addition, much of the wilderness experienced a lower-intensity burn due to earlier fires. True to its name, black bears abound here, as do elk, deer, birds and reptiles.

Location: Southwest of Alpine
Established: 1984
Size: 11,080 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: Alpine Ranger District, 928-339-4384 or www.fs.usda.gov/asnf

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