Wild Arizona: A Canyon That’s No Less Grand

Roxy Young | Sycamore Canyon

Roxy Young | Sycamore Canyon

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

Sycamore Canyon Wilderness
Sycamore Canyon is Arizona’s second-largest canyon, and it’s much less crowded than that great big one up north. Many ringtails, black bears, mountain lions, elk and deer live here. For great views into the canyon, hike the 11-mile Sycamore Rim Trail loop.

Location: North of Cottonwood
Established: 1972
Size: 55,937 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: Williams Ranger District, 928-635-5600 or www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab

Sierra Estrella Wilderness
About 25 percent of the Sierra Estrella Mountains is included in this wilderness, which is bordered by the Gila River Indian Community. One popular challenge for backpackers is 4,119-foot Butterfly Mountain, which rises 2,600 feet in only 2 miles. Four-wheel-drive is required to reach the two public-access points.

Location: South of Phoenix
Established: 1990
Size: 14,400 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Hassayampa Field Office, 623-580-5500 or www.blm.gov/az

Saddle Mountain Wilderness
This wilderness is along the eastern edge of the Kaibab Plateau, and it includes a perennial stream in North Canyon that’s a spawning ground for the endangered Apache trout, Arizona’s state fish. It’s relatively well traveled but can be difficult to access during the winter because of snow.

Location: North of Grand Canyon National Park
Established: 1984
Size: 40,539 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: North Kaibab Ranger District, 928-643-7395 or www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab

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