Category Archives: Wild Arizona

Wild Arizona: Saguaros, and Lots More Cactuses

Cheryl Caffarella Wilson | Saguaro National Park East

Cheryl Caffarella Wilson | Saguaro National Park East

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

Saguaro Wilderness
Most of the eastern and western portions of Saguaro National Park are included in this wilderness, which is split into portions east and west of Tucson. As you’d expect, saguaros are plentiful here, but so are other cactus species, desert fauna and opportunities for day-hiking and backpacking.

Location: East and west of Tucson
Established: 1976
Size: 70,905 acres
Managed by: National Park Service
Contact: Saguaro National Park, 520-733-5153 (East), 520-733-5158 (West) or www.nps.gov/sagu

Redfield Canyon Wilderness
The boulder-strewn Redfield Canyon features several side canyons that are good for hiking. The water-rich side canyons of this wilderness are a powerful draw for photographers and backpackers. Be advised that much of the land to the west is privately owned, so you’ll need to get permission to cross it.

Location: Northeast of Tucson
Established: 1990
Size: 6,600 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Safford Field Office, 928-348-4400 or www.blm.gov/az

Rawhide Mountains Wilderness
This wilderness features several washes and canyons that are good for extended backpacking trips — there’s year-round water in the area. The Bill Williams River cuts through this wilderness, dividing the low Rawhide Mountains from the higher, more scenic Buckskin Mountains.

Location: East of Parker
Established: 1990
Size: 38,470 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Lake Havasu Field Office, 928-505-1200 or www.blm.gov/az

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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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Wild Arizona: I Should Live in Salt (River Canyon)

Carol Hagood | Salt River Canyon

Carol Hagood | Salt River 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

Salt River Canyon Wilderness
A haven for whitewater rafters, the steep-walled Salt River Canyon offers dramatic vistas and is home to more than 200 species of wildlife. If you aren’t in a boat, though, it’s hard to get here. There are no maintained trails, and the summers can be brutal.

Location: North of Globe
Established: 1984
Size: 32,101 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: Globe Ranger District, 928-402-6200 or www.fs.usda.gov/tonto

Table Top Wilderness
Table Top Mountain rises sharply above this wilderness, where you’re likely to find saguaros, paloverdes and other Sonoran Desert vegetation. There’s not much rain here, but you may see coyotes, bighorns and other animals. Solitude awaits hikers and backpackers who venture here.

Location: South of Phoenix
Established: 1990
Size: 34,400 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Sonoran Desert National Monument, 623-580-5500 or www.blm.gov/az

Signal Mountain Wilderness
This wilderness’ namesake mountain rises 1,200 feet above the surrounding desert to an elevation of 2,182 feet. Desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and raptors are common sights here, and Signal Mountain’s valleys and canyons are becoming popular with rock climbers.

Location: Northwest of Gila Bend
Established: 1990
Size: 13,350 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Lower Sonoran Field Office, 623-580-5500 or www.blm.gov/az

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Wild Arizona: On the West Side

Bob Miller‎ | Trigo Mountains

Bob Miller‎ | Trigo Mountains

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

Trigo Mountain Wilderness
Only a thin strip of the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge separates this wilderness from California. The Trigo Mountains are popular with rock climbers, and the washes that cut through the area are good for horseback riding and backpacking. Look for bighorn sheep, mule deer, foxes and coyotes.

Location: North of Yuma
Established: 1990
Size: 30,300 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Yuma Field Office, 928-317-3200 or www.blm.gov/az

Tres Alamos Wilderness
In this wilderness in the Black Mountains, you’ll find oddly shaped Joshua trees, columns of colorful stone, saguaros and paloverdes. Gila monsters live here, too, so watch where you step. There are no established trails in this wilderness, but it’s suitable for hiking and camping.

Location: Northwest of Wickenburg
Established: 1990
Size: 8,300 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Kingman Field Office, 928-718-3700 or www.blm.gov/az

Upper Burro Creek Wilderness
Thirteen miles of Burro Creek pass through this wilderness. The creek is one of the few perennial streams to flow undammed into Arizona’s lower desert. At least 150 bird species, including several raptors, can be spotted here. Burro Creek and its side canyons are good for hiking, but summer temperatures can be extreme.

Location: Southeast of Kingman
Established: 1990
Size: 27,440 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Kingman Field Office, 928-718-3700 or www.blm.gov/az

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Wild Arizona: Up in the Chiricahuas

Judy Beachem | Chiricahua Mountains

Judy Beachem | Chiricahua Mountains

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

Chiricahua Wilderness
The mountain range for which this wilderness is named once was home to the Chiricahua Apache Tribe. There are 13 established trails here; the Morse Canyon Trail, in particular, provides views of some of the roughest country in Southeastern Arizona.

Location: Near Portal
Established: 1964
Size: 87,700 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: Douglas Ranger District, 520-364-3468 or www.fs.usda.gov/coronado

Arrastra Mountain Wilderness
It’s not easy to get here, but once you do, you’ll be treated to imposing landscapes and pristine Peoples Canyon. This wilderness a challenge for backpackers, as it lacks both designated trails and paved road access.

Location: Between Kingman and Wickenburg
Established: 1990
Size: 129,800 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Kingman Field Office, 928-718-3700 or www.blm.gov/az

Aubrey Peak Wilderness
Desert bighorn sheep are among the fauna in this wilderness, and their presence is unusual for the region — a transition zone between the Mohave and Sonoran deserts. There are no established trails, but old jeep roads lead to long-abandoned mines.

Location: South of Kingman
Established: 1990
Size: 15,400 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Kingman Field Office, 928-718-3700 or www.blm.gov/az

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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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