On the stark eastern slopes of the Bradshaw Mountains, Castle Creek Wilderness stands between Phoenix and Flagstaff, easily accessible from both. Extremely rugged topography rises to granite peaks that top off at 7,000 feet on Juniper Ridge, offering views of the Agua Fria National Monument. In the southeastern corner of the wilderness the elevation drops to 2,800 feet. Saguaro cactus, paloverde, mesquite, jojoba, catclaw, and grasslands dominate the lower elevations. Up higher you'll find chaparral communities of shrub live oak, mountain mahogany, and manzanita with pinion and juniper on southern slopes and small stands of ponderosa pine on northern slopes. Dense populations of mule deer and javelina inhabit this area, along with a few mountain lions, bobcats, black bears, coyotes, rabbits, foxes, skunks, and badgers. Snakes and lizards live here, and numerous birds soar overhead, including doves, quail, hawks, owls, ravens, jays, and many smaller species. You'll find limited water, despite the name, and raging summer temperatures. Nine trails offer approx. 30 miles of hiking through the area.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Castle Creek Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.