Narrow and twisting Aravaipa Canyon is a picturesque example of the Southwest’s desert country. Aravaipa Creek, shaded by cottonwoods, has cut a trough up to 1,000 feet deep in the Galiuro Mountains and the canyon walls are wondrously carved and painted in subtle sandy colors. Elevation in this wilderness ranges from approximately 2,600 to 4,900 feet. The creek runs year-round from springs, seeps, and tributary streams. Along the water grows one of the lushest riparian habitats in southern Arizona. The main canyon's length is about 11 miles, and the Wilderness extends well beyond it to include surrounding tablelands and nine side-canyons. Six species of native desert fish may be found here, along with desert bighorn sheep, an extensive variety of large and small mammals and reptiles, and at least 238 species of birds. Caves and ledges provide habitat for 12 known species of bats.
Advanced reservation will ensure your trip to the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness as this stretch of incredible scenic wonder, filled with biological treasures, has attracted enough human traffic to make overuse a problem since the 1960s. This may make solitude difficult to find, but the attention is well deserved since you'll find the area’s canyon hiking to be truly spectacular. Although there are no marked trails in the Wilderness, a route follows a well-used path along the canyon, crossing through the creek several times. Most people rate the hiking as easy. The canyon grows so narrow in places that wading in the creek is the only option. Be prepared to encounter lightning storms, flash floods, as well as poisonous snakes, insects, and plants. Even though the high walls and water keep the canyon floor more humid than the surrounding desert, the summer heat can be extreme. Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness receives 10 inches of precipitation annually and temperatures range from 67 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit in July and 34 to 64 degrees in December.
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 Aravaipa Canyon 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.