Fifteen miles of the Eagletail Mountains' rough ridgeline runs right through the northern section of this Wilderness, including 3,300-foot Eagletail Peak which rises from a low point of 1,100 feet within the Wilderness boundaries. Cemetery Ridge lies along the southern border. Geology buffs can examine several distinct rock strata throughout these mountains, and everyone can marvel at such geologic wonders as natural arches, high spires and monoliths, jagged sawtooth ridges, and numerous washes between six and eight miles long. Courthouse Rock, a huge granite monolith, stands over 1,000 feet above the desert floor near the northern border and attracts technical rock climbers. Between the two main ridges stretches a vast desert plain of ocotillo, cholla, creosote, ironwood, saguaro cactus, barrel cactus, Mormon tea, mesquite, and sand. Summer temperatures rage and send up thermals upon which raptors ride as they scan the landscape for a desert rodent snack. The great horned owl and the coyote live here, but they keep themselves well hidden from backpackers, campers, and horseback riders. Temperatures can be as low as 30° Fahrenheit from December through January and can reach above 115° Fahrenheit from June to September. Precipitation generally ranges from 2 to 4 inches per year. Rainfall, which can occur at any time of the year, is often preceded by strong and sudden windstorms. Watch for cloud build up and be aware of possible flash flooding in washes and drainages.
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 Eagletail Mountains Wilderness.
The Eagletail Mountains Wilderness is located 75 miles west of Phoenix just south of Interstate 10. It covers portions of Maricopa, La Paz, and Yuma counties.
Directions to Courthouse Rock:
From Phoenix: Take I-10 west to the Salome Road exit (#81). Turn left at the stop sign and make an immediate right onto Harquahala Valley Road and follow for 5 miles to the intersection of Centennial Road and Courthouse Road. Turn right onto Centennial Road and continue west for about 6.5 miles until reaching Pipeline Road (unmarked). Turn right onto Pipeline Road and follow it for 3.8 miles until reaching backcountry route YE013 (near the Wilderness designation sign). Turn left and park near the information kiosk.
From Quartzite: Take I-10 east to the Hovatter Road exit (#53). Turn right onto Hovatter Road. After crossing over the canal, turn left onto an unmarked dirt road. After 1 mile, turn right onto YE005. Follow YE005 until it dead-ends at Pipeline Road (unmarked). Turn left and continue until reaching the natural gas pumping station. Drive around the north side of the facility and continue east on Pipeline Road for seven miles until reaching backcountry route YE013 (near the Wilderness designation sign). Turn right and park near the information kiosk.
Due to infrequent maintenance and the wide range of road conditions that you might encounter, it is strongly recommended that high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles are used for access to the Wilderness boundary.
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.
Recreational opportunities include hiking, primitive camping, horseback riding, and hunting. Noncommercial trapping is permitted in accordance with State and Federal laws. Hobby rock collecting is permitted, but limited to hand methods or detection equipment that does not cause a surface disturbance- digging and prying tools are not permitted.
To help preserve Wilderness character through responsible recreation, please:
Choose your equipment in earthtone colors that blend in with the environment.
Hike in small groups when traveling cross-country.
Camp at least ¼ mile from wildlife water sources.
Hide your camp from view and refrain from building camp structures.
Use camp stoves instead of campfires.
If you do build a fire, do not construct a fire ring and use only small sticks. Once the fire is out, scatter ashes and naturalize the area.
Pick up trash and pack it out (yours and others).
Be courteous to other people. Avoid loud music or noise and keep pets under control.
Bury human waste in cat holes 6-8 inches deep and at least 75 paces from your camp or water sources.
Climate and Special Equipment Needs
Temperatures can be as low as 30° Fahrenheit from December through January,, and can reach above 115° Fahrenheit or greater during June through September. Precipitation generally ranges from 2 to 4 inches per year. Rainfall, which can occur at any time of the year, is often preceded by strong and sudden windstorms. Watch for cloud build up and be aware of possible flash flooding in washes and drainages.
Safety and Current Conditions
For your safety:
Let a friend or relative know where you plan to go and when you plan to return.
Plan your trip. Take plenty of water; there are no permanent water sources or facilities in the Eagletail Mountains.
Be aware of poisonous animals. The Wilderness is home to many reptiles and insects whose bite or sting could ruin your day. Never put hands or feet where you can't see.
Avoid abandoned mine workings. These areas are susceptible to collapse and extremely dangerous. They are also home to a variety of animal species that might view your presence as a threat.
Be prepared for extreme temperatures. Check weather forecasts. Dehydration and heat exhaustion can be life threatening. In colder months, guard against hypothermia.
Pace yourselves and recognize your limitations as well as your abilities. The terrain is rugged and there are no established trails. Watch your footing.
Want to Volunteer for Wilderness?
Citizens who volunteer their time to steward our wilderness areas are an essential part of wilderness management. Contact the following groups to inquire about volunteer opportunities.