Wild and remote, difficult to access, this sprawling Wilderness preserves imposing landscapes and vividly colorful geologic features. The Poachie Range runs northwest-southeast through the north-central portion of the area and rises from 1,200 feet in the lowest points of the Wilderness to almost 5,000 feet. Southern slopes descend gradually and are interspersed with isolated volcanic plugs and numerous drainages, several of which have been incised deeply into bright orange mudstone. The western and southern portions of the Wilderness encompass more than 20 miles of the ephemeral Big Sandy and Santa Maria Rivers. On the west side of the Big Sandy stands Artillery Peak, a nearly 3,200-foot volcanic plug dominating the Artillery Mountains. In the eastern portion of the area, you'll find pristine Peoples Canyon where several springs support two miles of interconnected pools shaded by hundreds of sycamores, willows, and cottonwoods. These pearls of water attract birds, which in turn lure bird-watchers.
The Wilderness receives roughly 10 inches of precipitation annually and daytime temperatures during the summer months are over 100 degrees. Temperatures are more moderate between October 1 and April 30th. Lacking both trails and road access, Arrastra Mountain is visited by only a few backpackers. All travel here is a challenge of the highest desert Wilderness order.
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 Arrastra Mountain Wilderness.
Wilderness Access is provided off of I-40 Alamo Road Exit and off of U.S. Highway 93 at Alamo Road, 17 Mile Road, and Signal Road.
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.