Centuries ago the Salado Indians built and lived in cliff dwellings in this region, and the ruins of many of them still stand today. An "original" Arizona Wilderness, Sierra Ancha was established as a Primitive Area in 1933 and as a Wilderness in 1964. Uranium exploration carved a few roads into this area in the 1950s, roads now being reclaimed by natural processes. Exceptionally rough, scenic, and often inaccessible, Sierra Ancha consists of precipitous box canyons, towering vertical cliffs, and pine-covered mesas. Elevations range from 4,000 feet near Cherry Creek to more than 7,400 feet on several high peaks, with the highest point on Aztec Peak at 7,733 feet. Chaparral covers lower elevations with turbinella oak, manzanita, and mountain mahogany. Some pinion and juniper cloak the east side of the Wilderness, dropping to semidesert brush and grassland below. Several springs usually offer water year-round, but there is no guarantee. Thirteen trailheads give access to a well-maintained network of foot and horse pathways. The Center Mountain Trail climbs 2.5 miles for some excellent views of the surrounding area. Group size is limited to 15 people and 15 head of livestock. Length of stay is limited to 14 days.
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 Sierra Ancha 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.