Woolsey Peak Wilderness offers rugged topgraphy, colorful scenic vistas, rich variety of wildlife and vegetation, and outstanding opportunities for solitude and unconfined recreation. Woolsey Peak stands at 3,270 feet above sea level and approximately 2,500 feet above the Gila River (to the south). It is a geographical landmark visible from much of southwestern Arizona. The Painted Rock Dam blocks the Gila River not far from the southwestern corner of the area. Encompassing a major portion of the Gila Bend Mountains, it is just barely separated from the smaller Signal Mountain Wilderness to the north. You'll find sloping lava flows, basalt mesas, ragged peaks, and broken ridges dotted with saguaro, cholla, paloverde, creosote, and bursage. Desert mesquite, paloverde, and ironwood grow in the washes thoughout this rugged and expansive desert Wilderness.
The region is especially inviting for its desert backpacking. Desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, bobcats, mountain lions, hawks, and owls might make an appearance.
Leave No Trace
Leave the area a you would like to find it. Pack out all trash; do not bury it, as animals will dig it up after you leave. Dogs disturb wildlife and other visitors; if you bring a dog, keep it under control at all times. If you need a fire, keep it small and away from rock outcrops. If you build a fire ring, please dismantle it when you are through and bury the ashes before leaving the area. Cigarette butts, pull-tabs, orange peels, etc. are all litter. PACK IT IN - PACK IT OUT.
Woolsey Peak Wilderness is located in the southwestern boundary of Maricopa County, within two hours of driving time from Metropolitan Phoenix. Access to the northern and eastern boundaries is via Old U.S. 80, Agua Caliente and Enterprise Roads. The southern and western boundaries are accessed from Interstate 8, Painted Rock Dam Road and Citrus Valley Road.
The wilderness area is bounded on the north by several primitive, two-track vehicle routes and approximately two miles of a livestock grazing allotment boundary fence. The eastern boundary is defined almost entirely by a prominent ridge of the Gila Bend Mountains. The southern boundary is comprised primarily by the legal boundary that delineated the Painted Rock Reservoir withdrawal; however, approximately five miles of primitive, two-track vehicle routes and one mile of grazing allotment boundary fence also make up the southern boundary. The western boundary is a primitive, two-track vehicle route.
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.
The most frequently used access to Woolsey Peak Wilderness is via Old U.S. 80, a paved highway, the Agua Caliente Road, an improved dirt road, and jeep trails. Travel to Signal Mountain Wilderness requires a high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle. For specific access contact the Lower Sonoran Field Office.
The Woolsey Peak Wilderness offers outstanding recreational opportunities for cross-country foot and horseback travel, rock climbing, hunting and wildlife viewing. However, there are no marked trails, campsites, or other developed recreational amenities.
Climate and Special Equipment Needs
The Woolsey Peak Wilderness receives the greatest use from October through April, when the temperature is best suited for visiting. The wilderness area is prone to heavy rains and flash floods during the summer months. One should be prepared for hot and cold exposure with the correct clothing and equipment.
Safety and Current Conditions
As with other types of outdoor activities, wilderness travel poses some potential hazards. You may encounter flashfloods, poisonous snakes and insects, poisonous plants, and lightning storms. Be aware of your exposure to heat or cold. Don panic if you get lost. Carry an smple supply of water with you since the area has inadequate or contaminated water sources.
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.