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Wilderness Areas of Southern Arizona

Drug and human smuggling activities have made Arizona's wilderness areas extremely unsafe. We no longer encourage you to visit them.

Arizona--Ranking #3 with 4,528,913 acres of designated Wilderness

Only Alaska and California have more acres of Wilderness area than Arizona, which has over 4.5 million acres of protected wilderness. And a large part of that is right here in southern Arizona.

Cabeza PrietaCabeza Prieta, FWS photo from Wilderness Area

The Cabeza Prieta Wilderness Area is Arizona's largest Wilderness Area, encompassing nearly 93 percent of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. This Wilderness spans across 803,418 acres of pristine desert. Rugged mountains and broad desert valleys along with sand dunes and lava flows dominate the region.

Watch for mule deer, rabbits, kangaroo rats, pocket gophers, and cactus wrens living among the chollas, creosote bushes, mesquite, and ocotillo. The Sonoran desert climate is ideal for the giant saguaro as well as the many reptiles such as side-blotched lizards, desert horned lizards, Great Basin whiptails, and six species of rattlesnakes. Among these are the sidewinders, Mojave rattlers, and western diamondback rattlers.

Four federal agencies manage designated Wilderness areas; they are the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service and the National Park Service. Below is a list of the Wilderness areas of southern Arizona sorted by managing agency.

BLM--Safford Field Office

  • Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness
  • Dos Cabezas Mountains Wilderness
  • Fishhooks Wilderness
  • North Santa Teresa Wilderness
  • Peloncillo Mountains Wilderness
  • Redfield Canyon Wilderness

BLM--Tucson Field Office

  • Baboquivari Peak Wilderness
  • Coyote Mountains Wilderness
  • Needle's Eye Wilderness
  • White Canyon Wilderness

Fish and Wildlife Service

  • Cabeza Prieta NWR, Cabeza Prieta Wilderness
  • Kofa NWR, Kofa Wilderness

Forest Service, Coronado National Forest

  • Chiricahua Wilderness
  • Galiuro Wilderness
  • Miller Peak Wilderness
  • Mt. Wrightson Wilderness
  • Pajarita Wilderness
  • Pusch Ridge Wilderness
  • Rincon Mountain Wilderness
  • Santa Teresa Wilderness

National Park Service

  • Chiricahua NM, Chiricahua National Monument Wilderness
  • Organ Pipe Cactus NM, Organ Pipe Cactus Wilderness
  • Saguaro NP, Saguaro Wilderness

Some areas may be closed when fire danger is high.
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