Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness Permits

Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness

With towering cliffs, flowing water, and a rich diversity of flora and fauna, Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness remains as one of Arizona's truly unique areas. Its 19,410 acres of designated Wilderness beckons adventurers who yearn for solitude and scenic splendor. Located in southeast Arizona, roughly between Tucson and Phoenix, the Wilderness and surrounding public and private land conserve a vital ecosystem for future generations.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness to protect its essential wilderness character and fragile environment while providing the visitor with a world class opportunity for primitive and unconfined recreation.

Expect the wild! There are no designated trails, campsites, signs or facilities within the wilderness boundaries. The land is rugged and hikers should be in good condition to pass through dense riparian vegetation (a sign of a healthy ecosystem). All visitors should wear sturdy footwear suitable for hiking in sand, gravel, and cobble with potential for numerous stream crossings in knee-deep water. From the West trailhead (2,630 feet), expect a continuous 430 feet elevation gain over uneven terrain for 12.25 miles to the East trailhead (3,060 feet).

There are multiple side canyons, caves, outcrops, chimneys and "windows" to explore along the way. Strong or destination hikers can traverse from end to end in eight to 10 hours, while nature watchers, photographers and those wanting to explore side canyons may take one or two nights.

Aravaipa Creek flows year-round, an unusual phenomenon in the Arizona desert. Nurtured by this abundant water, large sycamore, ash, cottonwood and willow trees flourish along the stream, flanked by other riparian vegetation. In the fall, a kaleidoscope of brilliant red and golden leaves contrasts dramatically with the surrounding Sonoran Desert landscape.

Permit & Season Information

The permit allows visitors to enter the permitted area in Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, by foot or on stock, from the trailhead listed on the permit, on the dates specified by the permit. 

Permits are required year-round and reservations may be made up to 13-weeks in advance of the start date. The permit is also required for accessing the wilderness from The Nature Conservancy’s Aravaipa Canyon Preserve on the east and west boundaries. No hunting, camping, or parking is allowed on private land.

Need to Know

Printing Your Reserved Permit: 

You must print and bring your permit with you. You may print your permit as early as 14 days before your reservation date. Once your permit has been printed, you cannot make changes to the permit.

Things you should know before acquiring a permit: 

Parking:

FLASH FLOODS ARE COMMON at Aravaipa Canyon. Here are five tips for surviving a flood in the wilderness:  

1. Check the forecast and check the current flow data. A flow rate of 30-50 CFS is generally too fast and deep (knee deep) for people 5'4" and shorter. Recent floods show a spike in the CFS level which may indicate that the creek water will be muddy (difficult to filter) and that travel might be challenging due to mud and high water.  

2. Choose a campsite WAY UP HIGH, away from the creek, and have a contingency plan in case your camp floods. Every campsite in Aravaipa will flood under the right conditions.  

3. Filter clean water before it rains and before nightfall. Once the creek floods, it can be difficult/impossible to filter water from the muddy waves. Pack extra food along just in case you get stranded for a day or two. 

4. Look for high ground in case you need to get out of the water quickly. Stay on high ground if the creek floods and wait until the flood waters subside before hiking out. It can take anywhere from 8-12 hours or even longer for flood waters to subside. Floods carry huge trees, rocks, and other debris that can knock people over. Storms upstream or in one of the many side canyons may cause the creek to flood, without raining downstream.   

5. Carry a PLB for emergency assistance. Cell phones do not generally work in the wilderness.

Fee Policy

Recreation Fee: $5 per person/per day

Reservation Fee: There is a non-refundable $6.00 reservation fee for every permit transaction.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellation Policy: Permit holders may cancel their permit and receive a full refund ($6.00 reservation fee is non-refundable) if the permit is cancelled at least two weeks prior to the permit date. There is no fee for cancellations. No refunds or cancellations within two weeks of the permit date. 

Change Policy: 

Contact Information

Mailing Address

711 S. 14th Avenue Safford AZ 85546

Phone Number

928-348-4400

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