The Sonoran Desert National Monument contains more than 487,000 acres of Sonoran Desert landscape. The Sonoran Desert is the most biologically diverse of the North American deserts, and the monument exemplifies this desert setting. The most striking aspect of the plant community within the monument is the extensive saguaro cactus forest. The monument contains three distinct mountain ranges, the Maricopa, Sand Tank and Table Top Mountains, as well as the Booth and White Hills, all separated by wide valleys. The monument is also home to three congressionally designated wilderness areas, many significant archaeological and historic sites, and remnants of several important historic trails.
From Phoenix to the western side of the national monument, take I-10 west about 31 miles to Exit 112/AZ-85, then south about 35 miles to the eastern edge of Gila Bend, AZ. Turn left on AZ-238 and proceed east about four miles to the national monument. In Gila Bend information can be obtained at the Town Museum on 644 W. Pima Street.
From Phoenix to the eastern national monument boundary, take I-10 east and south about 16 miles to Exit 164/Queen Creek Road, turn right and continue on AZ-347 about 15 miles to Maricopa, AZ. Turn right onto AZ-238 and continue west about 16 miles to the national monument.
From Phoenix to the southern part of the national monument, take I-10 south to I-8. Proceed west on I-8 to Exit 144/Vekol Road and turn south. For information about other access routes, contact BLM.
Hiking, backpacking, stargazing, camping, hunting, motor touring, sightseeing, photography, and horse back riding.
The monument offers many opportunities to explore and discover the secrets of the Sonoran Desert and includes three wilderness areas, the North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness, the South Maricopa Mountains Wilderness, and the Table Top Wilderness. These wilderness areas offer excellent opportunities for solitude and unconfined recreation. The North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness has two hiking and equestrian trails, the 9-mile Margie’s Cove Trail and the 6-mile Brittlebush Trail. The Table Top Wilderness also has two hiking and equestrian trails, the 7-mile Lava Flow Trail and the 3-mile Table Top Trail. A section of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail crosses the national monument. This congressionally designated trail parallels the Butterfield Overland Stage Route, the Mormon Battalion Trail, and the Gila Trail. A four-wheel-drive accessible route follows the trail corridor for approximately 10 miles through the national monument.
Permits, Fees, Limitations