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Red Cliffs National Conservation Area

Recreating Inside the NCA

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area has myriad recreational opportunities. It encompasses two wilderness areas, the Red Cliffs Recreation Area, the Red Cliffs Campground, over a hundred miles of non-motorized trails, as well as heritiage public use sites.
 
Despite its location on the urban interface, the NCA lands are rugged and provide few amenities. Many visitors have underestimated this desert environment making errors in estimated travel times, water needs, and various other factors that affect their safety and well-being. Always take the time to adequately prepare for your outing.
 
Currently, recreation inside the NCA follows the use management strategies and prescriptions as set forth in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve Public Use Plan (except for those activities that fall under BLM national policy). A new Resource Management Plan for the 45,000 acres of public lands within the NCA is underway. For more information about the planning process click here.
 
Upland and Lowland Zones
Recreation uses are guided by the biological sensitivity, ecological durability, and resiliency of the habitats found within the NCA. Generally, the area described as the Upland Zone is less biologically sensitive and more ecologically durable, whereas the Lowland Zone is more biologically sensitive and less durable. Consequently, the Upland Zone has fewer recreation use restrictions and offers the greatest freedom for recreational users. Conversely, the Lowland Zone has many recreation use restrictions in order to protect sensitive species and their habitats. The recreation uses prescribed below are intended to balance resource protection with recreational access.

Non-Motorized Trails

Camping Inside the NCA

Orson Adams House

Red Cliffs Recreation Area

SGFO Trails List


Two hikers in Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness in the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area


RED CLIFFS DESERT RESERVE PUBLIC USE PLAN

Parking
Parking is allowed only in designated trailheads.
 
Motorized Vehicle Use
All motorized users must stay on designated roads.
 
Hiking
Lowland Zone: Hikers must stay on designated trails.
Upland Zone: Hikers may travel off-trail.
 
Mountain Biking
Mountain Bikers must stay on designated trails in both Upland and Lowland Zones. Biking is prohibited in Wilderness areas.
 
Horseback Riding
Lowland Zone: Riders must stay on designated trails.
Upland Zone: Riders may travel off-trail.
All riders are required to use only certified weed-free hay, straw, or mulch.
 
Rock Climbing and Sport Rappelling
Rock climbing and rappelling are allowed only in designated areas. On BLM manages only one site on public lands: Turtle Wall. See the Rock Climbing website for more information.
 
Rock Scrambling
Rock scrambling is allowed only in the Upland Zone.
 
Hunting
Lowland Zone: Licensed hunting allowed except west of Cottonwood Road.
Upland Zone: Licensed hunting allowed.
 
Firearms
The discharge of firearms is prohibited except by a licensed hunter in the act of hunting during official hunting seasons and in accordance with city and county ordinances.
 
Camping
See Camping Inside the NCA for detailed information.
 
Other Recreational Activities
Paintball, target shooting, base jumping, and other recreational activities inconsistent with
resource protection are prohibited.
 
Campfires
Lowland Zone: Campfires are allowed only in the Red Cliffs Campground in designated fire rings. Wood gathering is prohibited.
Upland Zone: Campfires are allowed unless fire restrictions are in place. Wood gathering is restricted to dead and down.
 
Pets
All pets must be on a leash. Hunting dogs are allowed to travel off-leash with a licensed hunter in the act of hunting during official hunting seasons.
 
 
BLM NATIONAL POLICY GUIDANCE
 
Geocaching
Geocache placement requires BLM approval. See the Geocaching website for detailed information.
 
Commercial Use/Competitive Use
All commercial and competitive users require a Special Recreation Permit. See the Special Recreation Permits website for detailed information.
 
Group Use
Organized group activities and events require a Special Recreation Permit. See the Special Recreation Permits website for detailed information.
 
Damaging Resources
Defacing, damaging, removing, or altering archeological sites, artifacts, fossils,
vegetation, and wildlife are prohibited.