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BLM > Arizona > On-Line Recreation Permits > Aravaipa Canyon > Plan and Prepare
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Plan & Prepare
Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness Area
Permit System

aravaipa canyon Hiking in Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness is a wet hike. Bring sturdy shoes that will have good ankle support appropriate for hiking in the water and over rough terrain. Thick socks will protect your feet from becoming tender due to sand and gravel in your shoes. Making trails and "bush wacking" to avoid river crossings destroys wildlife habitat.

Check your pack for the outdoor essentials: safety kit, water, hat, sunscreen, map, hygiene kit (trowel, toilet paper, sealable sandwich bag for used toilet paper), sunglasses, and a light jacket. It's nice to have a dry pair of shoes and socks waiting for you back at your vehicle at the end of your hike.

Be sure you will have access to at least one gallon of drinking water per day to avoid dehydration. Aravaipa creek flows yearlong, but water must be treated before drinking.

Prepare for extreme weather by obtaining current weather information from the ranger on duty or from the National Weather Service. Flash floods occur in the summer and winter rainy seasons. It is difficult to predict exactly when a flash flood might occur. If you find yourself in a flash flood situation, get to the highest point you can. Usually flood conditions only last eight to 12 hours, but can last longer if a prolonged storm is in the area. These floods are life threatening and can be fatal. Stay in a safe place until the water subsides. Never make this hike alone. Always notify someone of your expected departure and arrival dates.

What to Expect



Natural Wonders


During the rainy seasons, avoid camping in the side canyons, across from them or near the creek. This will increase your safety during flash floods.

Do the required fees and permits apply to the entire wilderness? 

Fees are charged for the main canyon of Aravaipa Creek and its side canyons. The areas above the canyon are open to use without fees or limits.

What is the difficulty level of this hike? 

Depending on the length of your hike and the depth of the creek, the difficulty level could be easy or moderate. Hikers should be in good physical condition. Terrain is generally level but footing is often insecure due to rocky and slippery surfaces. The lack of trails requires that hikers travel through sometimes dense vegetation. Extremes in temperatures also impact hiking conditions.

Is it possible to hike Aravaipa Canyon without getting my feet wet?

No. There is not a trail in the wilderness, and hikers must cross the creek many times during a hike. Sturdy shoes, with good ankle support, that will hold up well in the water are recommended.

Can I take my dog? 

No. To prevent harassment of wildlife or other visitors, dogs and other pets are not permitted in the canyon.

I require the use of a seeing-eye dog. Is my dog allowed in the wilderness? 

Yes. Seeing eye dogs may accompany their owner on a hike. This is a rugged canyon and may not be suitable for all hikers and dogs.

Can I hike in one side and out the other? 

Yes. Hikers must make their own arrangements for vehicles; there are no shuttle services. Hiking groups sometimes meet in the middle of the canyon and switch vehicle keys.

Who do I call for additional hiking information?

The Safford Field Office.  Contact information is at the bottom of this page.

Why aren't there any signs marking the trail or side canyons? 

There is no established trail through much of the canyon bottom. Since this is a wilderness area, no signs are posted in order to preserve its wild and remote character.

Am I limited to one trip per year? 

No, however, each trip requires a separate application and payment of fees. There must be a break between visits.

Are there limits on the number of days I can reserve? 

Yes. We allow a maximum of 3 days, 2 nights in the canyon wilderness area.

What is the group size limit? 

No more than 10 persons per group. Equestrian use is limited to five (5) animals, and animals may not remain overnight in the canyon bottom.

Are there limits on the total number of people per day in the canyon?

Yes. We allow 50 people per day, 20 on the East entrance and 30 on the West entrance. A total of no more than 10 persons per group per permit. Groups should not camp in the same location as another group. The distance for groups should be out-of-sight and out-of-sound from other groups.

How many groups may enter per day?

The number of groups is not limited. However, group size is limited to 10 and the combined trailhead entry is no more than 50 persons per day.

Can I use a horse or other packstock on my trip?

Yes, however horses and packstock cannot remain in the canyon overnight. It is necessary to remove them to the uplands above the canyon each night. Due to the rugged nature of the canyon, only horses and stock that are sure-footed on rocks and in water crossings are recommended. Minimize impacts of stock animals to streamside vegetation. Equestrian use is limited to five (5) animals and a maximum of three (3) consecutive days.

Can I ride my ATV, mountain bike, or use my hang glider?

No. These and other motorized and mechanical vehicles are specifically prohibited by the Wilderness Act and BLM wilderness management policy.

  Safford Field Office
711 14th Avenue
Safford, AZ 85546-3337
Phone: (928) 348-4400
Fax: (928) 348-4450
Field Manager:  Scott Cooke
Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., M-F