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BLM > Arizona > On-Line Recreation Permits > Aravaipa Canyon > The Wilderness Experience
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The Wilderness Experience
Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness Area
Permit System

aravaipa wilderness areaExpect the wild! No designated trails, campsites, signs, or facilities will be found 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 footgear suitable for hiking in sand, gravel, and cobble with numerous stream crossings in water up to knee deep in normal conditions.

From the West trailhead (2630'), a continuous 430' elevation gain can be expected over uneven terrain for 11 miles to the East trailhead (3060').

The nine major side canyons will mark your course and, along with caves, outcrops, chimneys, and "windows," they will entice you to explore. Strong or destination hikers can traverse from end to end in 8 to 10 hours, while nature watchers, photographers and those wanting to explore side canyons may take one or two overnights and never see it all.

aravaipa wilderness area 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.

Why does BLM limit visitor use permits in these areas?

High visitor use, combined with the narrow nature of the canyons, small camping terraces, and changing visitor use patterns, impacts the wilderness character. Human waste, overcrowding, and public safety are significant issues. Additionally, impacts from dogs, such as harassment of other visitors and wildlife, noise, and waste are also concerns. The Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness Management Plan, states that BLM will "initiate a system to regulate recreation use if monitoring demonstrates a need to limit user numbers." The visitor use limits are intended to meet resource management goals while imposing minimum impacts on visitors.

Who issues commercial guide permits?

The BLM Safford Field Office authorizes special recreation permits for commercial guide services and certain organized group trips within Aravaipa.

Are the number of commercial guide permits limited?

At this time, there is no limit on the number of special recreation permits BLM may authorize for the area.

What to Expect



Natural Wonders


  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