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BLM > Arizona > What We Do > National Conservation Lands > Wilderness Areas > North Maricopa Mountains
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Sonoran Desert National Monument
North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness Area
Access Map (pdf) |  Wilderness Management Plan

Location and Description

This 63,200-acre wilderness lies in southwestern Maricopa County, 12 miles east of Gila Bend and 20 miles southwest of Phoenix, Arizona. It contains a 10-mile section of the Maricopa Mountains, a low-elevation (1,000 to 2,813 feet) Sonoran Desert range, and extensive surrounding desert plains. The North Maricopa Mountains are a jumble of long ridges and isolated peaks, separated by bajadas and washes. Vegetation includes saguaro, cholla, ocotillo and other Sonoran Desert plant species. Desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, coyotes, bobcat, fox, deer, Gambel's quail and raptors inhabit the wilderness.

The wilderness provides outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation, including hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, camping, wildlife observation and photography. The Margie's Cove and Brittlebush Trails take you through the heart of the North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness.


This wilderness area is a two-hour drive from metropolitan Phoenix. High-clearance and four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended because road conditions vary. Access to the wilderness from the south can be attained using dirt roads extending northward from State Route 238 (Maricopa Road). Four-wheel-drive is needed along parts of the route along the southern boundary. Access from the north can be gained via dirt roads extending south from Rainbow Valley Road and the gas pipeline maintenance road. A primitive dirt road parallels the eastern boundary.

Nonfederal Lands

Some lands around and within the wilderness are not federally administered. Please respect the property rights of the owners and do not cross over or use these lands without their permission.

Related Maps

  • 7.5-minute Topographic: Butterfield Pass, Cotton Center, Cotton Center SE, Cotton Center NW, Margies Peak, Mobile NW
  • 1:100,000 BLM Surface Management:  Phoenix South
  • Game and Fish Management Unit 39

For more information contact: 

 Sonoran Desert National Monument
Monument Manager:  Dave Scarbrough
21605 N. 7th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85027-2929
(623) 580-5500

"The wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit."
Wallace Stegner, 1969