Sonoran Desert National Monument
The Sonoran Desert National Monument contains magnificent examples of untrammeled Sonoran Desert landscape. The monument sits in the most biologically diverse of the North American deserts and captures a significant portion of that diversity. The most striking aspect of the plant community in 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 also contains three congressionally designated wilderness areas, archaeological and historic sites, and remnants of several important historic trails.
Interstate 8 and State Route 238 cross the monument. Most other roads are primitive and not maintained. High clearance or 4-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended in some areas.
Things to Do
hiking and horseback riding
driving and biking
history and archaeology
Regulations, Permits, and Fees
Visits to the Sand Tank Mountains, located south of Interstate 8, require a Barry M. Goldwater Range permit. Permits are only available online and not at the local BLM office.
Competitive events and organized activities with 25 or more participants require a permit. Contact the monument office for more information.
Motorized and mechanized vehicles, including bicycles must remain on existing routes.
Collecting, removing, or damaging natural and cultural resources, including artifacts, plants (live or dead), and rocks, is prohibited.
This is a remote area and access roads are not maintained. Cell phones do not work in many areas of the monument.
Heat and Sun
It's best to enjoy the monument from late October to mid-April. If you are visiting in summer, take extra precautions to drink plenty of water, as temperatures may exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit. We recommend sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. Weather forecast
Bring all the water you will need. There is no drinking water available on the monument. Plan on drinking one gallon (4 liters) per person per day—more if you're engaged in strenuous activities.
Make sure your gas tank is full, carry additional water and full-size spare tires in your vehicle, and make sure your vehicle is in good working condition.
Flash floods caused by sudden storms can be dangerous in washes.
Drug and human smuggling activities have occurred within the monument south of Interstate 8. Be alert for illegal activities and law enforcement operations. If you see any activity that looks illegal, suspicious, or out of place, do not intervene. Call 911 to report emergencies.
The Sonoran Desert National Monument is in south central Arizona, 60 miles from Phoenix. Interstate 8 provides some access at the Vekol interchange (Exit 144) and the Freeman Interchange (Exit 140). Arizona Route 238 and the Maricopa Road afford access to the North Maricopa Mountains and the Butterfield Overland Stage Route.