Wild Arizona: Up North and Out West

Jag Fergus | Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area
Formerly a vast floodplain, this terrain now is filled with petrified wood that dates to 225 million years ago. The wilderness designation extends to more than half of Petrified Forest National Park, and backpacking and camping are permitted in the wilderness.

Location: Northeast of Holbrook
Established: 1970
Size: 50,260 acres
Managed by: National Park Service
Contact: Petrified Forest National Park, 927-524-6228 or www.nps.gov/pefo

Swansea Wilderness
This wilderness includes a 6-mile stretch of the Bill Williams River rarely seen by humans. In the north are eroded volcanic dikes and plugs, and in the west are the rounded Buckskin Mountains. The few humans who visit are mostly rock climbers and horseback riders.

Location: East of Lake Havasu City
Established: 1990
Size: 16,400 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Lake Havasu Field Office, 928-505-1200 or www.blm.gov/arizona

Warm Springs Wilderness
Black Mesa, a 10-mile-long plateau 1,000 feet above the surrounding desert, dominates this wilderness. If there’s enough rain in the winter, look for blooms on ocotillos, cactuses and other plants. There are water sources that make extended backpacking trips possible, but bring a map and compass.

Location: North of Lake Havasu City
Established: 1990
Size: 112,400 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Kingman Field Office, 928-718-3700 or www.blm.gov/arizona

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each afternoon in September, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we’re spotlighting three of Arizona’s 90 wilderness areas. For more information about any of the state’s wilderness areas, visit Wilderness.net, a collaboration between several wilderness-related organizations. The information here comes from that site and the wilderness areas’ managing agencies. Always contact the managing agency before visiting a wilderness to learn about any restrictions that may be in effect. To see our entire Wild Arizona series, click here.

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