Wild Arizona: Three Places to Find Bighorn Sheep

(Photo: Claudia Banks | Santa Catalina Mountains)

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. 

Pusch Ridge Wilderness

The site of this year’s controversial bighorn-sheep reintroduction, Pusch Ridge, in the Santa Catalina Mountains, reaches more than 9,000 feet above sea level, offering great views of nearby Tucson. The wilderness is heavily visited, as summer temperatures can be 30 degrees cooler than those in the city below.

Location: North of Tucson
Established: 1978
Size: 56,933 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: Santa Catalina Ranger District, 520-749-8700 or www.fs.usda.gov/coronado

Big Horn Mountains Wilderness

This wilderness includes 9 miles of its titular mountain range, and you’re likely to see desert bighorn sheep, Gila monsters, kit foxes and desert tortoises here. Unmaintained dirt roads lead into the wilderness, and primitive camping opportunities are available. Water is limited and usually unavailable.

Location: West of Phoenix 
Established: 1990
Size: 21,000 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Hassayampa Field Office, 623-580-5500 or www.blm.gov/arizona

Havasu Wilderness

Stretching for 30 miles along the Colorado River, this wilderness is a haven for birds, bighorn sheep, coyotes, porcupines and bobcats. The endangered desert tortoise and the poisonous Gila monster might also be spotted here.

Location: North of Lake Havasu City
Established: 1990
Size: 17,801 acres (Arizona and California)
Managed by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Contact: Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, 760-326-3853 or www.fws.gov/refuge/havasu



Saw three coming into Payson from camp verde!

Seen some up by Big Lake and Clifton Az

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