Big Horn Mountains Wilderness is a 21,000-acre BLM property in Arizona. It is home to the 1,800-foot high Big Horn Peak that towers above the surrounding desert plain. A nine-mile stretch of the Big Horn Mountain’s ridgeline is in the wilderness area, creating many hills, canyons, and other formations to explore for hikers and climbers. The desert is a habitat for many wildlife species, with visitors being awestruck by bighorn sheep, tortoises, and owls.
With hot temperatures soaring into the 100s during the summer, Big Horn Mountains Wilderness is most often visited from the fall through the spring. During the winter months, temperatures can quickly drop into the 30s. Visitors should come prepared for changing conditions. There is very little shade, no matter the time of year. Even during the cooler months, sun exposure is unavoidable. Come with plenty of water and sunscreen.
Dispersed camping is permitted on BLM land. Camping at Big Horn Mountains Wilderness is remote. Visitors will enjoy the serenity and star-filled skies during their stay. Leave No Trace principles should be honored by those camping on BLM property. Campers should use already established campsites whenever possible to avoid the destruction of resources. If seeking modern amenities, the Salome KOA is less than 60 miles away.
Big Horn Mountains Wilderness is in Arizona about 60 miles west of Phoenix. Visitors to the wilderness area can stock up on supplies in Phoenix or in the community of Tonopah, which is just southeast of the wilderness. Tonopah is small, with limited services. To access Big Horn Mountains Wilderness, take Salome Road, which connects from I-10. From there, the northern, eastern, and western wilderness boundaries can be accessed from unmaintained dirt roads.
The conditions of the roads that serve as the wilderness boundaries can vary. It is encouraged to access these roads with high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles. The wilderness is a remote area, and cell service may be intermittent. You’ll want to come equipped to handle road and weather conditions. It is wise to bring a spare tire or two because of rough conditions on some roads.
For adventurers with the proper vehicle and equipment, a jeep trail connects Big Horn Mountains Wilderness with the neighboring Hummingbird Springs Wilderness. Travel on the jeep trail should not be attempted without high clearance and four-wheel-drive.
For RVers who are looking to enjoy amenities during their camping trip, the Salome KOA is 54 miles away. Due to the rough nature of the roads surrounding the wilderness, it’s about a two-hour drive from the wilderness to the campground. Surrounded by desert public lands, the KOA is a great option for those planning to explore Big Horn Mountains Wilderness along with other desert areas.
The KOA offers many amenities to its guests. Open year-round, reservations are accepted. Many campsites can accommodate big rigs, with 60 feet as the longest pull-through. Guests can relax in the pool and hot tub which are open year-round. WiFi is offered throughout the campground. Hot showers and laundry facilities are on-site. For guests with dogs, there is a dog run area for your pup to burn off some energy. A unique amenity to the Salome KOA are ATV trails which lead from the KOA into the surrounding desert.
Primitive camping is permitted on this BLM property. However, there are no developed BLM campgrounds. Campers will find dispersed campsites along the boundary roads. As with any public land, established campsites should be used when possible. There are no amenities at or immediately surrounding the wilderness area. Visitors will want to come prepared for a remote camping experience.
Temperatures at Big Horn Mountains Wilderness range from the 30s during the winter to the 100s during the summertime. Campers will want to keep an eye on weather conditions leading up to their trip and plan accordingly. The wilderness is open desert with no shade. When camping, bring protection from the harsh desert sun. The area only receives an average of six inches of rainfall each year. Campers should bring plenty of water for the duration of their stay and extra for any hiking or climbing that is planned.
There are no designated trails at Big Horn Mountains Wilderness. However, there is still plenty of opportunity for hiking. The ridgeline of the Big Horn Mountains runs across the wilderness area for about nine miles, dropping into canyons, fissures, and finally down to the plains.
Many of these lower canyons and hills make for a moderate to strenuous hiking experience. For easier hiking, explore the plains and smaller formations. The best times of year to hike are during the fall, winter, and spring, before and after the hot summers. Keep an eye out for wildlife while hiking and don’t forget to bring along your camera.
The upper area of the nine-mile stretch of ridgeline running across the wilderness is great for climbing. Many of the rugged ridges have vertical cracks in the walls, attracting climbers.
These climbs aren’t for beginners or the faint of heart. Only expert-level climbers should attempt the climb up these walls. Bring your knowledge, gear, and extra water along to make for a day of climbing.
There are many rough, unmaintained dirt roads along the wilderness boundaries that can be enjoyed by jeeps and other high clearance vehicles with four-wheel-drive. On the northeast end of the wilderness is a jeep trail that connects Big Horn Mountains Wilderness and Hummingbird Springs Wilderness.
This route should not be attempted by those without a high clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle. You’ll pass by beautiful landscape as you navigate the rough roads leaving one wilderness area and enter the other.
The Big Horn Mountains Wilderness is a habitat for many different types of wildlife that have adapted and thrive in desert conditions. Bighorn sheep are often sighted along the hills and cliffs. Both barn and great horned owls often nest along the cliff walls. Gila monsters, fox, desert tortoise, and golden eagles are also known to the area. Keep an eye out for the many different desert animals while hiking, climbing, or off-roading.
When visiting Big Horn Mountains Wilderness, you won’t want to forget to pack your camera. No matter your skill level, you’ll enjoy capturing the beautiful scenery, vegetation, and mountain views. The area is a great place to practice for the amateur photographer and still enjoyed by the experienced.
Whether you’re enjoying the scenery and views from your primitive campsite, out exploring the canyons, or on the jeep trail, there are many photo opportunities throughout the wilderness area.
Big Horn Mountains Wilderness is an area that is used for nature studies. With the desert climate, vegetation, wildlife, and landscape, it’s an area of interest to both experts and enthusiasts. Explore the mountainous ridges, the narrow canyons, and small hills in the area.
Within them, you’ll find various vegetation such as cacti and ironwood. Many types of wildlife thrive in the desert climate that are migratory or even live in the desert throughout the year.