If you are looking to experience some solitude and serenity in southern Arizona, look no further than the Coyote Mountains Wilderness. Located around 40 miles southwest of Tucson, the Coyote Mountains Wilderness Arizona is most commonly known for being home to the Coyote Mountains.
This area contains many beautiful areas for wilderness lovers to explore, including massive cliff faces, open canyons, and many tall mountains. The area was first designated as wilderness in the 1990s and consists of 5,100 acres that are free for you to camp in and explore. Since this wilderness is in southern Arizona, the temperates can easily exceed 100 degrees, so visitors must be prepared. There are no water collection points within the Coyote Mountains Wilderness area, so you will have to haul your own water in. And don't expect to find any amenities this far out in the desert.
If you are comfortable with remote trekking, this area is amazing for hiking, rock climbing, photography, stargazing, and sight-seeing due to the untouched environment. The edge of the wilderness is also around four miles from Kitt Peak National Observatory, so if you are a space-lover, this is a must-see. There are no developed campgrounds or camping areas within the Coyote Mountains Wilderness, but you can make use of this BLM land and camp for free. If you would like to stay at a campground, you have many options closer to Tuscon, including the Tucson / Lazydays KOA Resort and Tuscon Mountain Park. The Coyote Mountains Wilderness is accessible all year round.
Transporting yourself and your rig to the Coyote Mountains Wilderness is very straightforward since there is a road that will take you directly to it. Once you arrive in the actual wilderness area, though, there are no developed roads for you to drive on, so if you want to explore, you will have to park your RV and trek into the 5,100 acres. If you want to check out the wilderness area on the western side, there is an undeveloped road located on the way to Kitt Peak. None of the roads will be able to take you to the top of the Coyote Mountains. If you need to pick up any supplies before your wilderness adventure, there are a few places that you can stop in along the way. The best options will be Sells (around 25 miles away) if you are traveling from the west, or Tucson (around 43 miles away) for those coming from the east. Tucson is also the closest major city to Coyote Mountains Wilderness and is the only major population area within two hours. Stock up on gas and water on the way so that you don't get stuck in the desert.
You will not be able to park in most of the Coyote Mountains Wilderness Area due to the mountainous terrain. However, there are flat places to park and camp once you enter the area from the main road.
While there are places to stay for free within Coyote Mountains Wilderness since it is on BLM land, if you want any amenities, you will have to head east to Tucson. One of the best options for RV camping in this great city is the Tucson / Lazydays KOA Resort.
Located on the southeast side of town, here you will find over 150 RV friendly sites that have some great amenities to choose from. These include sites with fireplaces, 50 amp electrical hookups, water, and sewer hookups. The campground is known to be very clean, and the friendly staff will assist you with anything that you may need help with. RV's up to 73 feet in length will be able to stay here, and the campground is open all year round.
Reservations for Tucson / Lazydays KOA Resort should be made online before you arrive as this campground is very popular, especially during the cooler months.
Another excellent option for developed camping within driving distance from Coyote Mountains Wilderness is the campground at Tuscon Mountain Park. Managed by the local government, Tucson Mountain Park has one campground (known as the Gilbert Ray Campground) that is the perfect place for RV lovers looking for first-come, first-served camping.
The campground features 130 RV friendly sites for you to choose from, all of which are equipped with 30 amp electrical hookups. Other amenities within the campground include multiple water collection points, two dump stations, restrooms, and picnic tables. Please note that there are no showers at Gilbert Ray Campground, so you should come prepared.
Since there are no reservations allowed at the campground, all 130 sites are only available for you to choose from when you arrive. For this reason, we recommend you arrive promptly at the campground if you would like the option of choosing from the most available sites. Wood fires are not allowed, and peak season runs from November through to April.
Snyder Hill BLM camp is located on the west side of Tucson. This is a great area to camp if you don't have extra money to spend. It is made up of four different levels, which will give campers much more privacy. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and are available to RV campers only.
This is also a great place to camp if you're looking for something closer to the city. This is considered dry camping, so bringing your own water is crucial. There are plenty of trails around the area where you can hike or bike at your leisure.
Snyder Hill can give people visiting Coyote Mountains Wilderness a beautiful place to rest their heads. It may be important to note that there are many rattlesnakes in the area, please make sure you and your family are educated on how to react if a rattlesnake approaches you.
If you are looking for marked hiking trails, then the Coyote Mountains Wilderness isn't the place for you, but there are so many great places to explore that you really don't need trails anyway.
When exploring the wilderness, remember to watch out for any flora and fauna and to step in areas that have already been disturbed. Hiking is recommended during the wintertime due to the harsh heat that encompasses the wilderness during the summer months.
For the brave souls who want to try and conquer Coyote Peak, some old overgrown trails will take you to the top. This climb should take all day to go up and down, and the elevation is over 6500 feet. Not many people climb the peak (around one to two a year on average), but if you do want to put the time in, the views will be well worth it. Since the trail is quite overgrown and unmarked, it is common to go off-route accidentally, so try to keep track of where you are walking at all times.
No visit to the Coyote Mountains Wilderness would be complete without heading directly east to the Kitt Peak Observatory. This national observatory was first opened in 1964 and offers locals and visitors the chance to learn more about the sky, whether that be during the day or night time. The observatory also features a museum and gift shop, so there is plenty for you to do. For more information on the programs run at the observatory, check out their website.
Whether you are just stopping through or planning to visit Coyote Mountains Wilderness for a longer period of time, you must make sure to bring your camera. There are so many great shots waiting for you to take, especially at night time when the sky transforms into a sea of stars. Since you will be far away from any electrical hookups, we recommend bringing multiple charged batteries so you won't have to worry about conserving battery life.
Since this is a desert, there are a limited number of animals that you will be able to see during your visit. However, that doesn't mean that this wilderness is empty by any means.
Some of the animals that are found in Coyote Mountains Wilderness include mountain lions, bobcats, various species of deer, and badgers. Be sure to steer clear of these animals if you do see them from a distance and to watch their movements closely.
If you don't decide to visit Kitt Peak Observatory, you will still be able to enjoy the dark skies of Coyote Mountains Wilderness that are perfect for stargazing all year round.
If you have binoculars, you could use them to enhance your experience, but they are not necessary as there are so many stars that fill the night sky. If you keep a keen eye out you may even be able to see a shooting star, how cool!