East Cactus Plain Wilderness
Guide

Introduction

If you feel the sweet sound of adventure calling your name, consider a visit to Arizona's East Cactus Plain Wilderness. It's a wonderful place for your next RV getaway.

East Cactus Plain Wilderness is a Bureau of Land Management property that rests near to Vicksburg, Arizona. This popular recreational area became a designated national wilderness in 1990. A property comprised of 14.630 acres, East Cactus Plain Wilderness is a beloved gathering place for outdoor enthusiasts on the hunt for their next great adventure.

Situated near to the small town of Bouse and within the Lower Colorado Valley Region, East Cactus Plain Wilderness bears pride of place among 25 other similar undeveloped properties within this portion of the state. An area best described as a desert, this wilderness is largely comprised of sand. Its elevation ranges from 1,200 to 1,500 feet.

Though the region enjoys a dry, arid climate, many types of vegetation do thrive here, including such varieties of plants as wooly heads, sand flat milk vetch, and Death Valley Mormon tea; all types of vegetation not found in any other area of the state. Horned lizards, elf owls, and the Mojave Desert fringe-toed lizard also make this region their home.

East Cactus Plain Wilderness experiences chilly temperatures during December and January and intense heat from July through September each year. The region sees very little rain annually, making it quite humid and dry.

There are many different outdoor activities that attract visitors to East Cactus Plain Wilderness. Among the most popular attractions are horseback riding, backpacking, sightseeing, photography, and wildlife viewing. The property is also situated near to many beloved sites including the Hoover Dam, the Harquahala Peak Smithsonian Observatory, and Dick Wick Hall's Historical Marker and Gravesite.

An area with no designated hiking trails, the terrain is both rough and rugged at East Cactus Plain Wilderness. Primitive style camping is available directly on the wilderness grounds, with other nearby campgrounds offering both tent and RV camping options for families to enjoy.

If you're looking to enjoy a true wilderness camping experience in the heart of the desert, load up the RV and head to East Cactus Plain Wilderness. You'll have an amazing time!

RV Rentals in East Cactus Plain Wilderness

Transportation

Driving

Travel to East Cactus Plain Wilderness will require some driving and some traversing of the sandy landscape on foot. There are several boundary roads of two-lane construction that provide the greatest access to this popular recreational area. Swansea Road provides access from the east with a road primarily reserved for powerline repair work providing entrance from the northwest.

East Cactus Plain Wilderness is well-marked with signs to alert visitors to the park's entrance. Access to the wilderness itself is only achieved on foot or in a vehicle equipped with 2WD at a minimum. The entrance is found within walking distance of the road, allowing visitors to leave their vehicles in a parking space near to the road and to hike the remaining distance. Medium clearance vehicles should have no difficulty with this route provided it is not raining. During inclement weather, the sand becomes too dense for travel into the wilderness.

Animals do occasionally enter the road space, so remain alert for their presence to avoid an accident.

Parking

There is no designated parking lot available at East Cactus Plain Wilderness. However, there is ample space for parking along the side of the main roads.

Public Transportation

There is no public transportation available to East Cactus Plain Wilderness due to its remote location.

Campgrounds and parking in East Cactus Plain Wilderness

Campsites in East Cactus Plain Wilderness

Reservations camping

La Paz County Park Campground

La Paz County Park Campground is located in nearby Wenden, Arizona. This camping facility offers RV and tent camping sites year-round by reservation only. One hundred and fourteen RV sites offer water, power, and cable TV hookups. Also available for rent are private riverfront ramadas complete with a cabana, grill, and drinking water. Dry camping is also available with these sites protected by shade and equipped with a grill.
The property is home to 12 buildings with bathrooms, four of which contain indoor showers. Other amenities on the grounds include two boat launches, a lagoon ramp, Wifi, horseshoe pits, a beachfront walkway, volleyball and tennis courts, a playground, a putting green, a softball field, and a walking track.
Dogs may join their owners on the grounds but are to be leashed at all times.

Salome KOA Campground

Salome KOA Campground offers RV and tent camping by reservation on a year-round basis. Located in the heart of the McMullen Valley, this campground offers power hookups and is able to accommodate RVs and trailers of up to 60 feet in length. Dogs are welcome on the premises but must remain leashed.

Among the on-site amenities are Wifi, an outdoor pool, a hot tub, a sauna, a mini-golf course, ATV trails, billiards, a dog run, quad trails, and laundry facilities for a fee.

This campground is located within a short drive of Phoenix, giving families access to the big city life while still enjoying the benefits of country living.

Generator use is not permitted on the grounds.

Alternate camping

East Cactus Plain Wilderness

East Cactus Plain Wilderness offers primitive style camping conditions directly on their premises. The property is best suited to tenting since at a minimum, a 4WD vehicle is required to successfully navigate the sand dunes. Access to the grounds is limited during bouts of inclement weather as the sand becomes too dense to drive on.

There are no amenities provided at East Cactus Plain Wilderness. Families planning to camp here should bring drinking water with them as there is no water access on the property.

Dogs are welcome on the grounds but must remain on a leash at all times.

Vicksburg BLM Campground

Vicksburg BLM Campground is a camping facility that is also under the oversight of the Bureau of Land Management. The property sits at an elevation of 1,421 feet in height and is open year-round for RV and tent camping.
There is a maximum stay of 14 days. No amenities are provided at this extremely primitive campground. Located in a remote part of the state, families looking to reconnect with nature and experience life as a pioneer on undeveloped land will be delighted with an overnight stay at this beautiful wilderness camping locale.
Dogs are welcome on the premises but must remain leashed.

Seasonal activities in East Cactus Plain Wilderness

Off-Season

Hoover Dam

An experience not to be missed when visiting East Cactus Plain Wilderness is a trip to Hoover Dam. Tours are offered daily which offer the opportunity to learn more about the Dam's history and current function. Each tour is guided and provides access to areas of the dam typically kept off-limits to the public.
The tour consists of an hour walk through the on-site power plant and passageways contained within the dam. A shorter tour of just the power plant is also available for families looking to do less walking.
Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Each ticket includes admission to the on-site Visitors Center.
For those who suffer from claustrophobia, have a pacemaker, or wear a defibrillator, tours of the Hoover Dam are not recommended due to the electromagnetic fields encountered while on the premises.

La Paz County Centennial Park

A popular recreational area and camping facility, families love to visit La Paz County Centennial Park located in nearby Wenden, Arizona.
This much-loved attraction offers many fun activities for families to enjoy. Among the on-site amenities are boat launches, a lagoon ramp, horseshoe pits, a beachfront walkway, volleyball and tennis courts, a playground, a putting green, a softball field, and a walking track.
Dogs are welcomed at La Paz County Centennial Park but must remain leashed at all times.
Tent and RV camping is also available by reservation. There are also riverfront ramadas for rent, which offer luxurious amenities. Dry camping with large tree cover is also found on the grounds.

Dick Wick Hall's Historical Marker and Gravesite

To experience a bit of the local culture, a visit to Dick Wick Hall's Historical Marker and Gravesite is a must. Found on Highway 60 when traveling the route towards Wickenburg and Prescott, there is a marker denoting the Arizona town of Salome. This same marker pays homage to a man named Dick Wick Hall, whose grave also resides on the same premises. Mr. Hall hailed from Creston, Iowa, and was renowned as a humorist, writer, prospector, businessman, and road-sign pioneer.
Hall moved to Arizona at age 21 after completing his degree in ornithology and engineering. His ambitions included dwelling among the Hopi people to learn the secrets behind their infamous Snake Dance. His path took a different trajectory, including stints in government office and managing an amusement park before finally starting a local newspaper, which later met an untimely demise.
Hall played a vital role in founding the town that bears his name, with the intention of the town becoming an important stop on a railroad planning to install tracks in the region. Unfortunately, the tracks were laid 20 miles outside the town. Determined to become a railroad town, Hall relocated the Salome Post Office to be central to the new railway line. In the process, gold was discovered on the premises, leading to a new occupation for him. In an attempt to lure investors to the town, Hall wrote articles to promote the mining opportunities in Salome and began to petition the town for road improvements to support town growth.
Among Hall's other career achievements include the founding of the "Laughing Gas Station" and the development of funny road signs. In 1926, Hall became a screenwriter for the famed Universal Studios. Unfortunately, his life was cut short later that year due to infection as a result of a multi-tooth extraction.

In-Season

Picnicking

Though largely a vast expanse of desert, picnicking is still a very popular activity for families visiting East Cactus Plain Wilderness. Since the area is very sandy, you'll want to pack a picnic blanket to spread your feast out on before you dig into your tasty meal.

Weather conditions are very hot, humid, and dry at East Cactus Plain Wilderness. Water is not available on the premises, and during the hottest times of the day, dehydration is a serious concern. Be sure to bring lots of drinking water along with you to prevent becoming ill from the heat.

The views seen from the highest elevations of the desert are stunning to behold. If you're feeling particularly fit, why not hike to the pinnacle of the sand dunes and enjoy your picnic lunch with the brilliant Arizona landscape spread out before you?

Eagletail Mountains Wilderness Area

Nearby Eagletail Mountains Wilderness Area offers families a new place to explore during their visit to East Cactus Plain Wilderness. This property consists of 97,880 acres of property and is also a BLM-managed public facility.
There are many different recreational activities available at this popular park, including hiking, picnicking, wildlife viewing, and more. For those who enjoy the true wilderness experience, Eagletail Mountains Wilderness Area will not disappoint. Many species of wildlife are found on the grounds, including raptors, great horned owls, and coyotes.
Eagletail Mountains Wilderness Area is an excellent spot for backpacking and primitive-style camping as well. Though there are no formally designated trails on the grounds, horseback riding is permitted on the premises.

Harquahala Peak Smithsonian Observatory

For those who enjoy learning more about the stars, a trip to Harquahala Peak Smithsonian Observatory will not disappoint. The facility was constructed by the Smithsonian Institute in 1920. Its primary purpose was to provide an accurate record of solar events in the region.

Today, the building has fallen into disuse. From 1920-1925, the observatory was a hotbed of activity for a group of scientists who resided in the region on a mountain with an elevation of 5,681 feet in total. Their story of survival in such harsh conditions is as interesting as the work they sought to do.

During a visit to this observatory, you will want to keep an eye out for snakes and other venomous animals that dwell within the desert. There are also pieces of equipment and other remnants from generations of prospecting and mining in years gone by that are best left untouched for your safety.

When thunderstorms occur at the observatory, they can be quite treacherous. It is best to leave the premises should the weather threaten a storm.

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