Located in Graham County and bordering the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, Fishhooks Wilderness is a rarely visited desert oasis that is perfect for RV adventurers who are looking for a challenge. Officially designated as wilderness in 1990, Fishhooks Wilderness contains 10,500 acres that are available for you to roam in all year round. One of the main attractions to visiting Fishhooks Wilderness is the varying landscapes and environments that the area contains. There are ample canyons, mountains, wide-open deserts, and even a piñon pine forest waiting for you to explore.
The lowest point in Fishhooks Wilderness is around 4,000 feet above sea level, while the highest is at Gila Peak, where the altitude rises to over 6,600 feet. Since there are zero residents, developed areas, or amenities within Fishhooks Wilderness, so you must be prepared for a trip that will be primitive in every way imaginable.
There are many benefits to this isolation, including gorgeous night skies perfect for stargazing, untouched nature areas that are waiting to be photographed, and plenty of wildlife to spot (such as coyotes, black bears, deer, and mountain lions). While there are no marked trails, you can still get plenty of great hiking done during your visit thanks to the varying terrain.
For those interested in parking their RVs and setting up camp free RV camping is available since Fishhooks Wilderness is located on BLM land, so you can boondock here. If you would like to experience some camping near the wilderness with some more amenities, consider visiting Roper Lake State Park in the nearby city of Safford. Fishhooks Wilderness is open all year round.
Getting to and from Fishhooks Wilderness can be a little difficult as the area is not signed too well. The most common way for visitors to enter it is from Hot Springs Road, where you can continue for around 13 miles on a dirt road until you reach the area. When accessing Fishhooks Wilderness, you need to be careful not to accidentally trespass onto the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation since they are located next to each other. If you would like to access the Indian Reservation, you will need written permission and carry it with you at all times.
Since the wilderness is not commonly used, there are no sealed roads within its area. There are a few dirt roads (such as the one used to access the wilderness), but you should be prepared for walk-in visitation to most areas as your RV will not be able to go offroad. You are not allowed to use any motorized vehicles in the wilderness area, such as motorbikes and carts.
There are no designated parking areas within the 10,500-acre wilderness. Parking is recommended in areas of Fishhooks Wilderness that have already been disturbed so you don't unnecessarily damage the environment.
Since Fishhooks Wilderness is so remote with no amenities or services you will have to look outside of the area for developed camping. If you are interested in dry camping though, Fishhooks Wilderness is the perfect place for some free camping on BLM land in Arizona.
If you would like the comfort of a developed campground we recommend staying at the Cottonwood Campground in Roper Lake State Park. Located around 30 miles from Fishhooks Wilderness, the Cottonwood Campground features 25 RV-friendly sites that can accommodate RVs that are 45 feet or smaller. Each site has a fire ring, picnic table, and a small shaded area that is great for escaping the Arizona heat. All of the sites within the campground come equipped with 20/30/50 amp electrical hookups and they also have water hookups for you to enjoy.
Cottonwood Campground is open all year round and reservations can be made in advance through the Arizona State Parks website.
If you are interested in some RV camping at a slightly smaller campground you will be able to do so at the Hacienda Campground in Roper Lake State Park.
The Hacienda Campground features 20 RV accessible sites in a loop that is located near Roper Lake. The sites are a mixture between back-in and pull-through sites that come with a picnic table and fire ring available for you to enjoy, but there are no shade ramadas like at Cottonwood. You will also have the choice between 20/30 amp electrical hookups at each site. Like the Cottonwood campground, RVs up to 45 feet will be able to enjoy the peace and quiet that is on offer at this lakeside destination. Other amenities within the campground include hot showers, restrooms, water collection points, and a dump station.
Pets are allowed within the campground and you can also get cell phone service on all of the major networks. Reservations can be made online all year round.
For RV lovers wanting to stay at a private campground, there is an RV resort located in the city of Safford that you could consider. The resort is known as one of the newest in southeast Arizona and features some fantastic mountain views and stunning sunrises and sunsets.
There are 98 different sites for guests to choose from, making it the largest developed camping option in the area. All of the sites available are back-in and feature electrical hookups in the 20/30/50 amp variety. There are also some extra amenities at the RV resort not found in the campgrounds at Roper Lake State Park, such as free WiFi, cable TV, laundry facilities, a swimming pool, and spa. Pets are also allowed and you will be able to get cell phone reception on all of the major networks.
This RV resort is open all year round and reservations can be made by calling the park office.
Although there are no marked trails within Fishhooks Wilderness, you will still have plenty of chances to explore the area if you want to do some off-trail hiking. There are near-unlimited hiking opportunities that range from flat terrain to challenging mountain peaks.
If you do plan on doing any form of hiking or walking, make sure you are adequately prepared with enough water, and we also recommend you explore with a partner and let others know of your whereabouts.
Once the cooler months start to roll in, a great way to enjoy the outdoor surroundings in the Fishhooks Wilderness is to pack a blanket and do some picnicking. There are plenty of beautiful locations for you to check out within the area depending on what views you would like to see.
You could picnic by the forest, near one of the many canyons, or even at the base of Gila Peak. You will need to walk-in all of your supplies if you go picknicking as there are none within close proximity to Fishhooks Wilderness.
If you are looking for something a little different outside of the wilderness, Graham County is home to many different hot springs that you can enjoy. Hot springs are a great way to relax and rest your body.
Used most commonly during the winter months, the hot springs specifically at Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area and Roper Lake State Park will be the best way to unwind after adventuring in the wilderness. There are no extra fees for use of the hot springs, so pack your swimsuit and give them a try!
Remember to pack your camera when visiting Fishhooks Wilderness as it is a nature photographers dream, thanks to the many different environments that you will have the chance to shoot. The sunrises and sunsets out here will be amazing, and if you are lucky, you will also get the chance to snap some pictures of local animals going about their day. Charge all of your batteries before you start shooting as there will be no place to charge them within the wilderness.
Since there are over 10,000 acres of untouched land at Fishhooks Wilderness, there is a good chance that you will be able to do some naturing viewing during your visit. The forest features most of the larger animals that call the area home (such as deer, bears, and elk), but you may also get to see mountain lions at dusk or dawn. If you do see any animals during your visit, remember to keep clear and let them go about their day in peace.
If you are interested in the skies above, you will be very happy that you chose to visit Fishhooks Wilderness. The night skies within the area will be lit up like a Christmas tree, with various stars and constellations being visible throughout the year.
If you are looking to learn more about the stars and planets, visit Discovery Park in Safford. Here you will be able to use a reflector telescope and learn more from the knowledgeable staff about stargazing.