Sitting on one of the largest desert ranges in western Arizona, Harquahala Mountains Wilderness, named for its abundant perennial springs and seeps, is a 36 square mile Bureau of Land Management property available to visitors for primitive camping adventures. This wilderness, which features mountain ranges rising from 2,100 feet to about 5,700 feet, presents guests with a host of recreational and sightseeing opportunities.
As you explore the park’s areas, you’ll find diverse plant ecosystems and wildlife species that will tempt you to take photographs. If you fancy hiking, there are plenty of spaces and opportunities to move around the wilderness or hike to the top of Harquahala Peak. Horseback riders also have the chance to ride along the Harquahala park trail. For those seeking solitude and seclusion, the rugged topography in the park, as well as the sheltered Brown’s Canyon, present great spots for such. Plenty of nearby attractions are also available around Harquahala Mountains, including Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Sunset Pass, Alamo Lake, and Alamo Lake State Park.
Dispersed and dry camping is popular among guests in this wilderness. Developed/vehicle camping opportunities are available at Prescott National Forest.
In the language of an early native tribe, Harquahala translates to “running water high up.”
Harquahala Mountains Wilderness is located 80 miles northwest of Phoenix, Arizona within Maricopa and La Paz counties. Local roads branch off the highways that lead to the park. This BLM wilderness is accessible via State Route 60 which grants visitors and campers easy access to the northern boundary of the park. Eagle Eye Road, also paved, leads to the southern areas of the BLM park. Access to Harquahala Peak, the highest point in the park, is via the Harquahala Back Country Byway, a steep and narrow road that runs for a little over ten miles and is suitable for only high-clearance and four-wheel drive vehicles.
Even though there are parts of the park accessible by vehicles, the wilderness areas are not open to the use of motorized vehicles. So, look out for signs and posts that indicate wilderness boundary points.
Parking spaces are available for vehicles at Harquahala Mountains Wilderness at the trailhead that leads to the mountain peak.
RV rental services are available northeast of the park at Prescott National Forest, however, there are no direct transportation services to Harquahala Mountains Wilderness.
Lower Wolf Creek Campground is a pet-friendly campground within Prescott National Forest on the banks of Wolf Creek. This campground, open between May and October, is a beautiful spot that features live-oaks and Arizona walnut interspersed with ponderosa pines.
At this campground, there are 20 campsites, all equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, and grills, as well as garbage service and vault toilets. The campground accommodates RVs and trailers up to 40 feet, but there are no hookups available.
All the campsites are available on first-come, first-served basis only and maximum stay is 14 days in a 30-day period. Quiet hours are from 10 pm to 6 am.
Harquahala Peak, which is the highest point in Harquahala Mountains Wilderness and the entirety of southwest Arizona, is a remarkable spot to visit at this BLM land in Arizona. Visitors who make the trip to the top of this peak enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the deserts and mountain ranges that surround the park.
The hike to the peak is also a challenging task in itself, so you need to prepare yourself adequately for it. What’s more, there’s a screened interior canyon system within the mountain ranges.
Harquahala Mountains Wilderness has beautiful and distinctive flora and fauna ecosystems that provide a blend of natural diversity that attracts nature lovers and observers. From a relict “island” of interior chaparral, to rare cactus populations and desert grasslands, the vegetation within the park is nicely varied.
In addition, the various park areas serve as home to wildlife such as mountain lions, desert bighorn sheep, mule deer populations, and reptiles such as Gila monster and venomous snakes.
The Smithsonian Institute built an observatory on Harquahala Peak back in the early part of the twentieth century. This structure still stands today and offers good viewing and exploration opportunities for hikers at the park.
The Institute also made a trail that leads to the observatory from the foot of the mountain for draft animals to haul supplies up. Nowadays, hikers at the park take advantage of the 5.4-mile one-way obscure trail, the Harquahala Peak Trail, that leads to the peak for their recreational pursuits. Rock piles mark the trail path and a large parking area is available at the trailhead.
Wildlife enthusiasts at Harquahala Mountains Wilderness never fail to visit Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, a refuge that lies a few miles southwest of the park off Highway 60. This wildlife refuge, established in 1939, is dedicated to the protection of desert bighorn sheep and a host of other wildlife native to the area.
Plenty of wildlife-dependent activities are available in the refuge, including wildlife watching, photography, as well as hunting and hiking. The refuge is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
One of the fascinating areas around Harquahala Mountains Wilderness is West Fork Sunset Canyon, one of the valleys in Yuma County. This valley is popular among sightseers and nature lovers that visit this BLM property because it is a place where visitors can enjoy unparalleled scenic views of sunset and sunrise. The landscapes within the canyon also provide great backgrounds for photographs, as well as nice spots to relax under the shade away from the sun.
Sunset Pass is a 3,884-foot pass that lies between Harquahala Mountain to the west, and Hill 5026 ridgeline to the east. This pass features jeep trails that run more than three miles at either end as well as six miles of hiking trails within it.
If you’re going to explore this pass, get ready for a challenging hiking adventure because of elevation gains along the trail. It’s best to have your water and necessary gear with you as you make your way through. Your camera will also come in handy too.