Set within the heart of the Hieroglyphic Mountains of north-central Arizona, Hells Canyon Wilderness is a beautiful wilderness area with open spaces and amazing spots for dry camping and memorable recreational activities. Located east of Wickenburg in Arizona, this 15 square mile Bureau of Land Management property can only be accessed by the public from the western side off US Highway 60 and some local roads. The use of vehicles within the wilderness areas is not allowed.
Free camping opportunities are open to visitors and campers who wish to go primitive. If, however, you wish to enjoy camping within a developed campsite with modern facilities, Tonto National Forest nearby has numerous camping opportunities.
Activities at Hells Canyon Wilderness range from nature observation to hiking, sightseeing, and mountain climbing. The nearby Lake Pleasant is also a popular destination for water-based recreation, including fishing, scuba diving, boating, kayaking, and many more. The beautiful stars overhead the area are also beautiful to see at night. Additional recreation is available at Hassayampa River Canyon Wilderness.
Hells Canyons Wilderness is located east of Wickenburg, Arizona and can only be accessed by the public from the western side because the northern, southern, and eastern sides of the park are located on private lands. So, if you’re driving to this BLM wilderness from Phoenix, New River, or Prescott, your main access point is via Wickenburg, off Highway 60. Local roads such as Cedar Basin Road also grant access to the park. It is important to note that the Cedar Basin Road is rough and is best negotiated in a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Within the wilderness areas, the use of motorized vehicles and equipment is prohibited to ensure the preservation of the park areas, so look out for signs and posts that indicate where the boundaries of the wilderness are.
There are no direct public transportation services to this BLM property. If you require the use of recreational vehicles and trailers nearby, you’ll find rental services at Tonto National Forest and Prescott National Forest.
Parking spaces are available around this BLM park for visitors and campers to park their vehicles outside the wilderness boundaries.
Tonto National Forest is a popular year-round destination for all kinds of camping activities, ranging from dispersed camping to group and RV camping. There is more than enough room for primitive, tent and vehicle camping in this national forest, which is the fifth-largest forest in the US. Sixty-two campgrounds are available in the park.
Recreational opportunities include nature observation, biking, fishing, boating, and horseback riding. The mountains in the park also present climbing and hiking opportunities. The use of off-highway vehicles is permitted. Modern camping amenities and facilities are available.
Reservations are accepted for campsites within the campgrounds in the park. First-come, first-come sites are also available. If you plan to go primitive, you’re also welcome.
Owing to the situation of the park within the Hieroglyphic Mountain Range, Hells Canyon Wilderness is a place where visitors always enjoy mountain climbing activities. As the wilderness is home to numerous peaks that rise from about 1,900 feet to 3,600 feet, abundant opportunities are available for you to test yourself as you hike up the mountains.
The two most prominent peaks in the wilderness that you will definitely want to climb are the Garfias Mountain (3,381 feet) and Hellgate Mountain (3,339 feet).
Nature lovers are welcome to Hells Canyon Wilderness as the park features plants, trees, and wildlife that are beautiful to behold. Most of the land in this BLM property is covered by flora characteristic of Sonoran Desert Vegetation, so that enthusiasts often come across paloverde, saguaro, ocotillo, barrel cactus, and desert grasses.
Wildlife within the park includes mountain lions, javelina, bobcats, rattlesnakes, and non-venomous snakes. The venomous Gila monster is also present in the park.
A lot of opportunities to enjoy casual strolls are available at Hells Canyon Wilderness. The canyon bottoms serve as the best place to go if you want to have it easy. The Castle Creek Trailhead in the wilderness grants access to two trails - Hermit Trail and Spring Valley Trail, each offering unique hiking experiences to visitors in this BLM wilderness. Spring Valley takes hikers through a scenic saguaro forest where wild burros are often seen.
Visitors and campers at Hells Canyon Wilderness can take a short trip down south to Lake Pleasant for the scuba diving opportunities that are present on the lake. Lake Pleasant is well-known as having some of the best inland scuba diving in US western states.
The presence of canyons, rock walls, and underwater structures in the lake ensure that scuba divers always find something new to explore in the lake. Divers can get as deep as 260 feet in the lake.
Scenic overlooks within Hells Canyon Wilderness provide the chance for sightseers to enjoy spectacular views of Lake Pleasant to the east as well as rugged mountaintops within the Hieroglyphic Mountains. Visiting the park in fall and winter offers the chance to see the blooming desert wildflower, desert globemallow, owl’s clover, and Mexican gold poppies. All these beautiful sights make this BLM park a paradise for nature lovers and photographers. So carry your camera along when visiting the park.
Stargazing is commonly enjoyed by guests who visit Lake Pleasant. This is because the lake’s serenity nicely combines with the quiet desert landscape and beautiful Arizona skies, making the lakeshore an ideal place to spend the evening.
Telescopes are made available for guests that want to really delve into the nitty-gritty about moons, planets, and deep space between objects in the sky. If you want to enjoy the activity, come along with your snacks and chairs.