New Water Mountains Wilderness
Guide

Introduction

Featuring towering canyons, sparse vegetation, and a large volcanic butte, New Water Mountains Wilderness is the place to be for RV lovers in Arizona who are seeking solitude. Located near the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, New Water Mountains Wilderness is perfect for the adventurous type who is looking for free RV camping on BLM land. If you choose to visit the area you will be away from any developed facilities, so you will need to be prepared for surviving life off the grid.

The terrain inside New Water Mountains Wilderness is mostly that seen in Sonoran Desert areas, but the main attraction in the area (known as Black Mesa) is around 1,200 feet above the rest of the wilderness and features prickly desert chaparral. The average rainfall within the New Water Mountains Wilderness is less than five inches, so it is vital you bring plenty of water to this area as none will be available.

Visitors to the area are few and far between, but those who do trek out there will have the chance to do some great hiking thanks to the abandoned mine roads that are now excellent trails waiting for you to explore. Other popular activities include photographing Black Mesa, wildlife viewing, and hunting.

For RV campers who are seeking more amenities, you should consider heading to Picacho State Recreation Area, the Salome KOA, or one of the many private RV parks in Quartzsite or along the US-60. New Water Mountains Wilderness is open all year round.

RV Rentals in New Water Mountains Wilderness

Transportation

Driving

Located to the north of Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, getting to and from can be a little tricky since all of the roads that lead to the wilderness area are unpaved. As previously mentioned, you will have to haul in any supplies that you will need during your visit, so if you need to visit any shops before your adventure you should do so on your way there. Some of the places that you can stop include Salome (around 22 miles away), Wenden (around 27 miles away), and Quartzsite (around 33 miles away). The closest city to the park is Blythe, which is around 55 miles to the west.

The most common way for larger vehicles such as RVs to obtain access is to take Gold Nugget Road, which you can find off exit 26 from the I-10. Although this road is still unsealed it is made of a mixture containing compacted gravel and dirt. The other roads that lead to the wilderness area can be difficult to see and are best avoided so that you don't get bogged down in the desert sand.

Parking

You are welcome to park on any areas off the roadside at New Water Mountains Wilderness but motor vehicles aren't allowed in the wilderness areas that remain undisturbed.

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in New Water Mountains Wilderness

Campsites in New Water Mountains Wilderness

Reservations camping

Salome KOA

Another great option for RV friendly camping near New Water Mountains Wilderness is to head to the city of Salome and stay at the Salome KOA. This is a very well maintained KOA campground that is known for its very large and flat sites, quiet atmosphere, and plenty of additional perks. RVs up to 60 feet in length will be able to stay here and pets are also allowed.

Salome KOA has a variety of sites available for you to call home, with a total of 127 being available to stay at. Some of these include full hookups so you have the option to live a little more luxurious. Some of the great amenities in the campground include a swimming pool, mini-golf course, laundry facilities, WiFi connectivity, hot tub, showers, water collection points, and even ATV trails!

Salome KOA is open all year round and we recommend booking a reservation prior to your arrival since it is a popular place for visitors to stay.

First-come first-served

Picacho State Recreation Area

The closest developed public campground to New Water Mountains Wilderness is within the Picacho State Recreation Area. Located right on the Arizona and Californian border, Picacho State Recreation Area has one campground that is suitable for RVs to enjoy throughout the year. The campground is known to be private and spacious and is near the Colorado River.

Here you will find a total of 54 sites that are all primitive, so there are no hookups available. Despite this, the campground still has plenty of great amenities, including a picnic table and fire ring at each site, with some even having a shade pavilion to help you escape the hot summer heat. Other campground-specific amenities are a sanitation station, solar shower, and water collection points.

All of the sites within the campground are only available on a first-come, first-served basis, so you will have to arrive early in the day if you want to try and guarantee a site to call home.

Alternate camping

Private Campgrounds Near New Water Mountains Wilderness

You can go dry-camping on the lands near the roads in New Water Mountains Wilderness thanks to the park being managed by the BLM. This means that camping is free since it will be on BLM lands, which is a huge plus!
While for most people the appeal of getting away from it all is the main factor in choosing to visit the New Water Mountains Wilderness, there are private campgrounds nearby if you want to stay in a more developed area.
Private RV parks offer short and long term sites in Quartzsite and Salome that have varying amenities, but before you book, remember to check to see if your rig will fit into the sites that are on offer.

Seasonal activities in New Water Mountains Wilderness

In-Season

Hiking

Make sure you pack your hiking boots when visiting the New Water Mountains Wilderness, because there are plenty of easily accessible areas for you to explore. The main hiking trails inside the wilderness are former mining roads that have since been blocked off, so you will have clear and easy paths to follow.

If you are feeling a little more adventurous, you can also follow the trails made by sheep if you want to access the high-elevated areas.

Photography

The wild terrain within New Water Mountains Wilderness provides the perfect environment for visitors who are into photography. The most popular place to snap some pictures of is Black Mesa due to it being the highest point and having an interesting shape.

There will also be plenty of mountain ranges that will make for great landscape photos, and if you're lucky you might even get the chance to see some of the local bighorn sheep going about their day.

Stargazing

On clear nights, this desert wilderness area is perfect for looking up and viewing the impressive night sky. While there are no telescopes within the wilderness area, you will be able to see thousands of stars thanks to the lack of light pollution that is common with wilderness this remote.

You will be able to spot many constellations (and even shooting stars if you are lucky) during your stargazing adventures. Try taking some pictures of the incredible sky as a memento of your trip.

Off-Season

Rock Collecting

An interesting activity that is popular in both the New Water Mountains Wilderness and the nearby Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is rock collecting. In designated areas, Rock Collecting is permitted up to 10 pounds or 10 mineral specimens over a period of 12 months. If you are interested in collecting rocks you are not allowed to use any tools (such as hand tools, metal collectors, or other digging products) as rocks can only be taken if they are found on the surface.

Hunting

For those interested in hunting during your visit to New Water Mountains Wilderness, you will be pleased to note that hunting is permitted within the area during the specific Arizona-wide seasons. Hunting is allowed for many animals that call the area home, such as deer, bighorn sheep, rabbit, coyote, and fox.

You can also go hunting in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, but you will need state licenses and specific deer permits if you wish to take part.

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center

While there is no visitor center within the New Water Mountains Wilderness, we recommend heading to the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge if you want to speak to staff and learn more about the area. Located to the south of the wilderness, the visitor center features plenty of helpful information about the surrounding areas and staff will be able to answer any questions that you may have. The visitor center is open Monday through Friday except on federal holidays.