Signal Mountain Wilderness is in the desert of Arizona, not far from Phoenix or Gila Bend. With over 13,000 acres to explore, this BLM property includes volcanic peaks, arroyos, and canyons which all make a rugged and steep ridgeline. The namesake of this wilderness area, Signal Mountain, has elevations that range from 1,200 feet to nearly 2,200 feet. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are necessary to navigate the rough, unmaintained dirt roads leading to the wilderness.
The best time to visit the wilderness area is between October and April. This is not only due to hot summer temperatures, but also heavy rainfall during monsoon season and the subsequent flash flooding. Regardless of the time of year, visitors should plan for dry, sunny conditions with little to no shade. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and layers of clothing for fluctuating temperatures.
Signal Mountain is often visited by climbers with many climbing routes in the canyon and valleys. While there aren’t any marked trails, hikers will enjoy exploring the arroyos and may even want to head up to a higher location to take in the surrounding scenery. Many types of wildlife thrive in the desert environment throughout the year. Mule deer, bighorn sheep, and quail attract hunters each fall and those wanting to view wildlife year-round!
Signal Mountain Wilderness is only about 35 miles southwest of Phoenix. The easiest and most commonly used route to reach the wilderness is to take Old U.S. Highway 80 and Agua Caliente Road. The highway is paved and Agua Caliente Road is an improved dirt road that any vehicle should be able to navigate. From there, the dirt roads are rough and unmaintained. High clearance vehicles are required and four-wheel-drive is strongly encouraged. These roads are unsuitable to travel on for most RVs. Information regarding road conditions can be found by contacting the BLM office.
Signal Mountain Wilderness is adjacent to Woolsey Peak Wilderness. An unmaintained dirt road connects the two wilderness areas for visitors to travel to and from each. This road requires four-wheel-drive. Some land surrounding the wilderness is privately owned. Be respectful of private property during your visit. Visitors can park alongside the boundary roads and hike-in as there are no designated parking areas or trailheads. Make sure you pull far enough off the boundary road to allow for other vehicles to pass by.
The wilderness boundary roads are not suitable for most RVs. RVers will instead want to set up camp at one of the camping options nearby. The Gila Bend KOA Journey is a modern option for RVers with many comforts. It is just over 40 miles away from Signal Mountain Wilderness. The KOA is also nearby other attractions that are worthy of road trip itineraries such as the Sonoran Desert National Monument and many OHV trails.
RVs of any size should have no trouble maneuvering into the spacious sites which can easily accommodate big rigs. Once settled in at your site, take a swim in the pool which is open year-round. Visitors with dogs can take their pup to the fenced dog park to play fetch or let them run. The playground is inviting to kids and the firepit nearby is enjoyed by all ages. Additional comforts of the Gila Bend KOA include hot showers and laundry facilities. Reservations are encouraged, especially during the peak season.
Rock climbing is one of the most popular activities at Signal Mountain Wilderness. It attracts climbers of all skill levels. There are several rock-climbing routes in the canyons and valleys around Signal Mountain with many cracks and crevices.
At higher elevations, there are many peaks and ridges to be explored. The climbing routes range in difficulty but climbers should have no trouble finding a fit for their skill level.
While climbing is popular at Signal Mountain, much of the wilderness can also be explored on foot. There aren’t any designated trails, but it’s easy to find scenic spots. Hike to higher elevations to see the views of the surrounding area and landscape.
At lower elevations, explore the canyons and arroyos. Observe the desert vegetation and keep a keen eye out for bighorn sheep or a desert tortoise. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen. The wilderness is very open with no shade.
Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy watching desert wildlife during a visit to the wilderness. Bighorn sheep and mule deer roam in the lower elevations of Signal Mountain. Desert tortoises are often seen among the desert brush or crawling across the terrain.
Birdwatchers will not be disappointed. A variety of raptors are known to frequent the wilderness such as hawks and golden eagles. While wildlife is fun to watch, don’t touch or approach any animals for your safety and theirs.
Once the fall season begins, hunters begin coming to Signal Mountain Wilderness. Mule deer and quail hunting are popular within the wilderness area. Mule deer and quail are most often found in the lower elevations of Signal Mountain. Some hunters instead seek desert bighorn sheep.
The wilderness is located in hunting unit 39. While hunting is permitted on this BLM property, regulations are enforced by the state of Arizona.
Signal Mountain Wilderness is one of the many properties managed by the Bureau of Land Management where rock collecting is permitted. Rock collecting is only allowed for personal use and any findings should not be sold or bartered.
Many treasures may be found throughout this desert wilderness such as petrified wood and agate. You’ll want to keep a close eye out while exploring so you don’t miss any of these stones!
When heading to Signal Mountain Wilderness, you’ll want to bring your camera or make sure your phone is charged to capture the landscape. The wilderness has many unique photo opportunities for both the amateur and the professional.
The colorful desert sunrises and sunsets are certainly a sight to see and snap a photo of over the rugged and steep mountainous ridgeline. While hiking or rock collecting, the desert vegetation and wildlife serve as great photo subjects or backdrops.