The Tres Alamos Wilderness is an eight-thousand acre BLM property in Yavapai County, Arizona. The isolated wilderness incorporates part of the Blacks Mountain Range including the range's highest peak, Sawyer Peak, which towers over the surrounding landscape to a height of four-thousand two-hundred and forty feet. The multi-colored monolith is the most outstanding feature in these BLM lands that are bordered to the west by the Alamo Lake State Park and to the far east by the Prescott National Forest. Around the distinctive peak there are sweeping bajadas dotted with creosote bushes and Joshua trees as well as extensive washes where palo verde and mesquite trees grow.
The Tres Alamos Wilderness is a place to head to if you enjoy backcountry hiking over desert terrains, are a fan of reptiles or want to spend a night or two star-gazing in an environment free of light pollution. While activities in the wilderness are limited to hiking, horse riding, and dispersed tent camping, there's no shortage of things to do outside of the wilderness boundaries. At Alamo Lake, you can go fishing, boating, and swimming or head out onto the many off-roading trails around the state park with your off-road vehicle. In nearby Wickenburg, you can browse Western art while discovering what life was like in the Old West at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum or view the most unusual tree in the state of Arizona.
Vehicle access inside the boundaries of the Tres Alamos Wilderness is strictly prohibited and camping is limited to tent camping only. The nearest option for RV camping at the Tres Alamos Wilderness is in the Alamo Lake State Park from where it's about a thirty-mile drive across country to reach the wilderness border.
Both the Tres Alamos Wilderness and the Lake Alamo State Park are located in a remote area away from any major urbanization. A paved road leads to the state park, but to reach the wilderness, you'll need a four by four or at minimum, a strong vehicle with high ground clearance. If you're camping out in the state park you can reach the wilderness via the Wickenburg Road which is a drive that will take approximately an hour.
If you're going there after camping out in the Sonoran Desert National Monument, head to Phoenix from where you can join the US 60 in the direction of Wickenburg. Once at the town, you'll be able to continue on the US 60 westbound toward Wenden along which you'll find the signposts for the asphalted road to the park. If you're heading south after RV camping in the Lake Havasu State Park on the Colorado River, expect to be on the road for around two and a half hours before you're once again pitching up camp.
The campground of the Alamo Lake State Park is the closest campground for RVs to the Tres Alamos Wilderness. In the park there are six different loops to the campground distributed along the shores of the lake. The loops don't have names but are distinguished by letters of the alphabet. The campground is open twelve months of the year and while reservations are not strictly necessary, they can be made prior to arrival online via the Arizona State Parks website or by telephoning the Arizona State Parks Reservation service.
Campground A provides campers with a choice of seventeen economical standard pitches that are either back-in or pull-through. Campground B is larger and has over forty campsites some with utility hook-ups and others without. Prices vary according to the amenities provided at each pitch.
Campground C provides forty campsites with both water and electricity hook-ups at all. The sites lettered D and E are dry-camping only while F has twenty-five pitches with full hook-ups.
The only on-site amenities at all of the campgrounds are pit or vault toilets, a visitor center, and a store. All vehicles entering the park are liable for a vehicle entrance fee.
Hiking in the Tres Alamos Wilderness is backcountry style only and something the savvy rangers recommend you do only from October to April, when the desert temperatures are more agreeable. When you do go, make sure to carry a decent supply of water as there is none in the wilderness.
There are no defined trails either, but you may come across a few old vehicle tracks that existed before the area was designated a wilderness or some pathways trampled by the hooves of wild burros which will make your outback trek a little easier.
If the aridness of the Tres Alamos Wilderness leaves you hankering to float your boat and spend some time on the water, you can do just that at Lake Alamo. There are three boat ramps at the lake, one of which is used only when there are high water levels.
All that's required before launching your craft is that it's correctly licensed and complies with the Arizona Game and Fish watercraft regulations.
Wickenburg is home to one of the strangest trees in the state of Arizona – a jail tree. While jail trees were common around a hundred or more years ago, they are now part of history.
In Wickenburg, this unusual historical monument is a two centuries old mesquite tree that was fitted with chains to prevent prisoners from escaping. While it may have a slightly sinister background, now it's a fun place to snap a couple of souvenir photos with a mannequin prisoner who is going nowhere.
If you're pulling a trailer behind your rig with your OHV loaded on it, you'll be pleased to know there are endless off-roading trails outside the borders of the Lake Alamo State Park.
Many of the trailheads are just outside of the campgrounds. Whether your preferred ride is a quad bike, dirt bike or dune buggy, you'll definitely be in your element racing over the desert tracks. Don't forget to take an extra can of fuel with as the nearest gas station is a six mile drive away.
If after exploring the Tres Alamos Wilderness, you've worked up an appetite and fancy grilling up some fresh fish, you can catch your own by casting your hook in the waters of Alamo Lake. The three and a half thousand acre lake contains a good population of large and smallmouth bass, crappie, sunfish and bluegill.
Fishing in winter is slower than in spring and summer. The park rangers request that catch and release is practiced during the bass spawning season to help maintain stocks for the future.
Make the short trip into Wickenburg to take a look around the Desert Caballeros Western Museum. The museum offers a fascinating insight into life in the Old West through various mediums and hands-on exhibitions. The museum's collections also include a Victorian home and ranch which are outside of the main building. Ninety-minute guided tours with a volunteer guide can be organized two weeks in advance via the museum's website.