Wabayuma Peak Wilderness might seem miles away from areas of population, yet strangely you won’t feel alone in this 40,000-acre BLM managed land. Saguaro cacti surround you as if on guard and miles of wilderness area stretches out all around, just waiting to be explored.
Twenty miles southeast of Kingman, Arizona, Wabayuma Peak Wilderness is nothing like our preconceived notions of desert environments. Located at the meeting point of the Sonoran and the Mojave Desert, this wilderness enjoys all the benefits of a unique ecological zone. There are hillsides, Joshua Trees, and dominating the wilderness is the 7,601 foot-tall Wabayuma Peak.
The unique name of the peak and the wilderness itself is actually an ode to Chief Wauba Yuma of the Hualapai Indians. The chief whose name is given to the wilderness and its highpoint was shot and killed by a Prescott fireman, Sam Miller, as retaliation and broke the delicate treaties that led to more war.
The geology of the wilderness is just as interesting as its history. Wabayuma Peak might grab all the attention, but it is complemented by a series of humongous ridges that begin from the peak and extend outwards like a semicircle towards the north, south, and west of this wilderness region, creating quite a view from the top.
The vegetation in the desert is diverse, ranging as it goes from high elevation to low. Expect to see a mixture of Sonoran and Mojave vegetation as well as Arizona chaparral vegetation and ponderosa pine.
The massive and rough plain of the wilderness promises lots of recreational opportunities such as hiking, backpacking, exploring, and overnight camping.
When making your trip to the Wabayuma Peak Wilderness, we strongly suggest you make it in a high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle, regardless of the access route you choose.
The best route is from the town of Kingman in western Arizona. Drive west on 1-40 for nearly 23 miles to the Yucca/Alamo Road exit. Be careful on the 1-40 as motorists speed along here. On the Alamo Road, follow the signs for about three miles before turning left onto Boriana Mine Road. Ten more miles and you’ll find yourself driving along the western boundary of the wilderness on your left. Another five miles and you are on the trailhead to Wabayuma Peak.
The Bureau of Land Management allows people to engage in primitive camping in the wilderness. You can choose any spot you want to settle for the night, though it is highly encouraged that you choose a previously disturbed campsite. You can set camp for 14 days at a stretch.
The group size limit on one campsite is 10 people and no more. Be prepared for summer temperatures which tend to get really hot. Pets are allowed as long as they are leashed and in control of their owners.
Those who wish to stay at a slightly more equipped campsite can make the two-hour drive to the nearest campground of Upper Burro Creek Wilderness. Burro Creek Campground is a BLM operated campground with 30 campsites lined up along Burro Creek.
All the campsites are on a paved road and offer beautiful scenery. There aren’t any hookups available but there are flush toilets, a dump station, drinking water, and most sites have picnic tables, sun shelters, grate and fire rings. Tents, trailers, and recreational vehicles of up to 32 feet can be accommodated. If you have an extraordinarily large RV, site # 2 is the one for you.
Wabayuma Peak Wilderness has a large landscape and boasts numerous hiking and equestrian trails. Keep in mind the rugged topography of the wilderness and bring along a high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle to get anywhere near the trailheads.
Some trails are properly marked and maintained while others exist for visitors to discover. The Whiskey Basin Boundary Trail in the Hualapai Mountains and the three-mile-long Wabayuma Peak Trail are two of the most popular hiking trails here.
In order to make the Wabayuma Peak Summit, visitors will need to brave the designated Wabayuma Peak Trail. Properly constructed and marked as a single-track trail, Wabayuma Peak Trail ascends up to 700 feet just ¾ miles into the trail and ends a little south of the summit. From there, you begin your off-trail scramble to summit the peak that requires a 15-foot class four climb. Precaution is needed as this is an extremely remote area with little to no phone signals and can get very hot in the summers.
Both Mojave Desert and the Sonoran Desert are home to many migratory and native birds. Hence, Wabayuma Peak Wilderness often witnesses the sounds and sights of the mourning dove, black-throated sparrow, and Gambel quail amongst many other beautiful and exotic birds. There are no lookout towers here, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled and you might just catch sight of some of the bird species found here.
The dominating Wabayuma Peak and the steep series of huge ridges creating a semi-circle around it provide rich content for photographers to capture. Additionally, all the crags, spires, Sonoran Desert vegetation, pinyon-juniper woodlands, Gambel oak forests, and humongous rock outcroppings add even more charm to this serene landscape and make for some memorable landscape snaps.
Wabayuma Peak Wilderness is located in a unique ecological zone that makes for an interesting mixture of wildlife habitat. Wildlife species common in the wilderness are cottontail rabbit, western whip-tailed lizard, mule deer, black-tailed jackrabbit, western diamondback rattlesnake, gopher snakes, bats, and side-blotched lizard.
When camping, you also won’t be able to miss the coyotes howling and yodeling. Sonoran Desert Tortoise is also found in the washes of lower elevation.
You do not need to be a hiker, horseback rider, hunter, or a rock climber to make a trip to this remote wilderness. As long as you love nature and solitude, you can come here to just soak in the scenery and enjoy some homemade snacks with friends and family. The natural quiet, the greenery, and the view make it a perfect place for a picnic. You can choose any spot you like to lay down your blankets and soak in the views.