Mazatzal Wilderness Area

Mazatzal WildernessThe Mazatzal Wilderness contains over 252,500 acres of the Tonto and Coconino national forests. Established in 1940 and expanded to its present size in 1984, its name is from an old Indian culture in Mexico, and is correctly pronounced "Mah-zaht-zahl," meaning "land of the deer."

The eastern side of this wilderness predominantly consists of brush or pine-covered mountains, sometimes broken by narrow, vertical-walled canyons. On its west side below the steep brush-covered foothills, the Verde River flows through the Sonoran Desert. This river was designated by the U.S Congress as Arizona's only Wild River Area in 1984.

Elevations range from 2,060 feet along the Verde River to 7,903 feet on Mazatzal Peak. There is an extensive system of trails: their condition varies from very good to very poor. Several are unsuited for horses.

A Recreation Opportunity Guide (21 pages) is available from the Payson Ranger Station or Cave Creek Ranger Station.

Visit our on-line MAP: North or South to get an overview of the Mazatzal Wilderness and its trails.


Our WILDERNESS FAQs page has answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding Wilderness Areas.

Activities such as prospecting and treasure troving are limited. For more information, go to Other Wilderness Activities.

All of our Wilderness Areas adhere to the LEAVE NO TRACE policy.