The second largest canyon to emerge from Arizona's Red Rock Country is a lesser known but just as scenic cousin of famous Oak Creek Canyon. But you won't find any roads, developed campgrounds or crowds in Sycamore Canyon, just 55,937 acres of wilderness marked by colorful cliffs, soaring pinnacles and one of the world's rarest habitats, a desert riparian area. The wilderness encompasses all of Sycamore Canyon from its forested rim near Williams, Arizona to its desert canyon mouth in the Verde Valley. This area is home to black bear and mountain lion as well as a number of less celebrated but just as notable creatures.
At night, in the flicker of your dying fire, you may catch a glimpse of a notorious camp robber, the bandit-masked ringtail cat making off with a bit of tomorrow's lunch. Recently these wide-eyed relatives of the raccoon were designated Arizona's State animal in a poll of the state's school children. More likely you'll notice canyon wrens and hermit thrushes along the trail during the day. They'll catch your ear as well as your eye. If you hike to Taylor Cabin you'll see the picturesque lair of another of the canyon's historic residents, the American cowboy. The Parsons Spring Trail meanders up a fertile desert riparian area, a habitat as rare as it is productive. The Sycamore Rim Trail skirts the canyon's upper reaches through an area of secluded pools and tall forests.
This area is sufficiently unique to have been the first in Arizona to be designated a Primitive Area. It later became a Wilderness Area in the 1984 Arizona Wilderness Act. A number of trails provide access to its beautiful and fragile landscape. This guide mentions only the most prominent. Those who wish to explore further will find much to reward their efforts.
Attractions: Wilderness solitude, Trails for hiking and horseback riding, Red rocks, pinnacles, buttes and arches, Photography & wildlife viewing, Swimming and Fishing, History (Indian ruins, old cabins)
At a Glance
||Sedona, AZ and Flagstaff, AZ
||Red Rock District - 928-203-2900
Location: About 40 southwest of Flagstaff by roads that start paved and get progressively rougher.
Access: You may get to this area from a number of highways and Forest Service roads. Major access points are off Route 66/FR 231, U.S. 89A, and FR's 152, 152D, 152C, 525, 538E, 538G and 538H.
Click map graphic for PRINTABLE view.
No motorized or mechanized vehicles permitted in the Wilderness including mountain bikes.
This area can be quite hot and dry in summer. Perennial water is limited to the lower reaches of the stream.
Please follow proper cultural resources etiquette. Do not deface ruins or remove artifacts.
Camping is not permitted from the Packard Ranch to one half mile past Parson's Spring.
Trails in the Wilderness
Sycamore Canyon Wilderness actually straddles the borders of the Coconino, Kaibab and Prescott National Forests. Trails in Sycamore Canyon are managed by the Flagstaff and Red Rock Districts of the Coconino NF and by the Kaibab NF.
See the list of Wilderness Areas on the Red Rock Ranger District
See the list of Wilderness Areas on the Flagstaff Ranger District
The Wilderness Institute (a non-Forest Service site)
The Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Map is available from Coconino National Forest offices or by phone (928-527-3600) using Visa, MasterCard or Discover Card.