Special Places

Mt. Graham

Mt. GrahamMt. Graham (Pinaleno Mountains) is the single-most diverse mountain range in North America, and hosts 11 endemic species that are found nowhere else on Earth.  Visitors can travel the Swift Trail (Highway 366) through eight distinct zones in just a dozen miles, including Sonoran desert, Sonoran grassland, chaparral, pinyon-juniper woodland, Madrean evergreen oak woodland, Ponderosa pine forest, mixed conifer forest, and finally spruce-fir forest at the highest elevations. Campgrounds and picnic areas range from low to high elevations. Many trails are hiker-ready, and Riggs Lake is a beautiful mountain setting for fishing.

Cave Creek Canyon

Cave CreekCave Creek Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains is a hotspot for biodiversity, unique habitats and endangered species. Trails, camping, and picnicking areas are easily accessible. The striking beauty of the lichen-covered, rhyolite canyon walls, the lush streamside riparian areas, and the abundance of wildlife ensure this is a popular destination for visitors.

Highlighted Areas

Pusch Ridge Wilderness

Pusch Ridge Wilderness

Pusch Ridge towers over Tucson and the surrounding desert as one of the most prominent features of the Santa Catalina Mountains. With its lower slopes dotted saguaro cactus and its upper reaches dark Douglas-fir, this unmistakable landmark makes the point that this is a land of extremes in biodiversity as well as topography. Within the 56,933-acre Wilderness, elevations range from 2,800 to 8,800 feet. Deep canyons separated by razorback ridges crease the slopes. From the floor of Sabino Canyon to the upper slopes of Mt. Lemmon, life zones vary from Sonoran desert to subalpine forest. The wildlife community that inhabits such a varied setting is diverse and finds few rivals. An extensive trail network offers opportunities for day to extended trips. While its convenient location makes Pusch Ridge Wilderness easily accessible you can still find solitude and primitive surroundings

Dogs and other pets are not allowed within the Pusch Ridge Wilderness due to a closure to protect Desert Big Horn Sheep.

The Pusch Ridge Wilderness Sheep Closure Area includes trailheads for Ventana Canyon, Finger Rock, Pima Canyon, Linda Vista, and portions of Romero, including Romero Pools, and the Sutherland Trail accessed via Catalina State Park.

Sierra Vista Ranger District

The Sierra Vista Ranger District includes several mountain ranges which are separated by rolling hill county and some of the Southwest’s most extensive grasslands. The area includes the Huachuca, Patagonia and Whetstone mountains and the Canelo Hills. These areas were once the focus of extensive mining activity and their canyons and ridges are rich in the history of those colorful days. An extensive network of trails provides access to the Huachuca Mountains and to the 20,190 acre Miller Peak Wilderness. In Ramsey Canyon, where miners once sluiced, blasted and tunneled for gold and silver, birdwatchers have found a gentler bonanza. A number of scenic drives cross the area;s broad grasslands and anglers find their reward in Parker Canyon Lake, where stocked trout, as well as other species, challenge fishermen.

Miller Peak Wilderness

Miller Peak Wilderness

Named for the highest peak in the Huachuca Mountains, and is the highest and southernmost peak in the United States. This Wilderness encompasses 20,190 acres and was established in 1984. The Miller Peak Wilderness lies between the city of Sierra Vista and the Mexican border in the southern half of the Huachuca Mountains. The Miller Peak Wilderness is a land of sheer cliffs, soaring summits and deep canyons. In these diverse life-zones lives an amazing variety of wildlife including over 170 species of birds (14 species of hummingbirds). Seventy-eight species of mammals have been observed in the Huachuca’s including coatimundi, javelina, black bear and mountain lion. Over 60 species of reptiles also can be found here.  Seventeenth-century Spanish Captain Juan Mateo Manje referred to these mountains in his expedition journal as Sierra de Huachuca, or Huachuca Mountains. The name was most likely taken from a nearby Piman village. Once cloaked in pine and fir, fires have converted much of this area to predominantly oak and grass vegetation with mixed conifer and aspen stands at higher elevations. Many sheer cliffs rise hundreds of feet above the canyon floors. At least 21 trails lead through the Wilderness from its eastern, western, and southern boundaries. The Arizona Trail traverses this wilderness before reaching its southern terminus at the U.S./Mexican border. From the Crest Trail (11.5 miles) one can reach the top of Miller Peak. Throughout the area, visitors may encounter evidence of the region's bygone mining and ranching days. Trails here climb from 5,200 feet to as high as 9,466 feet at the apex of Miller Peak, and offer some of the most dramatic views in the Southwest.

The Huachucas are rich in history. These canyons, cliffs, and forests are littered with the remains of various late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century mining booms that all eventually went bust. Today, the gold rush has been replaced by a recreation rush which is adding a new chapter to the history of the Miller Peak Wilderness.

Santa Teresa Wilderness

More than anything else, the 26,780-acre Santa Teresa Wilderness can be described as remote. Trails exist in many places only as routes kept open by cowboys driving their stock. These mountains are characterized by deep canyons, rocky outcrops and bald summits. Vegetation is predominantly thick chaparral with forests of ponderosa pine occupying high ridges. A stand of Douglas-fir grows on the sheltered north slope of Cottonwood Peak, the highest in the range. The granite cliffs, buttes and ridges of the Santa Teresas lend themselves to the weathering forces of nature in such a way that, in many places, they have been sculpted into strikingly picturesque formations. These natural works of art give the Santa Teresa Wilderness an unmistakable character. Because of this area’s remote nature, it serves as ideal habitat for wildlife species that prefer a high degree of isolation. Among those are black bear and mountain lion. Other desert species, such as mule deer, coatimundi and javelina, can be found here as well. When added to this area’s other notable attributes, the possibility of encountering some of these reclusive residents makes a trip to the Santa Teresa Wilderness well worth the effort.