Special Places

For those who want to get away from the rigors of modern society, we offer seven Wilderness Areas estimating to nearly 600,000 acres. The areas are managed to ensure public enjoyment while protecting the unique natural character of these special places.

Tonto National Forest Wilderness Areas

Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River

The Coconino and Tonto National Forests are home to the Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River, known for its beautiful clear waters; magnificent fossil-like travertine rock formations; and diverse native fish, plants, and animals. The nearly 17-mile-long river is located in central Arizona on the Coconino and Tonto National Forests, approximately 100 miles from Phoenix.

The long-awaited Fossil Creek Comprehensive River Management Plan (CRMP) was announced on October 4, 2021, despite the current Fossil Creek closure and June Backbone Fire damage. The plan addresses how the creek will be managed and protected.

Verde Scenic River Area & Wild River Area

Motorized equipment and mechanized transport, including bicycles, are prohibited, there are no developed facilities, and horses and hiking are the primary means of transportation in these Congressionally-mandated wilderness areas.

In addition, portions of the Verde River have been designated by Congress as Arizona's first and only Wild River Area, and only Scenic River Area.

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. For more information contact your local forest office.

Other Wilderness Resources