Aldo Leopold Wilderness

Wilderness Area

Status: Open

This area is Open


This wilderness, which straddles the crest of the Black Range and contains the most rugged and wild portion of these mountains, pays tribute to one of the greatest pioneers of wilderness preservation. Only Forest Service Road 150 separates it from the even larger Gila Wilderness, recognized on June 3, 1924, as the world's first designated wilderness area, a direct result of Leopold's efforts.

The Black Range shoots out in a network of deep canyons and precipitous timbered ridges, rincons, and forested benches--a land of superlative beauty and unbroken serenity. Juniper, pinion pine, and oak dominate up to about 7,000 feet, at which point other pines, fir, spruce, and aspen take over the woodland.

Vista points here sometimes drop off as much as 1,000 feet to rivers and streams verdantly outlined by cottonwoods, willows, and alders. While some springs flow throughout the year, other springs and streams dry up at times.

One thing that never dwindles is the wealth of critters, from bats to bears, coyotes, foxes, skunks, raccoons, ringtail cats, bobcats, mountain lions, squirrels, rats, mice, voles, plus frogs, lizards, and snakes, along with a multitude of songbirds.

The Continental Divide cuts across the center ridgeline of the wilderness, and a 33-mile-plus section of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) forms a portion of the southern boundary. Consider devoting a large chunk of time to exploring this area. When you discover the bounty that awaits you, you won't regret it.