Sycamore Canyon Wilderness

Area Status: Open
Sycamore Canyon Wilderness

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Sycamore Canyon Wilderness encompasses the second largest canyon in Arizona’s red rock country and was designated a wilderness area in 1972. A lesser known, but equally scenic, cousin of Oak Creek Canyon, Sycamore Canyon Wilderness contains more than 50,000 acres of colorful cliffs, soaring pinnacles, and one of the world's rarest habitats, a desert riparian area.

Managed by four separate ranger districts of three different National Forests, this wilderness has plenty to offer. Wildlife viewers will enjoy trying to spy black bears, mountain lions, ringtail cats, and javelina, along with enjoying the singing of canyon wrens and hermit thrushes. Hikers and backpackers have a choice of 15 trails to explore. Try to find the picturesque lair of another of the canyon's historic residents, the American cowboy, on Taylor Cabin Trail. The Sycamore Rim Trail (Kaibab National Forest) skirts the canyon's upper reaches through an area of secluded pools and tall forests, while Parson’s Trail meanders up a fertile desert riparian area, a habitat as rare as it is productive.

Wilderness areas are rare, wild places set aside by Congress where the land is allowed to retain its natural state, serving as a natural haven for humans to escape modern civilization and for nature to be itself. To help minimize human impacts in wilderness and maintain its character, several laws and regulations have been put in place and we ask visitors practice “Leave No Trace Ethics.”

Attractions: Wilderness solitude, trails for hiking and horseback riding, red rocks, pinnacles, buttes and arches, photography & wildlife viewing, swimming, and fishing, history (Native American ruins, historic cabins).

Trails in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Access via FR538 is closed to vehicles in the winter.
Closest Towns: Sedona, AZ, and Flagstaff, AZ
Operated By: Red Rock Ranger District 928-203-2900 and Flagstaff Ranger District 928-526-0866

General Information


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 thumbnail for larger view.

Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Map


General Notes:


  • No mechanized vehicles including bicycles in the Wilderness.
  • Fire danger is usually high - be careful with campfires.
  • Camp at least 200 feet from springs and bury human waste 200 feet from springs. Pack out all trash.

Leave No Trace: Recognize your role in preserving wild lands by practicing these Leave No Trace principles:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimize campfire impacts.
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Be considerate of other visitors.


Trails in the Wilderness

Sycamore Canyon Wilderness 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 National Forest, and by the Kaibab National Forest.


Additional Resources

The Wilderness Institute

The Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Map is available from Coconino National Forest offices or by phone 928-527-3600 using Visa, MasterCard or Discover Card.


Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities