Aravaipa Canyon

Mammoth, Arizona 85618

Aravaipa Canyon

Aravaipa Canyon Professional Review and Guide

"A wilderness route through Aravaipa Canyon. Aravaipa Canyon is ranked among the great scenic wonders of the state of Arizona. Here, the rushing waters of Aravaipa Creek cut through volcanic stone as the Galiuro Mountains rose around it. The erosion of the water cut faster than the land rose, and the result was a steep-walled canyon chiseled through the heart of the mountains.

Vanished tribes left cliff dwellings and cave paintings here, and later this rocky channel was an important travel corridor for the Aravaipa Apaches, who were among the last of their tribe to submit to reservations. A permanent stream runs through the canyon, forming one of the last wetland ecosystems in Arizona. One of the healthiest desert bighorn populations in the state roams these canyon walls. Because of its rare species and wild character, Aravaipa Canyon is now protected under the Wilderness Act, which forbids motor travel in the canyon."

More Aravaipa Canyon Professional Reviews and Guides

"A delightful hike along one of Arizona’s best desert riparian areas. There is no established trail through Aravaipa Canyon; you simply follow the stream. Stream wading with numerous crossings (up to knee deep) and hiking through dense riparian brush can slow travel time. It takes a strong hiker about 10 hours to hike the length of the canyon. Topographic maps are handy for keeping track of your progress. The lack of an established trail does not detract from the popularity of this hike. Thousand-foot cliffs rise above a green ribbon of rich riparian habitat found along the 11-mile segment of Aravaipa Creek that flows through the wilderness.

More than 200 species of birds live among the shady cottonwoods and willows growing along the perennial waters of Aravaipa Creek. During late spring and summer, birders can expect yellow-billed cuckoos, vermilion flycatchers, northern beardless-tyrannulets, yellow warblers, yellow-breasted chats, and summer tanagers. Two federally listed threatened fish, spikedace and loach minnow, can be found in the creek. There are an additional five species of native fish, which makes Aravaipa Creek one of the best native fisheries remaining in Arizona. The stream has been recommended for designation as a National Wild and Scenic River. Permit: There is a hiking fee, and a permit in advance is required."

"Although severe flooding in 1983 and again in 1993 destroyed many mature cottonwood and sycamore trees, Aravaipa Canyon, cutting through the northern end of the Galiuro Mountains, remains a classic example of desert riparian habitat. Arizona ash, sycamore, walnut, fremont cottonwood, willow, hackberry, oak, and box elder line the entire elevenmile river corridor. The uplands above the river support saguaro cactus, barrel cactus, yucca, ocotillo and other plants typical of the Sonoran Desert. Sharp-eyed hikers frequently see desert bighorn sheep, which inhabit the upper reaches of the canyon, peering down from the rim. Other wildlife abounds. Troops of coatimundi are frequently encountered in the Aravaipa Wilderness region, as well as mule and white-tailed deer, mountain lion, black bear, ringtail, and coyote.

The creek is habitat for minnows and suckers. Peregrine falcons nest on the cliffs above the canyon, and, as is typical with desert riparian habitats, an enormous variety of birds congregate along the creek bottom. The remains of dwellings show that paleo-Indians lived in Aravaipa Canyon region, and until the late nineteenth century, the wilderness area was inhabited by Apache people. This trail guide covers an area that has no maintained trails."

Aravaipa Canyon Reviews

4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
icon3 Total
5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
The hike was great. The water flowed from klon@$!*% to mammoth, so we were hiking up stream, but that was not a problem at all. We saw tons of wild life. Owls, deer, turtles, and big horn sheep. I would recommend this hike to everybody. Also fair warning to all future hikers, a good portion of the hike is in the water, which is pretty much ankle deep anyways, so plan accordingly.
4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
We hiked Aravaipa up to Javelina Canyon since we didn't get started until around 11:00 a.m. The water was a little cold but after awhile we got used to it. It did seem easier most of the time to hike in the water rather than climb over all the piles of flood debris. I last hiked Aravaipa Canyon before the 2006 flood and the changes to the canyon are amazing, especially in the lower canyon. I recommend wearing tennies or something similar. Some us wore water sandals, some open toed and some closed and we were continuously emptying out the small gravel and the sand. Once we got really into the canyon it was spectacular; but I am biased since this canyon is one of my favorites. No one else in our party of 6 had been there before but they all want to return and go further into the canyon. We saw black phoebes along the way and lots of small fish in the creek...and, of course, herons along the road after the hike. Unfortunately, we didn't see any bighorn sheep. And, we didn't make any wrong turns into side canyons...we watched out for that! p.s. The hike was on 2/24. No problems with water levels on our hike.
4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
Excellent hike from the West Entrance. Wear trail shoes or a sturdy old pair of sneakers because you are in and out of the creek which, BTW. never fails to give sandals the opportunity to fill up with rocks. Cold night's in January, but the short day heats up the canyon decently enough. Most of the side canyons are impassable to all unless bouldering is your thing, otherwise Hell's Hole is the side canyon you can't miss. Don't forget to check out the spring as it begins to narrow into a slot canyon. PLenty of tracks but no sightings (Javelina, racoon, mountiain lion and coyote or fox). Bird watchers don't forget your binoculars, numerous predatory birds you can spot.

Aravaipa Canyon Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
465 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
Best March to May; September to November
2,800 feet
Trailhead Elevation
3,065 feet
Top Elevation
Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, Safford District, BLM
Local Contacts
USGS Brandenburg Mountain, Booger Canyon
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Sep 2018