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.
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