Earlier this year I decided that I wanted to try to visit all of the wilderness areas in Arizona before I finish my Ph.D. I have a little under 3 years left, but a lot of places to go! This venture was inspired in part by my lab-mate Brett Seymoure, who has his own goal of visiting every National Park in the country. While I think that is an awesome goal that I too hope to achieve one day, it is definitely a much more costly goal considering the location of some of these national parks (e.g. Hawaii, Alaska). I can drive to every single wilderness area in Arizona, so I decided this should be some I could accomplish while I live here, even though there are 90 wilderness areas….
So what is a wilderness area? In 1964, the Wilderness Act became the first law to define and create wilderness areas in the world. There are many definitions within the law pertaining to what a wilderness area is, but essentially it is a protected area that is undeveloped and unmanipulated by man and can be used for public purposes such as hiking, camping, kayaking, and many others. They are areas where you will find little to no paved roads or man-made structures, but you will also find miles and miles of beautiful land to explore. A great resource for more information on wilderness areas is http://www.wilderness.net. Here, they not only provide information, history, and policies for wilderness areas in general, but they have lists and maps of the locations of every wilderness area in the country.
Every state has at least one wilderness area, with (as you might guess) some of the western states having the most (e.g. California, Arizona, Nevada). Arizona currently has 90, according to wilderness.net (list, map). Of these 90, I have only visited 12, and so I still have a long way to go! Below are the different areas I’ve been to:
– Kachina Peaks Wilderness
– Strawberry Crater Wilderness
– Escudilla Wilderness
– Mt. Baldy Wilderness
– Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness
– Miller Peak Wilderness
– Chiricahua Wilderness
– Chiricahua National Monument Wilderness
– Saguaro Wilderness
– Superstition Wilderness
– Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness
– Mazatzal Wilderness
Please let me know if you would like to visit a wilderness area together or if you plan to also take up the challenge. I hope everyone will go and explore/enjoy some of the amazing wilderness areas across this state!