Best Of Tucson®

Best Backpacking Trail

Arivaipa Canyon

Oracle Road (AZ 77) about 10 miles past Mammoth, to Arivaipa Road

STAFF PICK: Southern Arizona has some of the best backpacking trials in the country, many of which seldom see footprints or are local secrets found only by the most inquisitive. Arivaipa Canyon sits between the Galiuros and the Santa Teresas, two of the Coronado's least-traveled and -trammeled wilderness areas. Arivaipa is a deep canyon cut through colorful rocks by a rare and beautiful perennial creek and is itself a Bureau of Land Management designated wilderness area. It's a relatively easy backpack with many creek crossings and a sometimes elusive trail. There are many campsites set above the creek on grassy benches where it's heaven to sit after a long day and listen to the creek rush by. It's also a perfect place to take day hikes up the numerous and secretive side canyons. The riparian area and desert scrub hillsides house over 200 bird species, including the peregrine falcon. You also may be blessed with a chance to see mountain lions, bighorn sheep and rattlesnakes in and among the craggy hillsides. To visit this 11-mile stretch of canyon you must get a permit from the Safford office of the BLM (call at least a couple of weeks in advance).

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