Aravaipa Canyon Preserve.
Aravaipa hike Aravaipa Canyon Preserve. © Justin Bailie

Places We Protect

Aravaipa Canyon Preserve


Aravaipa Creek flows perennially through the full length of the preserve’s scenic canyon.

Isolated Aravaipa Canyon is one of the true natural Arizona wonders, featuring a desert steam, majestic cliffs and bighorn sheep. Located about 50 miles northeast of Tucson, the preserve includes lands at both the east and west end of Aravaipa Canyon, as well as preserved lands intermixed with public land on the canyon’s south rim.

The 9,000 acres owned by The Nature Conservancy are managed in conjunction with about 40,000 acres of federal lands. Preserve elevation ranges from 2,800 feet at the west end of the canyon bottom to 6,150 feet on Table Mountain.

The 10-mile long central gorge, which cuts through the northern end of the Galiuro Mountains, is a federal Wilderness Area managed by BLM. Access into Aravaipa Canyon is by permit only and available only through BLM.

Fish monitoring, controlled burning, and other conservation management activities on Aravaipa Canyon Preserve are directed toward ensuring the long-term protection of the stream system and its mixed broadleaf riparian forest composed of cottonwood, willow, walnut, alder, and sycamore trees.

Preserve Regulations
In consideration of our sensitive wildlife habitats and the number of visitors we host, all visitors are asked to remain on the road while traveling through The Nature Conservancy’s preserve land. No unauthorized off-road entry is allowed. Damage or removal of any plants, animals, wood, minerals, or artifacts and/or collecting of any kind is prohibited. Visitors are asked not to feed the wildlife. Picnicking, camping, and fires are not permitted. No dogs, horses, or other domestic animals are allowed on the preserve. Hunting, fishing and firearms are prohibited. To preserve the natural character of our lands for our wildlife and the privacy of our visitors, we restrict the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), whether amateur or commercial, anywhere within this preserve.

Road Conditions
Roads into and through the preserve are gravel, can be rough and are subject to closure during wet weather.  At the east end the road crosses Aravaipa Creek several times through the preserve before reaching BLM Wilderness Area parking. All visitors are asked to remain on the road while traveling through The Nature Conservancy’s preserve land.  No hunting or unauthorized off-road entry is allowed on the preserve. 

Hat, binoculars, sturdy shoes, sunscreen and plenty of water.  High-clearance vehicles are recommended.

No camping is allowed within the preserve. At the West end, camping is available across from the Brandenburg Ranger Station. Brandenburg Campsite is identified by a sign along Aravaipa Road. There are restrooms and trash cans. Fires are not allowed. Space is very limited. Only one small group can occupy this site and no other public land is available outside the wilderness for camping on the West end.

At the East end two camping areas are available. Fourmile Canyon Campground, located about one mile southwest of the Klondyke Store has ten units with picnic tables, grills and a flush toilet. Fourmile Canyon has a fee of $5.00 per night. The second area is Turkey Creek, a primitive camping area with no facilities. Turkey Creek is located near the east wilderness entrance and has no fee.

Please remember that, on both entrances, campsites are limited and are on a first-come, first-served basis. Primitive camping in the Wilderness Area is for permit holders only.

Call (928) 828-3443 or e-mail

Wildlife Viewing
Pristine Aravaipa Creek flows perennially through the full length of the preserve’s canyon property and is the heart of the preserve and canyon. The creek is a tributary of the San Pedro River and shelters the best remaining assemblage of desert fishes in Arizona, with seven native species.  Two of these species are federally listed as threatened—the spikedace and loach minnow. Among the more than 200 species of birds found at Aravaipa are black and zone-tailed hawks, peregrine falcon, yellow-billed cuckoo, Bell’s vireo, and beardless tyrannulet.

Among the larger mammals that roam the canyon rim and bottomlands are mountain lion, coatimundi, ringtailed cats, black bear, and desert bighorn sheep. In the spring, colorful native wildflowers such as lupine, four o’clock, monkey flowers, columbine and other, more rare species can be seen along Aravaipa Creek. Check out our Calendar of Nature Events for more details.

Open daily, year-round. Access into Aravaipa Canyon requires a permit from the Bureau of Land Management by calling (928) 348-4400. Pedestrian access to the Conservancy's preserve is allowed only with prior authorization from Aravaipa Canyon Preserve staff. Neither The Nature Conservancy nor its Aravaipa Canyon Preserve staff can issue BLM Wilderness permits. Permits can be obtained only by contacting the Safford, Arizona District Office by calling (928) 348-4400.