Isolated Aravaipa Canyon takes a bit of planning to get into, but it delivers a rarity in Arizona: a desert stream that supports a rich riparian ecosystem.
Now a ghost town, Aravaipa has a lively past. In prehistoric days, the Hohokam, Mogollon, and Salado grew corn and other crops in the fertile soil; by the 16th century, Sobaipuri Indians developed sophisticated irrigation systems near the San Pedro River. During the 18th century, the Aravaipa band of Apaches waged war with the United States cavalry, before Hispanic and Anglo settlers brought cattle, goats, and sheep herds to the region. Ranching continues today. During the late 1800s, copper was king and Aravaipa prospered.
Now it’s the land that commands attention. The Nature Conservancy takes excellent care of the 7,000-acre Aravaipa Canyon Preserve, located about 50 miles northeast of Tucson and adjacent to federal wilderness. Access is by permit from the Bureau of Land Management. That paperwork is a golden ticket to a 10-mile gorge through the majestic cliffs of the Galiuro Mountains. Elevation soars from 2,800 to 6,150 feet.
Can you hear the singing waters? Alder, cottonwoods, sycamore, walnut, and willow trees flourish thanks to the life-giving flow of Aravaipa Creek, which runs year-round. And keep a keen eye – bighorn sheep are still spotted here. Aravaipa Canyon has been described as an Arizona paradise, the kind of place that offers quiet reflection. Nestled at the foot of Brandenburg Mountain, Aravaipa Canyon Ranch lets you extend your stay in these peaceful surroundings.Visit City Site
Bureau of Land Management, Safford Field Office | 711 14th Ave. | Safford, AZ | (928) 348-4400 | www.blm.gov/az
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