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Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness
Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness is located northeast of Tucscon in the southeastern part of Arizona. It is managed by the BLM and is approximately 19,000 acres. A natural wonder, Aravaipa Creek sits at the bottom of a deep canyon with beautiful cliffs and a long length of prime desert riparian habitat. This year-round creek runs for 11 miles and supports 7 native species of fish, 12 bat species and more than 238 bird species. The park includes table lands as well as tributary canyons. This park preserves the best-known example of "cottonwood-willow gallery forest" in the southwest.
The canyon is managed strictly to keep the area as wild as possible. You must obtain a permit from the BLM to enter the Wilderness and only 50 people a day are admitted. This is a rare management decision that benefits wildlife. The adjacent Nature Conservancy's Aravaipa Canyon Preserve that protects 7,000 acres also adds to the wildness of the area. You must obtain permisson from the Nature Conservancy to hike on this preserve as well.
Amazingly diverse in flora and fauna, you can find Saguaros clinging to the cliffs, with the canyon bottom filled with Cottonwood, Arizona Alder, Ash and Arizona Walnut.
A myriad of animals survive by the river including Coatimundis, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Javelinas, Ringtail Cats, as well as Coue’s white-tailed deer. In the forested uplands you can find the threatened Mexican Spotted Owl and Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. Seven species of native fish swim the creek, including the Federally threatened Spikedace, and Loach Minnow, as well as Speckled Dace, Round-Tailed Chub, and Desert Sucker.
Conservation efforts at Aravaipa include active fish monitoring and removal of invasive species such as Periwinkle or Vinca (Vinca sp.) which the park dedicates substantial resources to combating.