The Safford Ranger District includes four of the Coronado National Forest's “sky islands”: the Winchester, Galiuro, Santa Teresa and Pinaleno mountain ranges. The Galiuro mountains contain the Galiuro Wilderness, one of the most remote and rugged areas in southeast Arizona. The Pinaleno Mountains are a popular recreation destination, where you can find campgrounds, miles of hiking trails, and trout fishing (in Riggs Flat Lake).
Located about 50 airline miles northeast of Tucson, the 76,000-acre Galiuro wilderness is accessible only by dirt roads. In spite of the fact that the Galiuros are lower in elevation than some of the nearby ranges, they are steep and rugged and offer a rich variety of plant life. Grasses and evergreen oaks are found on the lower slopes, and ponderosa pine on the higher peaks. Douglas-fir and maple grow in the limited cooler, moister sites, and a grove of aspen exists on the northern side of 7,663-foot Bassett Peak, the Galiuros' highest point. Maintained trails should be followed, since off-trail hiking is extremely difficult in the rough terrain and dense vegetation. There is no public right-of-way, and roads that cross private land may be closed at the landowners' discretion. Use of roads crossing State land requires a permit from the Arizona Land Department, or that the user be actively hunting in accordance with a valid hunting license.
Santa Teresa Wilderness
The Santa Teresa Mountains are located about 30 miles west of Safford. They are characterized by a network of rugged mountains, deep canyons and large mesas. Elevations rise from less than 4,000 feet in the canyon bottoms to nearly 7,500 feet at the summit of Cottonwood Peak. The central part of the Wilderness is dominated by Holdout and Mud Spring mesas. Holdout Canyon typifies the Santa Teresas because its extreme ruggedness provides extraordinary solitude. Trails are hard to follow, because of their remoteness and lack of maintenance. Water is available seasonally in a few isolated springs. Access to the Wilderness is over many miles of unpaved roads. There is no public right-of-way, and roads that cross private land may be closed at the landowners' discretion. Use of roads crossing State land requires a permit from the Arizona Land Department, or that the user be actively hunting in accordance with a valid hunting license.
The majority of developed recreation facilities are located in the Pinaleno Mountains, although dispersed camping, trails and other recreation opportunities abound in all of the ranges of the Safford District.
The Swift Trail, a paved road for about two-thirds of its length, provides good access to the Pinaleno Mountains, except during the winter, when it is closed at the end of the pavement. Access to the Winchester, Galiuro and Santa Teresa Mountains is more difficult and involves travel over dirt roads. The Winchesters and Galiuros can be accessed from State Route 266 to the Sunset Loop and the Ash-Mesas Road, or from Willcox via county roads to the Sunset Loop. Roads lead to the Santa Teresas from US Route 70 via the Klondyke Road, however there is no public right-of-way. Visitors should inquire at the District Office regarding road conditions, especially if traveling in a sedan.
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