If you want to go hiking in Aravaipa Canyon, at least an overnight is highly recommended, but if you’re in the area, you could easily do an out-and-back hike from either the East or West Trailheads.
The length of Aravaipa Canyon is 12 miles. Once you begin hiking, there is no designated trail. The BLM map and a GPS device or app is necessary to keep track of mileage, location, and finding side canyons.
There is a “trail” that hugs the creek through most of the canyon, but at many points you will be required to cross or hike in the creek and over sand banks. Depending on the time of year and water level, you could be dealing with water at thigh level. Proper footwear such as water sandals with socks or quick-dry trail runners/hiking boots with socks are necessary. Because of the many creek-crossings, plan on hiking one mile an hour and don’t expect to do the full 12-mile canyon in a single day.
If you’d rather spend more time hiking and exploring Aravaipa, we have a two night Aravaipa backpacking trip that you’ll love!
How to Get to Aravaipa Canyon
Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness is located just 120 miles and about a 2.5 hour drive southeast of Phoenix. If you are coming from Tucson, it is about a 1.5 hour drive northeast. There is an east and west entrance to the walkable areas of Aravaipa Canyon. To access the east entrance, you’ll come from Highway 70. You need a high clearance vehicle for the 46-mile dirt road with multiple creek crossings. The west entrance is much more easily accessible, just off of Highway 77 onto a 12 mile road that is paved 1/4 of the way.
Side Canyons & Slot Canyons of Aravaipa
A great stopping point for the first night of a backpacking trip in Aravaipa Canyon is Horse Camp Canyon. Horse Camp Canyon is 5 miles from the west entrance trailhead. Some side canyons are narrow with many twists and turns like Hell Hole Canyon, and others spread out before you like Horse Camp Canyon with cream-colored canyon walls than slope down into dips and potholes (don’t swim in them!), an incredible contrast to the rugged cliffs that tower above.
Go Guided with AOA
This canyon oasis is a guide favorite and a true undiscovered gem. Join AOA’s expert guides in exploring this unique wilderness area.