The United States Congress designated the North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness (map
) in 1990 and it now has a total of 63,200 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Arizona
and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
The North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness consists of a series of rocky, isolated summits and long ridges dissected by normally dry ephemeral drainages (or "washes") and separated by desert outwash slopes (or "bajadas") and vast, level valley floors. Elevations range from a low of approximately 900 feet above sea level near Gila Bend to approximately 3,000 feet at Butterfield Pass. The wilderness is characterized by two major vegetation communities -- Paloverde-Mixed Cactii, which includes the dense "forests" of saguaro cactus, paloverde, and ironwood trees that presents the classic popular image of the Sonoran Desert, and the Creosote-Bursage community that covers low elevation valley floors in seemingly unbroken expanses. A portion of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail borders the southern boundary of the wilderness, and in 2001 the North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness was incorporated into the Sonoran Desert National Monument.