The United States Congress designated the Paiute Wilderness (map
) in 1984 and it now has a total of 87,900 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Arizona
and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
The Virgin Mountains are aptly named, as they have remained virtually unblemished by human intrusion. These mountains form the backbone of Paiute Wilderness, a geological amalgam of granite, gneiss, and limestone. Tucked deep within secret canyons are beautiful pools of water, well worth the effort it takes to find them. Sullivan Canyon in the north is strewn with boulders, exceptionally lovely, and fire-hot in summer. From atop Mount Bangs, the Paiute's highest point at 8,012 feet (over 5,600 feet above the desert floor), you'll get a panoramic view of the whole area and the Mojave Desert to the west. Up on Mt. Bangs you'll find ponderosa pine growing higher than piñon pine, shrub oak, and sagebrush, interspersed with Joshua trees, yucca, and barrel cactus. More than 250 animal species have been identified in this area, including mule deer, mountain lions, desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, and Gila monsters. Only the corridor of Interstate 15 as it travels between St. George, Utah and Mesquite, Nevada separates Paiute Wilderness from Beaver Dam Mountains Wilderness to the north.
Along Virgin Ridge Loop Trail you can climb with great physical effort to a high, pine-clad ridge or drop down to Atkin Spring. From here, a short hike through a natural opening leads to beautiful Sullivan Canyon. Finding a level camping spot may prove difficult. The Paiute is a magnificent 55-square-mile Wilderness partially within Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument that is slowly being discovered.