The United States Congress designated the South Maricopa Mountains Wilderness (map
) in 1990 and it now has a total of 60,100 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Arizona
and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
The South 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 1,280 feet above sea level on the western boundary to approximately 3,270 feet along the spine of the mountains. 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. In 2001 the South Maricopa Mountains Wilderness was incorporated into the Sonoran Desert National Monument.