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Kofa Wilderness

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Area Management

The Kofa Wilderness is part of the 110 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System. This System of lands provides clean air, water, and habitat critical for rare and endangered plants and animals. In wilderness, you can enjoy challenging recreational activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, horse packing, bird watching, stargazing, and extraordinary opportunities for solitude. You play an important role in helping to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness" as called for by the Congress of the United States through the Wilderness Act of 1964. Please follow the requirements outlined below and use Leave No Trace techniques when visiting the Kofa Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.

The Kofa Refuge and Wilderness is open to visitation year-round, 24 hours a day. There are no entrance fees and visitors are free to camp wherever they choose, keeping in mind the vehicle restrictions. The vast majority of the public comes to the Kofa Wilderness between October and March when 'winter visitors' flock to southern Arizona. These 'snowbirds' as they are also called, tend to remain on or close to the designated roads. Thus, intrepid hikers can still find vast areas of the Refuge to themselves. The Refuge is virtually devoid of human activity during the hot summer months.

The Refuge was established primarily for conservation of desert bighorn sheep and their habitat. This is still one of the primary management objectives. Subsequently, wilderness visitors are apt to encounter man-made structures such as concrete dams, windmills, and other modified or enhanced water sources. Many of these structures, built in the 1940s and ‘50s, have been allowed to slowly deteriorate, while others are maintained by Refuge staff to provide essential water needs for desert wildlife. On occasion wilderness solitude may be interrupted by the sounds and sights of aerial overflights as Refuge staff conduct wildlife surveys. The airspace over the Refuge is controlled by the military; thus, you may also see and hear military jets and helicopters during your visit. By and large, however, the remoteness and solitude of Kofa’s backcountry is unmatched by other, more heavily visited wilderness areas.

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