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Cabeza Prieta Wilderness

General Location Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning Images

Recreational Opportunities

The Cabeza Prieta Wilderness offers opportunities for primitive camping, desert hiking, backpacking, photography, hunting, birdwatching, special events, and environmental education.

Special tours to view the wilderness area from the Childs Mountain Watchable Wildlife Site are also available on a monthly basis from January through April. For more information on these activities, contact the refuge office and visitor center.

Climate and Special Equipment Needs

Summers in Cabeza Prieta Wilderness can be torturously hot. As many as 90 to 100 straight days from May to October may exceed the 100 degree F mark with high temperatures sometimes soaring above 115 degrees F. This combined with low annual rainfall (as little as 3 inches on the west side) and the lack of any perennial water catchments anywhere on the refuge, make preplanning for your trip a potentially lifesaving activity. Always carry plenty of water. This means at least 1 to 1.5 gallons per person, per day. Hats, sun screen, sunglasses, and first aid kits should be standard travel items throughout the Southwest.

In the winter, carry extra clothing for cold nights. Dress in layers and be prepared for temperatures which may drop down into the 30 degree range. Lightweight rain gear and sturdy hiking shoes may add comfort to your trip during sudden thunderstorms or cross country hikes through cactus and cholla bajadas.

Safety and Current Conditions

During the summer, be prepared for lightning storms, flash floods, and dust storms. Hotter than normal conditions reinforce the need to carry extra water and limit physical activity during the peak temperature times of the day. Always be watchful for unexploded ordnance and old mine shafts leftover from the mining era. Travelers along the international border should also be alert to potential smuggling activities in the area.

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