Agua Fria National Monument

Quick Facts

Agua Fria National Monument

Arizona

(623) 580-5500

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

This expansive mosaic of semi-desert area, cut by ribbons of valuable riparian forest, offers one of the most significant systems of prehistoric sites in the American Southwest. In addition to the rich record of human history, the monument contains outstanding biological resources. Adjacent to rapidly expanding communities, the 71,000-acre Agua Fria National Monument is approximately 40 miles north of central Phoenix. The area is located on a high mesa semi-desert grassland, cut by the canyon of the Agua Fria River and other ribbons of valuable riparian forest, contributing to an outstanding biological resource. The diversity of vegetative communities, topographic features, and a dormant volcano decorates the landscape with a big rocky, basaltic plateau. The Agua Fria river canyon cuts through this plateau exposing precambrian rock along the canyon walls. Elevations range from 2,150 feet above sea level along the Agua Fria Canyon to about 4,600 feet in the northern hills. The area is the home to coyotes, bobcats, antelope, mule deer, javelina, a variety of small mammals and songbirds. Eagles and other raptors may also be seen. Native fish such as the longfin dace, the Gila mountain sucker, the Gila chub, and the speckled dace, exist in the Agua Fria River and its tributaries.

There is lots to see and do within the Agua Fria National Monument, depending on the season. Hiking, viewing cultural sites, wildlife viewing, birdwatching, hunting (big-game and upland game-bird), scenic drives, and four-wheel driving are just a sampling of activities you can enjoy. Please note, however that the monument has no facilities and access is by a rough and rocky road, requiring a high clearance vehicle.

Map of Agua Fria

Latitude, Longitude: 34.145908, -112.142944

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Activities

  • Bicycling

    Bike trails may be available; please contact park services for more information.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Pueblo la Plata is part of the Bloody Basin Road scenic drive. Interpretive kiosks guide visitors along the 20-mile route to Bloody Basin in the Tonto National Forest, the area of a gruesome battle between Army scouts and Apaches.

  • Camping

    There are no facilities within the monument. Undeveloped areas are available for camping with a 14-day limit. Local campgrounds and motels are located in the adjacent communities of Black Canyon City and Cordes Lakes.

  • Fishing

    Fishing sites may be available; please contact park services for more information.

  • Hiking

    Take a quarter of a mile journey on the Badger Springs Trail down the Badger Springs Wash to the Agua Fria River canyon. This route leads to an amazing panel of about 60 petroglyphs. Human figures and bighorn sheep are some of the detailed drawings found in this rock art site. Hikers can travel either upstream or downstream to explore this high-desert canyon. Keep an eye out for coyotes, eagles and javelinas, a hoofed mammal originally from South America that resembles a wild pig.

  • Historic Sites

    The Agua Fria National Monument contains more than 400 archaeological sites, spanning some 2,000 years of human history. Remnants of stone pueblos, some containing more than 100 rooms, represent a system of communities with economic and social ties. Pueblo la Plata, a large settlement of 80 to 100 rooms, attracts many visitors.

  • Hunting

    Hunting is permitted within the national monument. Be certain to purchase the appropriate Arizona Game and Fish Department license and permit and follow all federal and state regulations.

  • Picnicking

    There are no facilities within the monument, but undeveloped areas are available for camping and picnicking.

  • Wildlife Watching

    In addition to the rich record of human history, the monument contains outstanding biological resources. The Agua Fria area is home to bobcats, coyotes, mule deer and a variety of songbirds and raptors. Rattlesnakes and other reptiles are stirred up by the hot desert sun as early as February. Several rare, native fish occupy the Agua Fria River, such as the Gila mountain sucker, the Gila chub and the speckled dace.

Seasonality/Weather

Summer visitors must take extra precaution to drink plenty of water as temperatures may exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a large brimmed hat are recommended. Make sure your gasoline tank is full, carry additional water in your vehicle, and make sure your vehicle is in good condition.

Directions

Driving

From Phoenix: Take Interstate 17 for about 40 miles to the Badger Springs Exit (Exit #256) or the Bloody Basin Road Exit (Exit #259).

Flying

The closest major airport is Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(623) 580-5500

Links