Bonita Creek Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area

Quick Facts

Bonita Creek Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area

Arizona

(928) 348-4400

Map Directions

Things To Do

   

Overview

The 23,000-acre Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area is truly an oasis in the desert. It has four perennial waterways - the Gila and San Francisco rivers and Bonita and Eagle creeks, which are the lifeline for this remarkable place. The Gila River canyon section, known as the Gila Box, is composed of patchy mesquite woodlands, mature cottonwoods, sandy beaches, and grand buff-colored cliffs. Bonita Creek, popular for birdwatching, hiking, and picnicking, is lined with large cottonwoods, sycamores, and willows. The perennial creek and riparian vegetation make this a cool year-round desert oasis. Cliff dwellings, historic homesteads, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and over 200 species of birds make this year-round watery desert refuge worth the short drive from Safford.

Rafting, canoeing, kayaking, picnicking, birdwatching, scenic drives, fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking, sightseeing, historic interpretation, camping, horseback riding, photography, swimming, wildflower viewing, four-wheel driving, and hunting.

Map of Bonita Creek Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area

Latitude, Longitude: 32.889822, -109.493179

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Activities

  • Camping

    Bonita Creek offers some of the most outstanding birding opportunities in Southeastern Arizona. There are over 200 species of birds within the NCA. Optimum viewing season is spring and summer. This viewing deck offers a unique view at treetop levels on the rim of Bonita Creek. The deck is the only fully accessible year-round viewing area in southeast Arizona and Riverview Campground is within walking distance.

    Developed campgrounds include the 13-unit Riverview Campground and the 7-unit Owl Creek Campground. Each has tables, shade structures, grills, restrooms, and trash cans. Riverview also has potable water. Fees are charged at both. Camping is also permitted on adjacent public lands, but no facilities are available. Camping is not permitted in riparian areas and designated picnic sites. Lodging is available in Clifton and Safford, AZ.

  • Hiking

    The Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area includes four perennial waterways, the Gila and San Francisco rivers and Bonita and Eagle creeks. This region is a very special riparian ecosystem abounding with plant and animal diversity. Impressive Gila Conglomerate cliffs tower more than 1,000 feet above the Gila River, and bighorn sheep are commonly spotted. Canoeing, kayaking, and rafting enthusiasts take advantage of the spring run-off to enjoy an easy to moderately difficult floating adventure down the Gila. Many people also float the river in inflatable kayaks during the low water of the summer. Lower water also affords hikers the opportunity to safely enjoy the scenic canyon. Numerous prehistoric and historical structures can be viewed. A network of primitive roads provides hours of backcountry adventure for four-wheel-drive and mountain bike trekkers. The Bonita Creek Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area provides a bird's-eye view of the riparian canyon below, with over 100 species of birds recorded here. A homestead cabin, rock art and cliff dwellings, show evidence of the occupation of this important perennial stream by earlier inhabitants.

Seasonality/Weather

Elevations range from 3,100 to 4,400 feet. The conservation area is open year-round. Summer temperatures can be extremely hot, and some winter days quite cold. Flooding may occur during winter and summer rainy seasons, as well as during spring run-off.

Directions

Driving

The Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area is located 20 miles northeast of Safford in Graham and Greenlee counties. From Safford to reach the west side, travel five miles east on U.S. Highway 70 to Solomon, AZ. At Solomon, turn left on the Sanchez Road and follow the road to the end of the pavement. From there, follow the signs to Bonita Creek and the lower end of the Gila Box. To reach the east side from Safford, take Highway 70 east 10 miles to its junction with U.S. Highway 191. Turn left and follow Highway 191 about 29 miles to milepost 160, which is four miles south of Clifton, AZ. Turn left onto the signed Black Hills Back Country Byway, and follow the road four miles to the conservation area.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(928) 348-4400

Links