Rising to 9,452', Mount Wrightson towers about 7,000 feet above the surrounding desert floor in the heart of the Santa Rita Mountains. The Mt. Wrightson Wilderness is an area of high ridges and peaks with rough hillsides dropping into deep canyons, surrounded by semi-arid hills and grasslands. The upper elevations support a large Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forest while the lower elevations are covered with pinon and juniper. The canyon bottoms tend to have seasonal streams that supported some very rich riparian habitats until a large forest fire came through in the summer of 2005. If you want to go hiking or camping in here you might want to check with the Forest Service in regards to present conditions: wildfires leave a mess that affects things for years afterward.

The Madera Canyon Recreation Area is a popular access point to Mt. Wrightson Wilderness. Madera Canyon is also one of the most famous birdwatching areas in the southwestern US. The Santa Rita's used to be the at the center of a lot of mining activity, and remains of that action are still visible along some of the trails in the area. A limited number of springs and streams may provide water year round, but don't count on it in dry seasons and dry years. Be safe, carry lots of your own.

USGS Quads: Helvetia, Mt. Hopkins, Mt. Wrightson