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Agua Fria National Monument Arizona

Agua Fria National Monument Arizona, 3-9 days, April to December

This monument area is located on high mesa desert like prairie. There are many different kinds of plant zones here and very interesting geographical features. You can even see decorative multi colored and textured rocks in one area from an old volcano. This 71,000-acre monument on semi-desert forest provides Americans one of the best collections of prehistoric sites in Southwest. There are tons of writings, markings, art, and fossils here. The Agua Fria river canyon goes right through this area and you can see pre cambrian rock on the cliffs. But what I love the most are the great views, and wide open desert plains.

  agua fria national monument arizona pictures

Big song coyotes, eagles and hawks, big owls, small bobcats, wild antelope, hairy mule deer, and the super cool javelina pig creature live in this acreage. With so few people camping here, and with an area so large the animals, mammals, reptiles, and birds have a real nice go of it. You can walk along the Agua Fria River, home to many interesting fish like the Gila mountain sucker and the speckled dace. Many of the smaller streams running to and from the main river make great places to camp overnight.

One of the more annoying issues is that you need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to come into the park safely (most Vanabodes do not have high enough clearance for very many of the roads). Then once inside the park boundaries you are not allowed to "off road travel" but must stay on the main already established dirt and rock roads. You can hike and camp off the main roads and into the wild, you just can't drive there.

You can walk, camp, shoot photograph, and even hunt some species of animals during select times of the year. I could not find information on fishing though. The great views and the close proximity to the big city of Phoenix make this an easy place to Vanabode as long as you don't intend to drive too far into the interior. The elevation of the monument ranges anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 feet so during the winter the upper regions can get quite cold.

At the Pueblo la Plata you can visit and photograph a large settlement of stone masonry pueblos. Go about 8 miles up the Bloody Basin Road from the entrance of the national monument. Turn north and follow the dirt road for approximately one mile. A high clearance vehicle is recommended but if you drive super slow, I am talking 3-4 miles and hour, you can do it in a Vanabode like mine. There is a short walk at the end of the road to get to the actual pueblos.

Directions: Drive 40 miles north on I-17 from Phoenix, Arizona.

  agua fria national monument arizona sunset desert picture

Vanabode Special Notes:
The monument has no developed facilities, and the terrain is rough and rocky – a high clearance 4 x 4 vehicle is required. There are no facilities within the monument for camping so come prepared to do everything yourself including toilet duty. This is typical camping rules with a requirement to move to a different location every 14 days. You can get all the supplies, food and fuel you need in nearby Black Canyon City. Do not try to drive your van above 5 miles an hour in the rough and rocky areas around the monument.

Make sure to drink plenty of water as temperatures in the summer months exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course If you follow my guidelines for successful Vanabode travel you will not frequent any place for very long that has day time temperatures exceeding 90 degrees or night time temperatures exceeding 75 degrees. Make sure to fill your gas tank and carry enough water in your van. Rattlesnakes and some venomous reptiles also live in the Agua Fria National Monument in Arizona.

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