The stark Colorado Desert, with its agave, ocotillo, and creosote, rises up boulder-strewn and eroded canyons to chaparral, juniper, and pine-covered ridges. Elevations change drastically from just above sea level to over 7,000 feet. Seemingly desolate and inhospitable, the Santa Rosa Mountains are laced with deep washes and shallow drainages. Several riparian streams flow year-round. Blistering summer heat is sometimes relieved by thunderstorms that send torrents of water down the sandy washes. Many of these regions are important lambing sites for bighorn sheep; in fact, the mountains support the largest herd of rare peninsular bighorn sheep in the United States. Coniferous forests high in these mountains provide habitat for mule deer, while the desert below houses numerous reptiles including the desert slender salamander. Great horned owls soar in the night skies, and falcons and eagles nest and forage throughout the Wilderness. The primary access into the Wilderness is the 9.5-mile Cactus Spring Trail.

hiking
5 days ago

The trail is well-marked and parking is convenient to the trail head. There are a few nice shade spots to rest in, but much of the trail is full sun as is expected in the desert. Lots of water is a must, as well as sunscreen!

Loved it except the part where I ran into a Cholla cactus! That hurt

hiking
14 days ago

Nice trail. If you get past the first 3 miles it's pretty level the rest of the way. Some small ups and downs but not like the first 3 miles. This time of year was really nice. Cool in the morning and lots of flowers and trees blooming. Didn't see any Big Horns. It's a good workout and make sure you take lots of water. It applies to this hike more then some of the others. Wouldn't want to do this hike in summer. Trailhead has lots of parking and a short 2/10's of a mile walk to the start of the climb. There were a lot of cars parked at the National Monument but the trailhead parking is just past that on the right if your going west or up the hill.

on Art Smith Trail

hiking
14 days ago

hiking
22 days ago

hiking
23 days ago

trail running
23 days ago

Fabulous views and flowers

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail for day hiking with nice views once you get beyond the first mile or so. Several palm oases along the way. Good place to see Bighorn Sheep. If you hike in the fall (October through December) you can use the original trail a bit further in Dead Indian Canyon. It's a better start than the current trail.