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By: Dave Helgeson

Places to Ride: Agua Fria National Monument, Arizona

Riding in the Desert

Easy Riding

Narrow Road

Riding the Agua Fria

Opportunities to ride in a national monument are few and far between, so be sure and visit this national treasure on your next visit to Arizona. ATV riding is allowed on existing roads throughout the Agua Fria National Monument. The primitive roads of the monument lend themselves well to ATV travel. Most are single lane or narrower with some receiving regular maintenance while others appear to have been left to the elements.

In other words, there is riding for all skill levels, but the main reason to ride the monument is the scenery which changes at every turn. Elevations range from 2,150 feet along the Agua Fria drainage to about 4,600 feet in the hills to the north. This expansive mosaic of semi-desert and desert area is cut by ribbons of riparian areas. The southern portion of the monument is classical southwestern desert with saguaro cacti dotting the landscape. If you miss a turn and run into one of these, you’ll become a human pin cushion!

The monument is home to bobcats, coyotes, antelope, deer, javelina (wild pigs with bad eyesight), and a variety of other small mammals and birds. Raptors, including eagles, may also be seen.

Remember you are riding in the desert. Go prepared with plenty of drinking water, sun protection, and don’t forget a small tool kit which should include a tire patch kit, spare spark plug, and master link for your ATV. Avoid riding alone and let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Summer temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees. Be on the lookout for rattlesnakes as well.

There are no developed camping facilities within the monument. Undeveloped areas are available for camping with a 14-day limit. Visitors can pick their own campsite, but please protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from water sources and use biodegradable soap. Local campgrounds and motels are located in the nearby communities of Black Canyon City and Cordes Junction.

Getting There:
The Agua Fria National Monument is located about 40 miles north of Phoenix, AZ. It is easily accessed by traveling via Interstate 17 to the Badger Springs Exit (Exit #256) or the Bloody Basin Road Exit (Exit #259). A map of the area can be obtained at: ... riamap.pdf
Note: There are many primitive roads open to riding not shown on this map.

Grocery, restaurants, fuel, and lodging are located in the adjacent communities of Black Canyon City and Cordes Junction. The nearest major cities are Phoenix and Flagstaff.

Rules and Regulations:

  • Off-road travel is not allowed
  • No permits or fees are required
  • All ATVs are required to be titled, and the owner shall receive one numbered plate valid for the life of the vehicle.
  • All riders (operator and passenger) under 18 must wear a helmet at all times. (Applies to ATVs that are operated on public highways as allowed by law.)
  • No passengers are allowed on the ATV unless it is designed to carry more than one person. (Applies to ATVs that are operated on public highways as allowed by law.)

For Additional Information:

Hassayampa Field Office
Rem Hawes, Monument Manager
21605 N. 7th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85027-2929
(623) 580-5500 ... afria.html

Be safe, enjoy, and I hope to see you on the trails.

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