The Sierra Ancha Wilderness was established as a
Primitive Area in 1933 and a Wilderness in 1964. Uranium exploration carved
a few roads into this area in the 1950s, roads now being reclaimed by
rough, scenic and often inaccessible, Sierra Ancha consists of precipitous
box canyons, towering vertical cliffs and pine-covered mesas, and ranges in
elevation from 4,000 feet near Cherry Creek to above 7,400 feet on several
high peaks, reaching the highest point on Aztec Peak at 7,733 feet.
The rugged Sierra Ancha Wilderness was the site of Indian villages during
Arizona's prehistoric period; their culture is often called "Salado". Here the
prehistoric Salados culture built and lived in cliff dwellings of which many
ruins stand today. This area is world-renown as some of the best
naturally preserved cliff dwellings in the world, occupied during the period between 1200 and 1300 A.D.
Some of the largest cliff dwellings in North America, the main ruin runs a
quarter mile long, and originally held over 100 rooms as a three story
Because we know so little about the Sierra Ancha cliff dwellings, it
is extremely important to preserve and protect anything you may see during
your wilderness visit.