Maricopa Mountains
Sonoran Desert National Monument • Arizona
May 1, 2010


The Maricopa Mountains are a smallish desert range running east of Gila Bend in southern Arizona. In 2000, much of this land became protected as part of the Sonoran Desert National Monument. Even 10 years later, it's a very basic set-up: no visitor's center or real tourist infrastructure. Which is just fine. As the cities of Goodyear, Buckeye and even Gila Bend grow, protecting this mountain and desert region is a great idea for well into the future.

We've driven through the area along State Route AZ-238 between Maricopa (the town) and Gila Bend, but only recent;ly did I get a chance to explore it on foot. I was accompanied by Marvin Bittinger, a professor of Mathematics from Purdue who has written many mathematics text books, and with whom I have worked with on the 10th edition of his long-popular Calculus and Its Applications. He was interested in seeing some desert landscapes, and I proposed this hike as a great chance to get some serious desert into our systems.

We arrived at the parking area off of AZ-238 (milepost 18-19, link). Our hike was an old road, closed to vehicles, marked as the "Boulders" staging area. We followed this good road northwesterly about 1.5 miles, bypassing a mound of volcanic rock, and coming to the boulders, an outcrop of large basalt (?) rocks just sticking up out of the desert floor. From here we went left (west) into a canyon, hiking to the road's end at a turn-around. Along the way Marv almost stepped on a baby diamondback rattler, lying in the trail sunning itself. It wasn't moving and not in a bad mood, apparently. Probably warming up from the morning's chill. The snake was about 10 inches long, maybe a year old. It looked healthy. On the hike out he was gone.

The hike out went well and we had a good time. The scenery is very nice, very stark desert scapes with close-by hills and distant big peaks. We were fortunate that the temperatures were cool, even for early May. It gets hot quick out this way.

Photos (Click to enlarge)


Hills in the Maricopa Mountains

Cactus Views


The Sierra Estrellas in back

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(c) 2010 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.