Explore Beautiful Bonita Creek and the Pothole & Turtle Mountain Roadless Areas

This is a past event

2 people went

Location image of event venue


Join us for a two day trip northeast of Safford for hiking & camping opportunities along the riparian area of Bonita Creek and to learn more about how you can participate in the Bureau of Land Management's Safford Field Office Travel Management Plan and how it relates to the continued protection & expansion of the nearby Turtle Mountain and Pothole Roadless Areas.

Bonita Creek is a perennial stream which flows into the Gila River, lined with large sycamore and cottonwood trees which provide shade in the canyon bottom and habitat for nearly 200 species of birds, including the golden eagle, zone-tailed hawk and yellow-billed cuckoo. The creek itself is home to five species of native fish, including critical habitat for the spikedace and loach minnow. Beavers are active in Bonita Creek, and numerous beaver dams can be seen in the canyon bottom. Historic cabins as well as prehistoric archaeological sites can be found along Bonita Creek and the adjacent Roadless Areas.

The Turtle Mountain and Pothole Roadless Areas are large areas of public land which do not contain developed roads, contain significant ecological value, and meet the characteristics for Wilderness designation. Your participation in the Travel Management process is essential to help continue protecting these areas from roads being established within them, as well as the opportunity to expand them even further by closure of adjacent roads.


Riverview Campground, Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area, 9 AM, May 11

From Safford, head east on US 191 for 5 miles. Turn left on Sanchez Road and follow it for 8 miles. Following signage for the Gila Box Riparian NCA and Bonita Creek, turn left onto Bonita Creek Road and follow it for 3.8 miles. Turn right at the turn for the Riverview Campground, leaving pavement, and follow this road less than a mile to the campground itself.

The roads are almost entirely paved and suitable for passenger cars.

GPS Coordinates:[masked], [masked]
Google Maps: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Riverview+Campground+(recgovnpsdata)/@32.8875245,-109.482144,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x86d801369b33ea1d:0xe145f705d1295097!8m2!3d32.88752!4d-109.47995


We will be camping overnight at the BLM's Riverview Campground near the Gila River. This is a developed campground with restrooms and picnic tables. Camping is $5 per night per site.


Depending on conditions and participants' ability, on day one we will be walking and wading up the riparian canyon bottom of Bonita Creek from a nearby picnic area. This will involve creek/river crossings, as well as walking in areas with beaver dams, so plan to get your feet wet and wade in sections.

On day two, if the weather is appropriate, we will drive north along the West Bonita Creek Rim Road to view the Pothole and Turtle Mountain Roadless Areas and hike on the historic Safford–Morenci Trail. This drive would involve rougher unpaved roads. The easier hike option here is about 2 miles round trip, hiking into the center of the Pothole Roadless Area before returning the way we came, with an option of going further for anyone interested. Those wanting a longer hike can instead hike a section along Johnny Canyon back towards Bonita Creek within the Turtle Mountain Roadless Area. This is an intermittent trail that passes through the bottom of a slot canyon and is less maintained, rougher, & longer.


- Please provide your own meals, snacks & water/cold drinks for two days
- If hiking, bring 3 – 4 liters of water per day
- Day pack
- Hiking shoes/sandals and pants/shorts you don't mind getting wet
- Sun protection (sun screen, sunglasses, hat)
- Camping gear: sleeping bag & pad, tent, flashlight, stove/cooking gear, plate/bowl, eating utensils, toiletries, first aid kit
- Optional: hiking poles, binoculars


If you have any questions about this event, contact Jonathan Patt at [masked].