Yellow Medicine Butte Proposed Wilderness

Location: Within the Gila Bend Mountains National Conservation Area
Size: 18,412 acres

The Yellow Medicine Butte proposed wilderness unit includes a number of volcanic mesas and ridges that rise 1,500 feet to surround a portion of the Dendora Valley Plain. The topography thus encloses a large area around the Fourth of July wash, which lies in the central part of this unit. The unit is bounded by roads on all sides, but forms a critical linkage for wildlife migrating to and from Signal Mountain and Woolsey Peak wilderness areas to the southeast.

Wilderness Protection

As part of the larger Gila Bend Mountains National Conservation Area (NCA), the Yellow Medicine Butte designated wilderness would create a strong core of ecologically significant protected public lands — for human access, cultural enrichment, and wildlife sustainability—just a stone’s throw from millions of people in metropolitan Phoenix and its West Valley.


One of the most significant supplemental values is the unroaded habitat that East Clanton Hills, Cortez Peak, Columbus Peak, Yellow Medicine Butte, and Dixie Peak proposed wilderness units provide for wildlife. These units inside the Western Gila Bend Mountains complex have the necessary merits without supplemental values to meet the intent of the wilderness act, but the wildlife habitat that they provide is critical to maintaining wildlife populations in the area and connectivity throughout the Sonoran Desert region. Two particularly iconic Sonoran Desert species can be found in this unit — or moving through it: desert bighorn sheep and desert tortoise use the lush washes that connect the sloping bajadas and the higher peaks of Yellow Medicine Butte’s neighboring units. Other species such as Gila monsters, mule deer, and mountain lions also frequent these critical connective lands between Signal Mountain and Woolsey Peak wilderness areas and Eagletail Mountains Wilderness.


The Yellow Medicine Butte unit “generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable,” as outlined in section 2(c) of The Wilderness Act of 1964. There are numerous opportunities for primitive, unconfined recreation, such as hunting, hiking, horseback riding, bird watching, and camping—with adequate access via car off of Agua Caliente Road. Yellow Medicine Butte offers various levels of hiking, from flat walking in the bajadas, to rock scrambling on the many peaks and ridges.

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