Cluff Ranch Wildlife Area
Cluff Ranch Wildlife Area (CRWA) is 788 acres and is composed of a variety of habitats, including a ten-acre fishing pond, riparian stream, mesquite bosque, agricultural fields managed for wildlife, and desert scrub community. Cluff Ranch was acquired in 1949 through a property transfer with the General Services Administration. Cluff Ranch has a history of conservation reaching back to 1880 when the property was first homesteaded.
Throughout the years, the Cluff Ranch has been a small community with a school, Soil Conservation Service plant material center, Safford National Wildlife Refuge, and today it is the Cluff Ranch Wildlife Area. It sits at an elevation of 3500 feet on the north aspect if the Pinaleno Mountains in southeastern Arizona.
Pond 3 has been drained and is currently closed to vehicle access and camping. There is a large rehabilitation project taking place at Cluff Ranch Wildlife Area involving Pond 3, Pond 1, and the water delivery system. Pond three has been drained to replace a malfunctioning valve in the dam, dredge out material and install new fish habitat. Extensive work is also being done on the water delivery system to both ponds. The project will restore full functionality to Pond 3, restore Pond one and establish new moist soil units for migratory waterfowl. Pond three will be refilled, re-opened, and stocked with fish as soon as conditions allow.
Pond 3 has been drained for upcoming rehabilitation work and is closed to motor vehicle access. The camping spots and bathroom at Pond 3 are also closed. There is not any fishing, boating, or swimming opportunity at Cluff Ranch Wildlife Area at this time. Recreational opportunities will be restored as soon as conditions permit. Camping spots are available at the Berry Patch and near Smith Pond.
Camping: Overnight public camping is allowed in designated areas only, for no more than 14 days within a 45-day period. There is one bathroom at Pond Three and picnic tables at several locations around the pond.
Boating:Pond Three has a boat launch and a fishing pier. Only non-motorized or electric motor boats are permitted. Swimming is permitted in Pond Three.
Fishing: The Pond Three supports a productive warm water fishery including largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill sunfish, channel catfish, and black bullhead. The pond is also stocked with catchable rainbow trout during the winter months. White amur carp have been stocked in the pond to control aquatic weeds, and are catch and release only.
Hunting: Portions open to all hunting in season as permitted under R12-4-304 and R12-4-318, except the wildlife area is closed to the discharge of rifled firearms. Posted portions located at Pond 3 and Ranch headquarters are closed to all hunting. Game Management Unit area 31.
Hiking: There is a hiking trail along Ash Creek and Pond Three always provides watchable wildlife. The Arizona Grand Enchantment trail passes through Cluff Ranch on to Coronado National Forest to Mt. Graham.
- Open fires allowed in designated areas only.
- Wood collecting limited to dead and down material, for onsite noncommercial use only.
- Motorized vehicle travel permitted on designated roads, trails, or areas only, except as permitted under R12-4-110(H). This subsection does not apply to Department authorized vehicles or law enforcement, fire response, or other emergency vehicles.
Wildlife observed in the area
Amphibians and Reptiles: Amphibians and reptiles include gopher snake, diamondback rattlesnake, king snake, terrestrial garter snake, collared lizard, bullfrog.
Birds: Noteworthy documented or probable bird species include bald eagle wintering at Pond Three, morning and white wing doves, yellow billed cuckoo, red tail hawk, gambel’s quail, road runner and gray hawk.
Mammals: Mammals documented on CRWA include whitetail and mule deer, javelina, coati, badger, jack rabbit, skunk, fox, bobcats, coyote and raccoon.
Fish: Pond#3 is stocked with catchable Rainbow Trout in the winter months and has several species of warm water fish largemouth bass, black crappie, and catfish thrive in the pond .
Plants and Vegetation: Habitats include riparian, mesquite bosque, 15-acres of open water and wildlife agriculture.
Directions: Located on the northside of Pinaleno mountains in Graham County, seven miles south of Pima, AZ, at 2002 south Cluff Ranch Road.
Take Hwy 70 West to Pima, turn South on Main Street, follow the signs to Cluff Ranch Wildlife Area. The Wildlife Area is located along Ash Creek in Graham County, about 7 miles south of the town of Pima.