Upper Verde River Wildlife Area
The Upper Verde River Wildlife Area (UVRWA) is located in Yavapai County approximately 8 miles NE of Chino Valley, Arizona. The property is accessed via Verde Ranch Rd., 1 mile north of the town of Paulden, Arizona. Portions of the UVRWA north of the Verde River are in GMU 8 and portions South of the river are in GMU 19A. The property consists of 1152 acres of deeded land purchased by the Department. The UVRWA includes approximately three miles of the Upper Verde River, draining easterly from the confluence with Granite Creek to the Prescott National Forest boundary 3.5 miles downstream. The wildlife area includes associated riparian areas, floodplains, cliffs, and adjacent uplands. The diverse topography is dissected, ranging in elevation from 4,200 to 4,600 feet. Prominent cliffs rise 100 to 300 feet above the river in some segments.
Wildlife is abundant on the area and the lush riparian corridor provides an important migration corridor for numerous migratory bird species. The UVRWA has been designated as an Important Bird Area through Audubon’s IBA program. This stretch of the river was also historically home to one of the most diverse populations of native fish species in Arizona including the endangered spikedace, and this stretch of the river has been designated as Critical Habitat for this species by the USFWS.
Camping: Overnight public camping is prohibited.
Fishing: Open to all fishing as permitted under R12-4-207 and R12-4-301.
Hunting: 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 firearms within a one mile radius of visitor parking area. Game Management Unit 8 & 19A .
Hiking: Permitted throughout the wildlife area property boundary.
- No open fires.
- No firewood cutting or gathering.
- Motorized vehicle travel is not permitted. This subsection does not apply to Department authorized vehicles or law enforcement, fire department, or other emergency vehicles.
- All dogs must remain on leash except for hunting dogs during a legal open season.
Wildlife observed in the area
Wildlife is abundant on the area and the lush riparian corridor provides an important migration corridor for numerous migratory bird species. This stretch of the river was also historically home to one of the most diverse populations of native fish species in Arizona including the endangered spikedace, and this stretch of the river has been designated as Critical Habitat for this species by the USFWS.
Amphibians and Reptiles: Reptiles and amphibians documented include gopher snake, terrestrial garter snake, Arizona black rattlesnake, short-horned lizard, red spotted toad, lowland leopard frog, Mexican garter snake, and the Arizona toad.
Birds: The Wildlife Area has been designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) through the National Audubon Societies IBA program. Documented species include bald eagle, belted kingfisher, southwestern willow flycatcher, red-tailed hawk, peregrine falcon, yellow-billed cuckoo, common black hawk, and golden eagle.
Mammals: Big game species include mule deer and javelina. Elk and black bear use is infrequent, but have recently been observed in the area. Pronghorn, in low numbers, use the pinyon-juniper uplands that adjoin the Upper Verde River. Mountain lion occupy the riparian corridor and rugged side drainage.
Common predators and furbearers that inhabit the area include striped skunk, badger, beaver, coyote, gray fox, and bobcat.
Fish: Non-native fish found in surveys include yellow bullhead, red shiner, common carp, mosquitofish, green sunfish, and smallmouth bass. Native fish encountered during the same survey included Sonora sucker, desert sucker, and roundtail chub.
Critical habitat found along the Upper Verde River deemed essential for the recovery of spikedace and loach minnow was designated by the USFWS on April 25, 2000.
Plants and Vegetation: Riparian vegetation is characterized as mixed broadleaf deciduous, dominated by Arizona ash, boxelder, Arizona walnut, and netleaf hackberry. Tamarisk is occasionally interspersed with native tree species. Goodding’s willow, red willow, and Fremont cottonwood are also found. Low floodplain terraces are dominated by large stands of desert willow, while highest terraces are vegetated by velvet mesquite. The lower Granite Creek supports a well-developed narrowleaf cottonwood riparian forest.
Directions: From State Highway 89 in Paulden, take Verde Ranch Road east (USFS 635) approximately 1 mile. Make a sharp right, cross the railroad tracks and make a sharp left. After crossing the railroad tracks take the first dirt road to the right. Stay on this road for approximately 3 miles until you reach the Verde River canyon. Vehicle access is prohibited; the property is currently managed for walk-in access only.