About Saddle Mountain

Saddle Mountain is a volcanic upthrust that contains unique archaeological sites, wildlife habitat, interpretive geology, and dramatic scenery. Recognized by travelers for thousands of years, Saddle Mountain is a distinctive landmark located on the fringe of metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona–50 miles west of downtown. The mountain towers 2,000 feet above the Harquahala Plain at an altitude of 3,037 feet above sea level.

Saddle Mountain and the Palo Verde Hills region share a history spanning thousands of years of prehistoric cultures that inhabited the deserts of western Arizona. Three converging washes provided the Palo Verde Hills with an oasis-like environment. There, Winters Wash funneled water through the Palo Verde foothills creating lush stands of mesquite, ironwood, and palo verde trees. This environment provided sources of food and cover. Plus, both areas offered opportunities for hunting deer and bighorn sheep along with smaller game animals. An overview of cultures associated with this Saddle Mountain site stretch from Middle Archaic traditions of the Amargosa and Cochise to the later Patayan, Hakataya, and Hohokam to more recent historic Yavapai and lastly, to the historic Anglo American.

This distinctive landform contains crucial desert bighorn sheep habitat that has been augmented by a water tank developed through the cooperative efforts of the Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and the BLM. Lush foliage creates a habitat valuable to a range of wildlife in the Palo Verde Hills, including the desert tortoise and approximately 162 other species. Threatened species within the area include Gila monster, kit fox, cooper hawk, and sharp-shinned hawk. Additionally, prairie falcons and golden eagles are found in the upper reaches of Saddle Mountain.

The volcanic upthrust of the mountain has created a highly visual and educational example of geologic forces. Cliffs, spires, and buttes tinted by andesite, rhyolite, and basalt result in magnificent scenery. Another result of Saddle Mountain’s complex volcanic history has been ‘basketfulls’ of colorful minerals scattered the northern skirt of the mountain. However, the once plentiful fire agate, chalcedony, and calcite “desert roses” have now become scarce. The mountain’s pyroclastic rocks, distilled by eons of differential erosion, account for the dramatic scenery and multicolored strata that we see today. Complex geology makes Saddle Mountain simply beautiful.

  • News & Announcements

    • September 29, 2018
      The Plant Atlas Project of Arizona (PAPAZ), is a statewide partnership between the Arizona Native Plant Society, Grand Canyon Trust, Desert ...  Read more >
    • September 29, 2018
      Annual Planning Meeting
      Peggy Sites hosted our annual planning meeting at her house September 15, 2018. Those in attendance were President Paul Roetto,  Secretary ...  Read more >