Skip to main content

U.S. Forest Service

Santa Teresa Mountains

Santa Teresa Mountains banner scene. Photo by Brett Tucker at

Hiking trail in an oak-pine forest. This is the view looking down the ridgetop of Cottonwood Mountain, which at 7,420 feet, is the highest peak in the Santa Teresa Wilderness. Photo by Brett Tucker at

Holdout Canyon. Holdout Canyon in the heart of the Santa Teresa Wilderness is a magnificent jumble of smooth granite boulders. Photo by Brett Tucker at

Small stream in a pine forest. Pine forests are found in a few protected locations at the higher elevations in the Santa Teresa Mountains. Photo by Brett Tucker at

High Point: Mount Turnbull, 8,282 feet

Elevation Change from Base: 4,466 feet

Vegetation at Highest Elevations: Douglas-fir–mixed conifer forests and pine forests

The Santa Teresa Mountains are a small rugged range with very limited road access. The northern half of the range and the highest peak, Mount Turnbull, are on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. The highest peak in the southern part of the range is Cottonwood Mountain at 7,420 feet. A stand of Douglas-fir grows on the sheltered north slope of this mountain and ponderosa pine occupies some of the higher ridges. Otherwise, most of the higher elevation vegetation is open evergreen oak woodlands and shrub thickets.

Special Places:

  • Santa Teresa Wilderness: This wilderness of 26,780 acres features deep canyons, rocky outcrops and bald summits. It is remote and little visited. Many of the trails are only routes kept open by cowboys driving their livestock. The remoteness of this mountain range makes it good habitat for animals like black bear and mountain lion that need large undisturbed areas.

Special Plants:

  • Penstemon discolor
  • Polemonium pauciflorum ssp. hinckleyi