Water and how to find it along the Arizona Trail is extremely important. An excellent source of information about water sources and their current condition is available through the AZT Water Report Online. Plan to filter your water using mechanical, chemical, ultraviolet or boiling systems since contamination from cattle and other animals is common.
When you’re on the trail, we highly recommend using the FarOut app which includes comments on water source reliability and quality from recent trail users. You are encouraged to leave your own notes on the app so the trail users behind you know what to expect.
There is typically enough natural water along the AZT to sustain your adventure, and with careful planning and a willingness to carry a day or two supply for long stretches, you’ll find all you need in nature.
Since 2019, the ATA has installed two rainwater collectors to provide reliable water sources along some of the most remote and driest segments of the AZT. The catchment pictured above is located in a very remote location between passages 16 and 17, just 1/4-mile from the AZT. The other collector was installed at Freeman Road Trailhead between passages 14 and 15 in 2023. Please visit our Remote Rainwater Collector Page to learn more about this impressive structure and to see analysis of water samples obtained from the collector, provided by the University of Arizona’s Project Harvest Team in partnership with the Sonora Environmental Research Institute (SERI).
For anyone interested in caching water in advance, please follow these guidelines and Leave No Trace ethics:
- Cache water inside AZT water cache boxes ONLY. AZT water cache box locations are listed here. Water left outside cache boxes can be harmful to consumers as sun exposure causes chemicals from plastic bottles to leak into the water. Also, wildlife may try to access water left outside cache boxes. These animals may bite, chew, kick, or smash water bottles in an effort to retrieve its contents. This is not only harmful to wildlife but also destroys water caches that trail users may be relying on. Additionally, empty bottles left outside cache boxes create litter which damages the ecosystem, threatens wildlife, and takes away from the National Scenic Trail experience.
- Mark your bottles with your name (or trail name) and anticipated date you’ll reach that location. Unmarked bottles are for anyone, and are often left by trail angels.
- Carry out your empties! There is no trash service along the AZT, so the bottles you cache should be crushed and carried out by you. Same goes for bottles left by well-meaning trail angels — if you use all the water from a bottle, carry the empty to the nearest trash can and dispose of it properly.
- Water cache boxes are for caching water only. Do not cache food, supplies, or anything else (except water) in water cache boxes or anywhere else on the AZT. Leaving food and supplies anywhere on the trail is potentially harmful to the wildlife it attracts. Human food can be directly damaging to animals who ingest it and can also lead to habituation. Habituated wildlife are relatively unfearful of humans and this places them, and the humans they encounter, at risk. Additionally, leaving food, water, or supplies along the trail creates litter which damages the ecosystem, threatens wildlife, and takes away from the National Scenic Trail experience.