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 Guthook Guides Smartphone 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.
In 2019, the ATA installed this rainwater catchment to provide a reliable water source between passage 16 and 17, one of the most remote and driest segments of the AZT. 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 a designated bear box. Those locations are listed here. Stashing water bottles in random locations is problematic for many reasons, including sunlight causing leaching of chemicals from low density polyethylene into the water, which can make you very ill; wildlife will bite, chew, peck, smash and kick through the bottles to get to the water; detracts from a National Scenic Trail experience when there are plastic bottles hidden throughout the trail corridor.
- 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.
- Bear boxes are for caching water only. Never leave food or other supplies in them.