Wasteland Dome is located in the Eastern Cochise Stronghold of the spectacular Dragoon Mountains of southeastern Arizona. The granite dome is sandwiched by Entrance Dome to its northeast and Out-Of-Towners Dome to its southwest. As a result, it does not appear as a distinct formation when viewed from most vantage points. In fact, deep gullies separate the three domes. For the rock climber, it’s the dome’s 600-foot east face (home to The Wasteland route) that draws attention. The granite here is of typical Cochise variety: solid, sharp, green-lichen covered, and generously sprinkled with very positive “chickenheads” and some “alligator skin” plates. All these features make for some fun climbing.
Information below was compiled from personal experience supplemented with cherry picked information from Green’s and Kerry’s guidebooks.
From The East: From I10, take exit 331 and drive 17 miles south on US191. In Sunsites, turn right onto Ironwood Road. At ~7 miles from the junction, you’ll pass the Coronado National Forest boundary sign followed by a cattlegurad.
From The West: Head east out of Tucson on I10 for approximately 60 miles to exit 318, Dragoon, AZ. Got through Dragoon resetting your odometer at the post office. At about 7.5 miles, make a right onto Cochise Stronghold Road. Follow it for several miles till it ends at a signed T-junction. Turn right here (onto Ironwood Road) following directions for East Stronghold. At <4 miles (I don’t recall the exact distance – if you go too far, you’ll reach the NF Campground at end of the road) from this junction, you’ll pass the Coronado National Forest boundary sign followed by a cattlegurad.
And Then: Make first right just after the cattleguard. Follow this for several hundred feet to the first left turn off (the left turn off is within sight of the last turn you made). After making this left, the road ends within several hundred feet. Park here (good campsites here; don’t make this last left and continue straight for more free camping at end of road in <1 mile).
The Hike: Pick up one of the obvious and well-beaten trails that initially head NW shadowing the road for several hundred yards. The maze of trails soon converges and the trail turns SW into a valley. You pass beneath Entrance Dome on the right off in the distance. Follow some cairns and a well-beaten trail for about 20-30 minutes from the parking spot. At this point, the brush on your right should open up and you soon come to an obvious junction in the trail. Turn right here and head up a prominent wash with views of Wasteland Dome’s east face looming above. Hiking and one or two class 3 steps bring you to the start of The Wasteland at the foot of the east face.
None for this area – neither for parking, nor for climbing (or hiking). However, some other formations in the Stronghold are subject to nesting closures from January till summer. Check with rangers.
When To Climb
This is southern Arizona – needless to say summers are probably unbearable. Winters are generally pleasant (50-60 degrees F) and generally dry (though stuff happens and we did get rained out on one of our three visits there).
Good quality free camping is available at the trailhead described above. Additionally, more can be had at the end of the above mentioned access road (see Getting There section).
If you insist on contributing to the NFS monetarily, follow above mentioned Ironwood Road to its end at an established campground. Self issue payment box and toilets available.
As a last resort, almost endless free camping opportunities exist on NF land in the West Stronghold. See Whale Dome page for directions (can camp almost anywhere along the dirt access road used to reach Whale Dome). Beware that driving time to the West Stronghold is > 1 hour!
The good folks in the Summit Hut outdoor store in Tucson (5045 East Speedway) might be your best bet for climbing-specific information. The store is located on E. Speedway Blvd. about 15 minutes from Interstate 10. Their phone number and website are:
For general (non-climbing) area information, try the Douglas Ranger District 520-364-3468.
Wasteland Dome is featured in two climbing guidebooks currently in print: Rock Climbing Arizona by Stuart Green and Backcountry Rockclimbing In Southern Arizona by Bob Kerry. Both Green and Kerry provide nice photo topo overlays for The Wasteland. Green’s directions on how to find the formation are better while Kerry provides and excellent topo of the descent route. Additionally, though both describe only one route on this formation, Kerry also describes two variations to this route. We have seen some bolts off in the distance while climbing The Wasteland suggesting that other unpublished routes exist on the formation.
(1) Nice set of photos with some informative captions: here.
....more when I find them.