Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, Tucson, AZ

The first visit to Tucson for Gerry and me was in October of 2001.  We had planned a trip to Albuquerque, NM to attend the Balloon Fiesta and then on to Las Vegas to attend a food show with Barbara & Henry.  After these two stops we decided to check out the Tucson area to see if we could find a nice RV park to stay in for the winter in the future.

The cost of camping in the Florida Keys became so expensive that we decided in 2006 to make the drive to Tucson after once again attending the Balloon Fiesta.  We had heard about Sabino Canyon then and after we settled in we headed there.  Oooopss.  They had a flood in the canyon the previous summer and it was closed down to tourists.  It took them 2 years to repair all the damage and reopen the canyon.  

It was on our "bucket list" to visit, however we always seemed to have an excuse to not visit the canyon.  Well, the day finally arrived and we went with friends Debbie & Dale to check out the place.  They wanted to hike the canyon and we decided the tram ride was more within our limits so we told them to hike and we would take the tram ride and wait for them.  The day we picked for the trip was very hot with temps in the high 90s and they decided to take the tram ride with us.  Good decision on their part.

Rather than write up about the Sabino Canyon, I copied from a pamphlet the description below, plus included a link to the complete information regarding the canyon.

Nestled in the foothills of Arizona's southern Catalina Mountains 12 miles from downtown Tucson, the oasis of Catalina Canyon is one of the most scenic spectacles in Arizona. A paved road runs 3.8 miles into the canyon, crossing 9 stone bridges over Sabino Creek. It begins at an altitude of 2,800 feet and rises to 3,300 feet at its end, a popular drop-off in summer because of the swimming holes at Hutch's Pool and The Crack.

Winding through the canyon, visitors who follow the road have views of the creek, the riparian vegetation, magnificent Saguaros on the canyon walls, and towering rock formations. Picnic areas are scattered along the road, as are trailheads leading to other sections of the National Forest or paralleling the road. Within the canyon, visitors travel by foot or horseback. Bicycles are permitted before 9am or after 5pm any day except Wednesdays and Saturdays .

The only motorized vehicles allowed on the 3.8-mile paved road that leads through the canyon are the Sabino Canyon/Bear Canyon shuttles and Park Service vehicles. Ramadas at the entrance give canyon visitors a place to sit and watch the wildlife while waiting for the shuttle.

General Information

Seasons / Hours

  • Park: Sunrise to sunset, daily
  • Visitor Center: 8:00 am to 4:30 PM daily 

Sabino Canyon Article

 We saw this crested cactus a couple blocks from Sabino Canyon and Gerry made me turn around to get a picture of it.  She does enjoy seeing them and getting photos.

 There are mile markers on the canyon road to give people hope when they are walking back from the end of the road.  I was surprised to see the number of families walking down the road.  It was quite hot that day and the sun was merciless. 

The tram makes several stops along the trail and passengers can get off, rest, look around, hike or whatever before hopping back on the tram.  Debbie and Dale took the opportunity to hop off near the end of the ride.  They spent a while exploring a bit more before returning to the base, where we were waiting for them.  Shade and benches were welcome.

 There were numerous crossings of the creek running down the center of the canyon.  I would have loved to get out and soak in the cool waters, but I didn't have a bathing suit.

Nice pool in the creek

 There are some very steep mountains on each side of the canyon.  The hiking trails are numerous and many mountain lions have been seen in the area.  I wouldn't want to meet up with one of them unless I had some protection.  They do keep the deer population in check so I guess that is a good thing.

 A small dam has been turned into a base for the road in the canyon.   The water looked very clear and inviting.

 These two young children came prepared for the hike with their water bottles and flip flops to wade in the creek.  It looked like they were enjoying themselves.

 Then, there was another nice clear pool on the way up the canyon.  I didn't see any fish in the water, but I imagine there are trout in the stream.

Our road in the distance along with the creek

 This group of people were swimming and enjoying the water on our way to the top and still there when we came back later.

Entrance to the park
 I would have loved to hike the canyon 20 years ago before my two knees gave out.  Now we enjoyed the tram tour and were able to see a lot.  

If you are ever in Tucson and have the time take the walking tour or tram tour of the canyon.  It is beautiful and wild.

1 comment:

  1. We love Sabino Canyon! We did one of most memorable hikes there in Telephone trail. Long, steep, on the edge of the mountain but beautiful.