Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sabino Canyon Recreational Area, Arizona

This is a fantastic place to get your hiking feet "wet" so to speak, in the desert. This gem of a nature spot is an oasis, (really!) in the Sonoran Desert. Sabino Canyon is located within the Coronado National Forest. It is a canyon with steep rock cliffs and foothills covered with unique desert vegetation and is next to something called a riparian corridor... which is a fancy way of saying a watery ecosystem exists nearby. You can walk, jog, hike several different trails that are not difficult, ride a tram up quite a ways and get some very interesting information about the canyon, study wildlife, and take fantastic photos while you are there. The C.C.C. workers built 3.8 miles of bridges and road up into the Santa Catalina Mountains in the 1930's. The roads are still used today but for hikers, walkers and the trams only. The canyon is about an hour and fifteen minutes from Casa Grande, and is located 30 minutes outside Tucson, AZ. There is a 5.00 entrance fee, but if you have the senior pass, it's free. It was 8.00 for each of us to ride the tram partway up the mountain. You can get off the tram at designated stops on the way up or down, and get back on again if you like. We rode to the end of the line, then started off on a trail that went beyond the "easy" hike. We hiked at least a couple of miles before turning around and coming back down. At one of the stops there was a little sandy place almost like a beach where you could wade in the waters and cool your hot little tootsies off! I was dying to see if the water was cold, but I didn't hop off the tram and kept riding.....

We had an excellent guide by the name of Bill O'Driscoll who told us lots of interesting things about the canyon. We learned that the green trees that are totally green, bark and all, are called palo verde trees. I've seen those lining the streets of Casa Grande and thought they were very interesting looking! He told us the saguaro (suh-war-o) cactus grows only an inch a YEAR in dry climates. So when you are looking at the tall cacti growing in the desert, you are looking at cacti over 100 years old! The first flowers don't come out on them until they are between 36 and 69 years old, depending on how much moisture they get.  The first branch or "arm" of this type of cactus doesn't show up until they are about 55-100 years old! Talk about a "late bloomer"! I don't feel so bad now......

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We saw a roadrunner again in the parking lot! He (or she) apparently hangs out around the area....

It was a great trip to the canyon today..we got a late start this morning so by the time we finished checking everything out, it was about a three hour trip to get there, explore, and head on home back to Casa Grande. It was really worth it and the views were just amazing in this oasis in the desert. We could have easily spent lots more time hiking and exploring the canyon...maybe we will on another day.....see you in school tomorrow!  


  1. Oh yes! Love Sabino! Have you been to the Sonora Desert Museum? Awesome. I also love Madeira Canyon south of Tucson for all the hummingbirds. Arizona has something like 12 or 13 varieties and I saw many different varieties there.

  2. Thanks for the tips..we are looking for more places to visit so that sounds really wonderful! Thanks for reading and sharing!

  3. Looks like a great day you had there. You are so lucky seeing the road runners so often. I have only seen 2 or 3 in the wild, and they always get away before I can get my camera out.

  4. Thanks for all the information on the SW. We are heading out that direction. Love the Roadrunner picture. They really are beautiful.