Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Beautiful Sabino Canyon: Put it on your Tucson to-do list

Sabino Canyon, easily accessible from the more urban areas of Tucson, is a must-see during your stay in southern Arizona. Sabino Canyon is a part of the Coronado National Forest. It lies in the eastern foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

You’ll enter Sabino Canyon after driving through some scenic urban areas. If you are fortunate to stay at one of the hillside resorts such as Loew’s Ventana Canyon Resort, you’ll be just a short drive from the canyon.

Sabino Canyon is home to towering canyon walls, huge Saguaros and many species of desert plant and birds. It’s a beautiful place to visit.

Visitors Center and Bookstore
The Sabino Canyon Visitors Center should be your first stop. There you can pick up maps, learn about trails, the shuttle schedule and get ready for your trip into the Canyon. After your visit, it is a great place to pick up a souvenir.

There are extensive hiking trails in Sabino Canyon.
However, I stuck close to the road and enjoyed beautiful views.
Shuttle
An open-air shuttle takes visitors into the canyon. Hikers can get off at any stop and enjoy a day on the trails. Others may enjoy riding the tram to the end, getting off and taking photos before returning to the Visitors Center on the bus. The shuttle cost is: $10.00 adults, $5.00 children 3-12.  Children 2 and under are free. For additional information about the shuttles Sabino Canyon Tours provide please go to www.sabinocanyon.com

Walking the Road into Sabino Canyon
We opted to begin our time in Sabino Canyon by walking a mile or so up the paved road. It’s a great way to get into the canyon without worrying about rocky trails or… mountain lions!  Many people walk this road. It is especially enjoyable because the shuttle is the only vehicle you’ll encounter on your walk. It is mostly flat and paved. The main road ascends from 2,800 to 3,300 feet and crosses Sabino Creek over 9 stone bridges. It is a favorite route for both hikers and bicyclists. If you walk the entire road, it is 3.8 miles up and 3.8 miles back (most take the shuttle one way).

Hiking Trails
Hiking trails range from easy to difficult. When we were at the Canyon, the Telephone Line Trail was recommended to us. This hike overlooks Sabino Creek. The panorama of Cottonwoods lining the creek bed below is beautiful during the fall when the leaves change to harvest gold. Get off at tram stop #9 and walk down to stop #1. Trail Information

Heed the warnings!
Mountain Lions
Yes, Mountain Lions, and other wildlife, have been sighted in Sabino Canyon. There is some concern because the Mountain Lions have been active during daylight. Mountain Lions at Sabino Canyon hours and have stalked people. They suggest that if you are hiking a trail, you do not hike alone, you carry a hiking stick, avoid hiking below cliffs or close to brushy areas where cats may lurk. Do not hike at dawn, dusk or after dark and keep your children close-by. My advice? Walk the road. It’s a beautiful route.

Recommendation
Sabino Canyon is only 30 minutes from downtown Tucson. It is a beautiful, easily accessed Canyon with a nice road and bridges built by the CCC. The creek that runs through the canyon provides added interest and attracts birds. It is a very scenic area and will provide a marvelous opportunity for photographers.

Enjoy the cliffs, mountains and saguaros of Sabino Canyon
More Information:
Fees are $5 per car and are collected as you enter the parking area. Sabino Canyon is open 24 hours/day, year-round. The Sabino Canyon Visitor Center and Bookstore is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Address: 5900 North Sabino Canyon Road, Tucson, AZ 85750
Phone Number: 520 749 2861


Photo Credit: Elizabeth R. Rose