Entertainment Magazine: Tucson: Sabino Canyon

Sabino Canyon- oasis in the Tucson desert

Nestled in the southeastern foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, just northeast of Tucson, Arizona the desert spawns an oasis called Sabino Canyon.

Sabino Canyon is one of Tucson's most popular sites to visit and revisit with trails, a shuttle, picnic facilities and plenty of nature all year round.

Sabino Canyon shuttle runs to top again

Sabino Canyon Tucson Arizona

The Sabino Canyon shuttle has tram service to the top of the road. The devastating flood in July 2006 that wiped out the major roadway is now repaired. Visitors can also now walk the length of the road to the last stop known as Shuttle Stop No. 9.

The 45-minute narrated shuttle tour starts at 9:00 a.m. until the last ride at 4:30 p.m. These guided tours run every half hour from the Visitor's Center. Passenger fees are $8 for adults 13 and older. Children ages 5-12 are $4 and under 2 are free.

Rattlesnake Canyon Shuttle Stop No. 1: The rest room has been redesigned as a "green rest room" - low-flush, no power, handicap accessible. The shuttle stop is also handicaped-accessible now. A picnic site and accessible route from the shuttle stop were also built.

Shuttle Stop No. 8: a new handicapped-accessible rest room is now open. A drinking fountain and benches are also added.

The Sabino Canyon

By Kim LaSota
Entertainment Magazine

Sabino Canyon is to be enjoyed by all who visit. The desert, creeks, falls; mountain ridges, and riparian woodland areas make up this recreation area.

"Sabino Canyon is an ecological gem, where the average visitor can get first rate exposure to the unique Sonoran Desert." This, said Craig Anderson, former Sabino Canyon shuttle driver, is the greatest thing about the area.

The canyon itself has been around for about six million years- the work of years of erosion caused by runoff from the Santa Catalinas. The erosion· continues today, though the canyon may not look like it is changing.

Sabino was first visited as a picnic area in about 1885. The New Deal in the 1930's provided money to work on Sabino's availability as a recreation area. The stone bridges and picnic tables that exist today are originally from that era.

According to Sarah Davis, Forest Service interpretive staff o[ficer, Sabino Canyon is a place for both active and passive activities.

People with all types of interests utilize Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. Hiking, biking, power walking, evening runs, picnics, guided nature tours, and bird watching are only some of the activities that happen in the canyon. People who don't have much time or the physical ability to walk into the canyon or those who just want a relaxing view may take r advantage of the shuttle.

Sabino offers an opportunity for large group activities. "It's an area where on any given day a person may stumble across a movie set," said John Able of the Forest Service.

In fact, "Tombstone" and "Geronimo" were both filmed there in July 1993. One scene in "Geronimo" included 200 extras (local people) in a battle scene, said Able. Last October, "Posse" with Mario Van Peebles was filmed at the canyon.

"Sabino Canyon is under so many pressures," said Lazaroff who formed a group called the Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists - a group dedicated to the preservation and study of Sabino.

"As the city grows to Sabino's borders, so many people want to have it become a city park. " Tucsonans shoul d resi st thi s move and continue walking out of the city into the canyon, and enjoying nature.

The canyon is part of the Coronado National Forest and includes the Pusch Ridge Wilderness Area. Overnight camping ana backpacking is allowed in the wilderness area, but not in the canyon itself.

Reprinted from Entertainment Magazine, October 1993

Getting Around Sabino Canyon


Map of Sabino Canyon Print out a cool satellite map of the Sabino Canyon park and hiking areas.

Hiking Sabino Canyon

Hiking Sabino Canyon tips about hiking the area. Shuttle information, Sabino Canyon Visitors Center and the Catalina Mountains Pass.

History of Sabino Canyon

Twelve thousand years ago, Colombian mammoth roamed Sabino Canyon and the Catalina Mountains. About 1,200 A.D., the Hohokam Indians placed irrigation dams in the flowing creek. Read more about the history of Tucson and the Catalina Mountains.

Sabino Canyon Weather

National Weather Service forecast for Sabino Canyon weather. Includes a detailed 7 day forecast, detailed weather map and point forecast for  32.33°N 110.8°W (Elev. 2995 ft).

Visit Mt. Lemmon

Sabino Canyon Web Site

Sabino Canyon Details

Sabino Canyon is open 24 hours a day. The cost is $5 a day per visit or $20 for an annual pass. Passes can be purchased at the Visitor's Center.

The Sabino Canyon Visitor's Center is open from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. when the last shuttle departs. Call the Visitor's Center at (520) 749-8700

Santa Catalina Ranger District

5700 N. Sabino Canyon Rd., Tucson, AZ 85750

The Ranger Station and Visitors Center is located on the northeast corner of Sunrise Boulevard and Sabino Canyon Road at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.

Office hours are 8:00am to 4:30pm, Monday-Friday and 8:30am to 4:30pm, Saturday-Sunday. The phone numbers above are staffed every day of the year, except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Tucson Entertainment Magazine

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The story of the Arizona Gold Rush in the Santa Catalina Mountains

Jewelry and Rock Art from Mt. Lemmon Mines

Cody StoneFlint Carter is one of the few artists who create their entire work - from finding the stones, cutting, polishing and fabricating. All jewelry and art work materials are mined from Mt. Lemmon and the Santa Catalina Mountains. Read about Flint Carter's work, the legend of the Iron Door Mine and other stories of the Old Southwest. Call Flint at 520-289-4566 or email [email protected].

Climbers Guide To Sabino Canyon And Mount Lemmon Highway

by John Steiger (Author)

Sabino Canyon: The Life of a Southwestern Oasis (Paperback)

by David Wentworth Lazaroff (Author)

• Paperback: 119 pages
• Publisher: University of Arizona Press (March 1993)

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