Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sabino Canyon - Tucson's Natural Treasure

     One of the natural jewels of the Tucson area is Sabino Canyon.  It is a natural paradise that anyone who visits the Old Pueblo must take the time to visit and explore.  Sabino Canyon is very speical.

    The first 6 pictures are ours; the last 4 pictures were taken by Heidi Schewel, USDA Forest Service.  Here is a good link -

     Sabino Canyon, Tucson’s outdoor wonderland, is located along the southern slope of the sky island known as the Santa Catalina Mountains, a short 14 miles from the hustle and bustle of the old, downtown pueblo area of this historic Arizona city.    

     Sabino Canyon is Tucsonans’ most treasured natural playground with over 1 million annual visitors enjoying the canyon’s biking, jogging and hiking trails, cool mountain stream swimming holes and the diverse populations of plants and animals that make their home along the ever-flowing streams in this Sonoran Desert oasis.
     Sabino Canyon began forming some 12 million years ago along with the 20-mile long Santa Catalina range.  By 5 million BC the mountain building activity that created the four mountain ranges that surround Tucson ceased.  Modern Tucson sits atop thousands of feet of sediment, eroded from the Santa Catalinas and the other three nearby mountain ranges.
     No one know for sure where the genesis of the name “Sabino” came.  A favorite guess is that Sabino might have come for a Tucson rancher, Sabino Otero, who operated a ranch near the beautiful canyon in the late 1800s.
      A massive earthquake occurred in the Santa Catalina Mountains in 1887, sending giant boulders tumbling down the canyon walls and into the riparian valley.  Visitors to Sabino Canyon today still see these mammoth rocks littering the canyon floor as they enjoy the many miles of hiking trails found in the Canyon.
     Sabino Creek begins high up into the desert canyon at an elevation of 6000 feet and flows nearly year round to the desert floor.  With a constant supply of water comes life and the plant life is lush and the animals are many.  From giant cottonwood trees to mountain columbine; from mule deer to mountain lion – they and so many varieties of life make Sabino Canyon their home.
     Public vehicles are no long allowed into Sabino Canyon.  All visitors begin their Sabino Canyon experience at the new Visitor Center where they must pay a fee to park in the large parking lot.  Here are found gift shops, restrooms and self-guided nature trails for those novices to the Sonoran Desert Vegetation.
     Open-air shuttles take most visitors into Sabino Canyon.  Operated by Sabino Canyon Tours, these shuttle buses move over the 3.8 miles of paved roads into the canyon, crossing Sabino Creek nine times over low-water rock bridges.  Drivers narrate the story of Sabino Canyon as they travel deeper and deeper into the canyon on this 45-minute tour.
     Many visitors prefer to hike into Sabino Canyon.  The Sabino Canyon Trail, the Bear Canyon Trail, the Phoneline Trail and the Romero Pass Trail are all available and at different levels of difficulty.  Following the Bear Canyon Trail three miles to Seven Falls is the canyon’s most popular and beautiful hiking trips.
     The paved road of Sabino Canyon Trail is closed to cyclist on Wednesdays and Saturdays after 9:00 a.m.  Some of the canyon trails are open to horseback riders.
    So the many “really special places” found all around Arizona just keep showing up for those who get out and take the time to travel the highway and back-roads of our wonderful state, and few are more special than Tucson’s Sabino Canyon.

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