Your Guide to Madera Canyon
Residents and visitors to Tucson, quickly realize just how much there is to see and do. Canyons, waterfalls, mountains, and beautiful outdoor spaces provide a plethora of choices when it comes to hiking, bird-watching, and exploring.
Madera Canyon is one of the must-see areas in Tucson. Varying elevation ranges bring a large amount of bird life to the area, as well as plants that vary from desert species to those found in areas such as the Rocky Mountains.
The History Surrounding Madera Canyon
The surrounding Santa Rita Mountains was historically a mining area, many prospectors arrived in the early 1900’s. Many of these minors found their space within the Madera Canyon. 1905 saw the Madera Canyon and Santa Rita Mountains become a large piece of the National Forest System. Wealthy businessmen came together in 1911 to lease land from the Forest Service, this land was then used to build cabins. By the time the 1920’s rolled around, the canyon had become a popular summer destination, this lead to a road and trail system being built.
One part of the permanent structure, known as the white house still stands today. These remains can be found by the Proctor Road crossing and accessed by a paved pathway.
Plants and Animals Found in the Canyon
Thanks to the higher elevation of the canyon, the cooler temperatures and winter moisture, there are many species of plants and animals that thrive in the Canyon.
- Plants – The species of plants in the area vary greatly thanks to elevations changes. The lower elevations are home to cactus, desert scrub, and desert trees. As you get higher in elevation, temperatures become cooler allowing evergreens, pines, maples, and firs, to grow and thrive. You can also find a Riparian Corridor thanks to the Madera Canyon watershed.
- Animals – With an abundance of birds and animals found in the Canyon and surrounding areas, it is hard not to experience the wildlife. Madera Canyon boasts over 15 different species of hummingbirds, and is home to other birds such as the Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher and Flame colored Tanager, in addition to over 256 different species of birds that make the canyon their home throughout the year. White tailed deer and mule deer live alongside rabbits, wild turkeys, and squirrels. Occasionally you may see some of the other residents such as black bears, ring tailed cats, mountain lions, and bobcats, although these animals tend to keep to themselves.
An Area you Must Visit
Lower Madera Creek is a beautiful area that you won’t want to miss on your visit to the area. With beautiful rock formations, small waterfalls, and plenty of opportunity to view plants and wildlife, it is worth seeking this area out.
Plan Your Trip
There is a visitor information station that is open on the weekends, this is run by the Friends of Madera Canyon and will provide you with a deeper history and background on the area. If you are coming on a weekday you will find parking lots and trails well marked. The Mt Wrightson Picnic Area offers parking, picnic areas, rest rooms, and access to area trails.
A daily entrance fee is charged and you will find a fee station in each parking area. A day pass will cost $5 and must be paid by cash or check in the correct amount.
Whether you are looking for a place to hike, or you would like to explore the bird life that the area has to offer, Madera Canyon is the perfect place to enjoy all that the Tucson outdoors has to offer.
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