Day tripping: Madera Canyonby Ryn Gargulinski on May. 22, 2009, under Family, Local, Special
Day trips are a great way to get away without the cost of, say, flying to Paris.
Southern Arizona is rife with riveting adventures and a three-day weekend is the perfect time to take one.
I thank the reader who suggested a day trip feature and hope others contribute their own ideas.
Since the paper had an awesome staff of feature writers, I scoured the archives and found an ideal trip for late May.
DAY TRIP: MADERA CANYON
With the weather heating up, it’s a perfect time for the short trip to Madera Canyon. Nestled in the Santa Rita mountain range, you’ll be protected by foliage as you hike or picnic. (You’ll still want to start relatively early to beat the heat. Temperature tends to be about 10 degrees cooler than in Tucson.)
One of the big draws for the thousands of folks who visit the canyon annually is birding. Among the canyon’s residents are the trogons, Townsend’s warblers, yellow-eyed juncos and gray flycatchers, though there are many, many more – some 200 species have been seen. For a nice, up-to-date list of recent bird spottings, visit friendsofmaderacanyon.org.
Hikers can enjoy a variety of trails, and Madera is also a popular spot for photographers.
Where to eat
Get shade from sycamores at the Madera picnic area, and from oaks across the road at Madera Trailhead Picnic Area; $5 vehicle parking.
Or, for something less rustic, try the Grill on the Green at Canoa Ranch. It’s a Bob McMahon restaurant and features fare similar to Old Pueblo Grille; (520) 393-1933. (Yes, I checked Friday. The place is still open and will be this weekend.)
About 42 miles south of Tucson. Take Interstate 19 about 25 miles south of Tucson to Exit 63. Turn left onto Continental Road and drive one mile. Turn right on White House Canyon Road and go 14 miles to the top of the canyon.
To learn more
Nogales Ranger District (Santa Rita Mountains, Madera Canyon): (520) 281-2296
Memorial Day weekend update from the Coronado National Forest
Santa Rita Mountains (Nogales Ranger District)
Open: Madera Canyon campground and picnic areas, Upper White Rock campground, Whipple picnic site, and Calabassas picnic area.
Note: All Pena Blanca Lake recreation areas remain closed due to mercury clean-up efforts.
Madera Canyon sounds grand, but remember it will probably be packed due to the holiday.
Also remember to steer clear of the Pena Blanca Lake area unless you’re a fan of mercury.