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Day tripping: Madera Canyon

Dulce Gonzalez, 5, cools off in a running creek at Madera  Canyon.

Dulce Gonzalez, 5, cools off in a running creek at Madera Canyon.

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.


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.)

The drive

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

fs.fed.us/r3/ coronado

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.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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