Exploring Tucson’s Sabino Canyon

Beautiful desert scenery can be found in and around the city of Tucson. Perhaps the jewel is Sabino Canyon located in the Santa Catalina Mountains, a beloved spot for many residents and visitors. It showcases the best of what nature provides – mountain vistas, desert plant life and a mountain stream. A visitor center can be found here as well as a shuttle that takes people up a road into the canyon. The shuttle hadn’t been running for awhile when we visited, which was fine as it was good for us to do some walking. So we took off on one of the pathways.

Our progress wasn’t quick because we were distracted by the cacti, snow on the distant mountains, coyotes howling close by and birds, such as the Phainopepla. Can you pronounce that word? Even after practicing I still am not too sure about saying it correctly. But it is a beautiful jet black bird with a crest and red eye. They favor the berries of the desert mistletoe that grow in the palo verde, mesquite and ironwood trees.

We came to Sabino at just the right time. It had been a little cool, windy and stormy when we first got to Tucson but on this day the sun was the perfect amount of warmth, skies were clear and there was no wind. During winter and spring Sabino Creek rushes down from the mountains and this year there is a lot of water due to an abundance of rain and snow. Some of the trails through the canyon cross the creek requiring feet and perhaps more getting wet. I wanted to try out the water as it crossed one of the paths and found it to be icy cold! There is something rather precious about a creek racing through the dry desert.

The dam is a popular area at Sabino and with all the water it was overflowing. This would be a great place to wade and swim in the warmer months.

Sabino Dam
Sabino Dam

While I explored along the creek and falls, Mark took a break and pondered life. From my vantage point he appeared a sad, forlorn character perched on a rock in the desert. Oh, the life of a driver!

I followed the creek for awhile up the canyon and found beautiful scenery where rocky cliffs rose above the water, saguaro cactus clinging to the slopes.

This was my favorite area – it was serene and the perfect meeting of water, rock and desert plant life.

Taking a connector trail to a different road we made a loop for our walk back. I took this photo of Mark on top of the rocky trail looking out at the scenery.

So many beautiful views all around awaited us.

It was a wonderful afternoon in Sabino. If you ever have the chance to visit the Tucson area, put this on your must do list!

One thought on “Exploring Tucson’s Sabino Canyon”

  1. Such a beautiful area. I agree, the riving running through the desert is a beautiful scene. Such a great area I hope to explore one day! Any cactus needles or thorns from the hike?

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