Morning Walks in Sabino Canyon

Guest Post by Lori Woodward Simons

One of the delights of my life is the month I spend as artist in residence at Hacienda Del Desierto B&B in Tucson each February.  During my stay, I take daily walks in either Saguaro National Park East; the entrance to the park is only three miles from the Hacienda, or else I take a half hour drive to Sabino Canyon for a pleasant morning or afternoon walk.

Outer Sabino Canyon near the Visitors’ Center with the Santa Catalina Mountains in the far ground.

One doesn’t have to trek far into the desert to take photos like the one above — the pavement is just steps away from this scene.

Walking trail from the Visitors’ Center towards the Canyon proper

This trail begins just behind the visitors’ center and runs parallel to the road (where the trams travel). The first hill with a cliff at the top, in this view, is called the Acropolis. The trails ends roughly at the base of the Acropolis, where it joins up with the road that leads into the canyon. The canyon itself offers spectacular views, marked at the base by a year-round stream — punctuated by a dozen or so stone bridges that were built during the Great Depression.

The vegetation along the stream is characterized by what is called the Riparian Zone, where giant sycamores cottonwoods, and willows grow along the well-watered banks of the stream. Just above that zone, the Sonoran Zone begins, where giant saguaros stand tall along the steep hillsides. The entire canyon is crowned with vertical cliffs – dominated by Thimble Peak at the Top of the Canyon.

The third Bridge into the Canyon.  After a winter rain, the stream flows over the tops of the bridges. One can easily wade across. However, the water is iced cold. This photograph was taking during the winter, so the trees are still bare. Thimble Peak is seen at the top of this photo behind the sycamore tree.

Sabino Canyon is at the base of the Catalina Mountains, about a half hour’s drive from the B&B. If you have a park pass for Saguaro National Park, that pass will also get you free parking at Sabino.

Sabino Sentinel 7×10 Watercolor. Private Collection.

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