Madera Canyon

Just 30 miles south of Tucson, Madera Canyon feels a world apart. Located on the northwest face of the Santa Rita Mountains in the Coronado National Forest, this mesquite, juniper-oak and pine woodland offers some of the world’s best bird watching, plus ample hiking and picnicking opportunities.  

Madera Canyon boasts a mostly temperate year-round climate, though it can serve as a snowy escape during the winter months and a reprieve from Tucson’s warm summer days. The canyon’s elevation varies, beginning at 2,700 feet and climbing to almost 9,500 feet, offering more than 20-degree cooler temperatures in the higher elevations.


Explore Madera Canyon

Getting There

It’s best to access Madera Canyon via a car. Driving time will vary based on your point of origin, but from downtown Tucson you can expect the drive to take approximately 45 minutes.

The U.S. Forest Service charges an $8 day fee for parking at the five parking area fee stations in the canyon. Be sure to bring the correct amount of cash or a check because change cannot be issued. The park also accepts National Inter-agency passes such as the Golden Age Passport and Golden Eagle Passport, as well as Coronado Recreation weekly or annual passes.


Things To Do

There is plenty to do in Madera Canyon, no matter the season.

Bird Watching

More than 250 species of birds can be found in Madera Canyon, including the highly sought-after Elegant Trogon, Elf Owl, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Red-faced Warbler, Painted Redstart and more than 15 species of hummingbirds.

To learn about which bird varieties you could encounter during your visit, review the Birds of Madera Canyon checklist created by the Coronado National Forest. The list provides insight into the species that thrive within the canyon and which seasons offer the best viewing opportunities. Print out a copy at home or pick one up at the Proctor Visitor Information Station or at one of the park’s trailheads.


Hiking and Picnicking

The park is home to 14 different hiking trails, ranging from short jaunts with minor elevation gains to 10+ mile hikes with more than 4,000 feet of elevation gains. For planning purposes, you can find a complete list of hiking trails here. It’s important to pack layers for longer hikes with noteworthy ascents to account for temperature swings.

If you plan to spend the day exploring Madera Canyon, be sure to bring a picnic. There are several designated picnic areas next to the park’s parking lots, or you can select a scenic spot with a view while hiking.

Scenic Outlook, view of mountain range and lush greenery of Mt. Wrightson

Mt. Wrightson View



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