We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
The latest reviews. The lowest prices. The perfect place to shop for hotels.

“Nice views” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of Madera Canyon

Madera Canyon
Ranked #10 of 278 things to do in Tucson
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
fairhope
Level Contributor
12 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Nice views”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 July 2014

Nice area for hiking and birding- good escape from warmer temperatures in Tucson. Camping and cabins available.

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank camellia g
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a Review

436 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    304
    105
    21
    5
    1
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Tucson, Arizona
Level Contributor
80 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
“Wonderful Wild Place for Camping and Birding”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 July 2014

Roughly an hour's drive south of Tucson off I-19, this canyon is a beautiful place to visit. It offers camping, picnicking, birding, and hiking. There are many trails, and one of them leads to the top of Mount Baldy as far as I know, though I have never been that far. This canyon was once the only place to find the Elegant Trogon, a must-see bird on everyone's list, though nowadays, there are Trogons in several other locations in southeastern Arizona. The best place for viewing the Trogon (or hearing him, which is more likely) is about a mile up the Carrie Nation Trail, which to my mind is a moderately difficult trail mainly because of the altitude and the fact that at places it is steep. I was also able to observe the Aztec Thrush there, another even rarer bird.

There are many different venues for observing birds, and that is what I will mainly talk about, since that's what I go there to do. At one time, there were quite a few little cabins or houses up there, but they were on leased land, and the 99 year leases ran out, so the government repossessed the land and tore these all down and let the canyon revert to its natural state. I miss these places! Remaining are the few instances of private property, including three good locations for finding birds (because the people feed them). Each of these places is run as lodging for overnight visitors. I do not believe any of them offer food, so bring your own. Closest to the end of the road and the beginning of the Carrie Nation Trail is the Chuparosa Inn. You can find hummingbirds and songbirds there. Further down the canyon, you can find Madera Kubo. That is my favorite of the three. The owners maintain a number of feeders. They get hummingbirds and a wide variety of songbirds there as well. And I even met a Black Bear there, which, however, is not usually an issue. Black Bears tend to be of mild temperament, and I was in no danger even though he (or she) was only six feet away at the closest point, and I was alone. Parking is in the Amphitheater parking lot, with a 1/10 mile hike to Madera Kubo. The Santa Rita Lodge maintains feeders for hummingbirds and songbirds as well, and the light there is brighter. You must park at the parking lot for the Madera Picnic Grounds and walk uphill unless you are a guest or you are visiting the gift shop.

Also available are campgrounds on a side road to a trail leading to Bog Spring. The groundwater there is clear and sweet, for drinking (as is the water elsewhere). Other locations for birding include the trail going south from Proctor Road. It is a little confusing for many of us, because we tend to think of the top of the canyon as north, but it isn't. Various parking lots also offer opportunities. Proctor Road itself is yet another location, and where you can usually hear the Buff-collared Nightjar at night (up to three of them) during much of the year. This is another rare bird, very much sought after. Other night birds in the entire area include several species of owls, and also the Mexican Whip-poor-will, which has a very distinctive and wonderful call. I heard mine at the top of the road.

In neighboring Florida Canyon, there is what is apparently a small resident population of Rufous-capped Warblers. These are very pretty birds, and not easily seen. I have personally heard but not seen them. Getting to the place where they stay is more of a challenge than most other venues in the area. It involves a hike which at times is rather steep, with a couple of slightly treacherous stream crossings, leading to a dam. There are two ways to get above the dam. One is by climbing a rock that is about half again the height of the average adult. The rock is easy climbing as rocks go, but still more than many people can handle. The other is up a steep path with loose dirt, which I find difficult to navigate. One must go past the dam for quite a distance, normally, to observe them. And as I have said, they're not easily located, and most people have to go there several times to succeed.

The nearest restaurants are in Green Valley or along I-19, and there are some fairly good ones there.

I can't say enough about how much you can enjoy this place if you really like wild places!

Visited June 2014
Helpful?
3 Thank Pat G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Wasilla, Alaska
Level Contributor
102 reviews
60 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“Beautiful area for hiking and bird watching”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 June 2014

Madera was a beautiful getaway. It was cooler in the mountains and made for a nice hike. There are convenient parking areas, gift shops, cabins, and B&B's. Very pretty location!

Visited May 2014
Helpful?
2 Thank Lynnerdoodle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Arizona
Level Contributor
15 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Workout with Water”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 May 2014

Madera is a great hike. It is a fairly strenuous hike that is at it's best when given enough time to enjoy. From Tucson to the trailhead can be an hour drive, depending on where in Tucson you are starting from. Once there, be prepared. If it is between October and February there will most likely be snow if you go all the way to the top. However, the canyon can be just as much fun to hike in for 1/2 an hour, find a beautiful spot by the stream for a picnic and enjoy a lazy afternoon with a good pair of binoculars, a bird indentification book, and (optionally) a friend. Some of the best birding around is here, with an abundance of hummingbirds. And canyons, neing the 'river of life' in the desert will offer up many other species of plants and animals to enjoy.

Visited October 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank ORCHIDCAT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tucson Az
Level Contributor
13 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Quick cool getaway”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 May 2014

small stream through the area, many parking spots, cabins & chalets for rent, cooler than Tucson in summer. A bird watchers paradise.

Visited November 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank RobertoTucsonAz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers who viewed Madera Canyon also viewed

 

Been to Madera Canyon? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing