Madera Canyon is a rural area in South Central Arizona. This is an outstanding place for watching birds and wildlife, with over 250 avian species identified so far. Many trails in the Santa Ritas can also be accessed from the picnic site.
Madera Canyon has campsites, picnic areas, and miles of hiking trails.
Madera Canyon is part of the Coronado National Forest, which costs $5 for a day permit, or $10 for a week permit.
Madera Canyon is located in the Santa Rita Mountains, which is one of the largest of the Madrean Sky Islands.
Flora and fauna
The canyon and its immediate surroundings are therefore home to wide variety of flora and fauna, ranging from cactus covered desert in the lower reaches of the canyon to aspen and fir forest on Mount Wrightson.
With fifteen species of hummingbirds, elegant trogon, sulphur-bellied flycatcher, black-capped gnatcatcher, flame-colored tanager, 36 species of wood warblers, and over 256 species of birds documented in total, Madera Canyon is rated the third best birding destination in the United States. Other animals that can be found in Madera Canyon include black bear, mountain lion, bobcats, white-tailed and mule deer, foxes, coatis, ring-tailed cats, raccoons, wild turkeys, squirrels, and rabbits. Sixteen species of bats have also been recorded in the canyon.
Take Interstate 19 50 mi (80 km) south of Tucson, leave at the Continental Road exit (Exit 63). Turn east under the highway and follow the signs to Madera Canyon.
See and do
- 1 Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory, 670 Mt Hopkins Rd, Amado (one hour due south of Tucson off I-19), ☏ . M-F 8:30AM-4:30PM. It has a Visitor and Science Center that showcases astrophysics exhibits, views of the surrounding Santa Rita Mountains and has guided tours of the MMT Observatory. Tours mid-Mar to Nov: M W F begin at 9AM and return at 3PM. $10 for adults and children aged 13+, $5 for children aged 6-12. Advance reservations are required. Tours are suspended due to COVID19 as of Dec 2021.
Some of the lodges (listed under #Sleep) have restaurants, and those are the only ones in Madera Canyon.
- 1 Chuparosa Inn Bed & Breakfast, 1300 S Madera Canyon Rd, Madera Canyon, ☏ . Check-in: 3-6PM, check-out: 11AM. Ideal for birdwatchers. $150-200/night.
- 2 Kent Springs Cabin, S Madera Canyon Rd, ☏ , toll-free: . A 6-room cabin restored by the National Forest Service and available to rent on a nightly basis. The fully-furnished and equipped cabin is nestled in juniper and oak woodland by a creek, and can accommodate up to 8 people. Reservations can be made online, or by calling the number above. $150/night.
- 3 Madera Kubo B&B, 1259 S Madera Canyon Rd, Madera, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11PM. Another good spot for birdwatchers. $95-110/night.
- 4 Santa Rita Lodge, 1218 S Madera Canyon Rd, Madera, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. This 80-yr-old lodge has fully equipped cabins and casitas. Small dogs accepted ($25); no smoking in cabins. There is a small gift shop onsite. $110-165/night.
- 5 Bog Springs Campground, ☏ . This site is managed by the Coronado National Forest, and is in Madera Canyon (listed above). No RV hookups, maximum vehicle length 22 feet, toilets and drinking water available. $10/night.