Sabino Canyon Visitor Center
Welcome to the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area! Sabino Canyon is in the Santa Catalina Ranger District which is in the Coronado National Forest. You are about to experience a diverse and unique natural treasure. From the lowland habitats to its biologically rich streamside woodland, enjoy this walking tour.
The Visitor Center is open 7 days a week from 8:00 am until 4:30 pm, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. If the flag is raised on the flagpole, the center is open.
We invite you to step inside and enjoy special exhibits, a movie room and the PLIA Bookstore. Forest Service representatives are always available to answer any questions you may have. There are restrooms outside and vending machines if you need them before you begin the tour. To be safe in this desert environment be sure to carry plenty of water, use sun protection, wear sturdy shoes and a hat.
This tour will take you on a 2 1/2 mile walk from the Visitor Center to the Riparian Area in Lower Sabino. You will be walking on uneven terrain which makes this walk unsuitable for wheelchairs or walkers. To begin, walk east along the sidewalk to the right of the visitor center. The restrooms will be on your right and the parking lot to the right of the restrooms. When you pass through the rock pillars and benches, you will be on the Bear Canyon Trail.
Walk a short distance to the next sign.
This sign informs visitors of all the trails you can access from the Bear Canyon Trail. Sabino Canyon offers the hot dry climate in which many species of cacti thrive along with other plants that have evolved through long periods of scanty rain. The Tucson area receives an average of 12 inches of rainfall a year. Continue walking east on the wide, graveled path.
There are several common species of cacti, the first being the sentinel of the Sonoran Desert, the Saguaro, which often has many arms reaching skyward. Others you will see include the Barrel, Prickly Pear, Staghorn Cholla and Jumping or Chain Fruit Cholla. Often, cactus names reflect their shape. As you proceed along the trail, how many can you find? Remember, look but don’t touch! Cacti developed the ability to store water and have sharp spines that provide shade and discourage grazing. Continue walking east to the large saguaro containing many arms and holes on your left as shown in the following photograph.