|Cienega Creek Natural Preserve|
At Cienega Creek Preserve, a perennial creek channel is surrounded by mountains and rocky hills. A section of the creek within the Preserve has been designated as a “Unique Water of Arizona”. The mature cottonwood and willow trees that line the creek are a dramatic contrast to the surrounding S...
|Description: A major drainage in the Santa Rita Mountains, Madera Creek flows northward through Madera Canyon to join the Santa Cruz River. The canyon features scenic views of Mt. Wrightson and the broad Santa Cruz Valley below. “Madera” means lumber or wood in Spanish, and this canyon served as a major source of timber for the city of Tucson over a century ago. The canyon is better known today for its diverse wildlife and cool relief from the desert heat. Madera Canyon is a popular destination for wildlife watchers and nature lovers who come to see the tremendous variety of birds that live here. April and May are the best months for most species, while July through September is best for hummingbirds.|
Wildlife to Watch: With a rare combination of climate, vegetation, and elevation changes, this site has over 240 species of birds, which includes a list of 15 species of hummingbirds. The lush riparian habitat provides the perfect breeding grounds for such avian specialties as the elegant trogon, painted redstart, broad-billed and magnificent hummingbirds, and elf and whiskered screech-owls. Over 100 species of birds are known to breed in Madera Canyon. Look for Mexican jay, bridled titmouse, acorn and Arizona woodpeckers, sulphur-bellied and dusky-capped flycatcher, and various warblers, vireos, tanagers, orioles, and grosbeaks. In addition, there are frequent sightings of unique mammals and reptiles including the coatimundi, Sonoran mountain kingsnake, mountain skink, Yarrow’s spiny lizard, and Madrean alligator lizard.
Special Tips: Fee Site. The road to Madera Canyon is a narrow, curving, two-lane paved road with steep grades in places. In winter, there can be snow or patches of ice on the road in the canyon. The Friends of Madera Canyon sponsor educational programs and research into the habitats and wildlife of the area.
Other Activities: The Madera Nature Trail is accessible from various locations within the canyon. This streamside route provides an excellent introduction to the fascinating diversity of plant and animal life that mark this canyon as a true desert oasis. Portions of the lower reaches of the trail are barrier-free, and along higher reaches the gradient steepens. Beyond the amphitheater, the trail continues to the Roundup Picnic Area and offers good views of Mt. Wrightson, lower Madera Canyon, and the Santa Cruz Valley. There are several additional forest trails throughout the canyon; however, recent wildfires have resulted in the closure of some trails. Contact the Forest Service for current trail conditions and accessibility.
Ownership: U.S.D.A. Forest Service
Size: 640 acres
Closest Town: Green Valley
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: