Visitors to Madera Canyon
Most local residents are aware of beautiful Madera Canyon right here in their own "backyard", but few appreciate the large number of out-of-state and international visitors the canyon receives. Statistics like the length of visit, where out of town visitors stay overnight, what trails were hiked, along with general comments are collected on "Comment Cards" filled out by canyon visitors at picnic areas and trail heads. Information from the cards gives the U.S. Forest Service and Friends of Madera Canyon a sense of the mix between the various user groups -- hikers, bird watchers, picnickers, photographers, artists, etc.
Volunteers from Friends of Madera Canyon collect the cards monthly and compile the statistics and suggestions. The canyon receives roughly 250,000 visitors per year, one-third of which are non-residents. (These visitors patronize Green Valley local businesses, making nature tourism a key element in our local economy!) However, during spring months when bird watching in the canyon is at its peak, non-resident guests can out-number locals by 3 to 2, if a rare bird has been sighted. Also, Easter and Mother’s Day weekends always prove very popular with picnickers.
The Chamber of Commerce regularly answers questions about Madera Canyon and gives visitors a map showing the way there. Friends of Madera Canyon volunteers staff the Visitor Station on weekends when traffic is heaviest and provide a wide variety of informational brochures for both adults and kids, including information on canyon hiking trails, geology, and birds. (If you are interested in becoming a Friends of Madera Canyon volunteer to welcome canyon visitors at the Visitor Station, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.) Volunteers also regularly answer questions about Madera Canyon fees, passes and parking. (Visit www.friendsofmaderacanyon.org to purchase an annual pass to the canyon.)
Information from the comment cards also helps focus the Forest Service's attention and resources on problem spots with trails and facility maintenance, like restrooms needing to be cleaned, illegal trash needing to be collected, or dog leash laws needing to be reinforced. Comments regarding hiking are shared with the Green Valley Hiking Club who help maintain the canyon trails. A sample of visitor comments this past year include: “Where is the waterfall?” “MaderaCanyon is truly one of America's best-kept secrets.” “There needs to be a sign for unmuffled vehicles.” “The handicapped-accessible trail is excellent.” “Well-marked trails!” “Where is drinkable water available?”
The Forest Service and Friends of Madera canyon volunteers cooperate and strive to keep the canyon an attractive and special place. If you visit, be sure to fill out a Comment Card.
Visitors studying one of the Bud Gode Interpretive Nature Trail display panels