During the Government Shutdown:
The canyon is open during the shutdown, but there is NO ranger in canyon, trash pick up or bathroom maintenance. The USFS is enforcing pass and permit requirements during the shutdown. The FoMC has been asked to suspend all canyon activities/programs. The Santa Rita Lodge is open regular hours.
If you visit the canyon:
- Pack out your trash. Take an extra bag to pick some up! Help keep the canyon clean!
- Bring your own toilet paper
- Drive & hike safely/responsibly. Snow & ice make road & trail conditions potentially hazardous; emergency
services can be hard or impossible to contact by cell phone.
- Help keep the canyon clean & safe for everyone during the shutdown. Thank you!
Madera Canyon is a north-facing valley in the Santa Rita Mountains with riparian woodland along an intermittent stream, bordered by mesquite, juniper-oak woodlands, and pine forests.
Native Peoples lived in the Santa Rita Mountains for thousands of years, known from artifacts of O’odham tribes. The oldest structure in the Canyon is believed to have been built by a sheepherder around 1880.
Home to over 250 bird species, including 15 hummingbird species, visitors from all over the world arrive in search of specialties; Elegant Trogon, Elf Owl, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, and Painted Redstart.
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With lofty mountain peaks, forested slopes, seasonal streams, and an amazing variety of plants and wildlife, Madera Canyon has become a popular recreational destination. Madera hiking trails are applauded throughout the Southwest, and vary from paved, handicap-accessible trails and gentle walking paths in the lower canyon, to steep, expert trails leading to the top of 9,453-foot Mt. Wrightson.
The third best birding destination in the United States is Southeastern Arizona, with Madera Canyon at its heart. 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, it is a "required" site for all serious birders.
White-tailed and Mule Deer, Wild Turkeys, rabbits and squirrels are regularly observed. Other animals such as Black Bear, Coati, fox, Ring-tailed Cats, Raccoons, Bobcats, and Mountain Lion are more shy and only occasionally seen. Sixteen species of bats have been recorded in the Canyon. It is unusual to spend any time in Madera Canyon without seeing signs of wildlife.
Madera Canyon and Madera Creek traverse four life zones and many habitats between the desert floor and the mountaintops, making the Santa Rita Mountains in which Madera Canyon resides, a world-famous sky island known for its unique and abundant flora and fauna - from Prickly-Pear cactus in the lower Canyon to Douglas Fir and Quaking Aspen on Mt. Wrightson.