• Magpie Adventures: Sabino Canyon

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    Trudging out to the chicken coop in thigh high snow has got me dreaming of warmer days. I always get a little restless as January draws to a close. I love winter and a fresh blanket of fluffy white but I find myself craving the warm sun on my face. Since I’ve got a while until spring, I thought I’d relive some adventures I had this fall. Maybe thinking about the sunshine will brighten things up?

    Well, a girl can wish can’t she?

    Sabino Canyon... great little day trip adventure that's perfect for families! | Gypsy Magpie

    Sabino Canyon

    Back in November, I took a trip to see my auntie in Arizona. We ate good food, laughed, and even went to a neat little hole in the wall mineral spa for a soak and massage. It was just what I needed! One day we headed out to the Coronado National Forest for some hiking in Sabino Canyon. Sabino Canyon is this pretty oasis nestled in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, just outside of Tucson. It’s easy to get to and very accessible. You can take trails and hike all day or take the tram for a 45 minute ride.

    This place was so different than what I’m used to here in Utah. Instead of aspens, evergreens, or even scrub oak, this forest is comprised of massive tree like saguaro cacti.

    A towering Saguaro cactus in Sabino Canyon. These things are SO COOL! | Gypsy Magpie

    It’s hard to tell from my cell snaps but these guys are absolutely humongous! They can grow up to 60+ feet and live to be hundreds of years old. They lined the canyon walls which had the coolest effect. It was like walking through an old western movie.

    My imagination was running wild and I loved every minute.

    Sabino Canyon, just outside of Tucson, Arizona | Gypsy Magpie

    There are several different trails you can take in the canyon.

    We didn’t have a ton of time so we road the tram up to the top and then hiked back down along the creek to the visitor center. I highly recommend taking the tram at least once because the tour guides share loads of info on how the canyon came to be, different rock formations, canyon history, uses, and stories. I tend to geek out over that kind of stuff.

    My favorite part of the canyon were the skinny old handbuilt bridges. There are 9 of them in the canyon and they are each a little different and unique. The bridges are so narrow that the tram busses have to go one at a time.

    Cool old bridge over the creek in Sabino Canyon near Tucson, Arizona | Gypsy Magpie

    Sabino Canyon in Arizona has the coolest old rock bridges! | Gypsy Magpie

    There are all these pretty little pools along the creek and I could see little kids just having a blast playing in them. Due to summer monsoons, the creek runs pretty much all year long which keeps the canyon floor lush and green.

    Maybe it’s because I’m not from the area but I found the plant life really diverse and beautiful. Isn’t it cool how you can find something beautiful in any climate anywhere in the world? I love that!

    The little pools in Sabino Canyon are a kid's dream! | Gypsy Magpie

    Sabino Canyon | Gypsy Magpie

    There are some really cool cactus types in Sabino Canyon. I don't know what but I think these barrel ones are so cool! | Gypsy Magpie

    Directions & Hours:

    Just outside of Tucson, you can find the Visitors Center of Sabino Canyon at 5700 N. Sabino Canyon, Tucson, AZ 85750 or go HERE for a map of the area. The visitor’s center is open 7 days a week from 8-4:30 but the canyon stays open so you can hike around at your convenience.


    Restrooms at the visitor’s center and in the canyon.
    Picnic areas

    Picnic Area in Sabino Canyon | Gypsy Magpie


    Parking is $5 per vehicle per day
    Tram fee is $10 for adults & $5 for kids (3-12 yrs)

    What to Bring:

    Hat or Sunglasses
    Snacks (There are vending machines at the visitor’s center if needed)

    What to Know:

    Because this canyon is near residential areas, it’s a pretty high use place. You probably won’t be the only person there, especially if you go at peak times in the fall, winter, and spring but don’t let the that deter you. It’s a fun little place! The summer is HOT so be prepared if that’s when you are visiting. Oh, and be on the lookout for some really cool animals like Bobcats, snakes, roadrunners, lizards, quail, and Gila Monsters! I tried to sneak up on a roadrunner but he took off before I could get a good pic. I’m guessing there are some super cool bugs here too if you are looking for them.

    I know I say this ALL THE TIME but please, keep to the code.
    Leave no trace, peeps, I beg you!

    End Thoughts

    Sabino Canyon was a great little adventure and the perfect day trip to end a fun weekend visit.

    The pools are beautiful, the bridges are crazy cool, and the cacti… cactus… whatever it is called, it’s a sight to behold. This little canyon oasis is perfect for families and kids would love it. I think even the desert haters out there could find something to catch their eye.

    Sabino Canyon outside Tucson, Arizona has some seriously sweet Saguaros! How cool is this big old guy?! | Gypsy Magpie

    Is it weird to say I fell in love with cactus, because I’m pretty sure I did?





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  • Ali B
    27 January 2017

    It looks beautiful! I know most people don’t say that about the desert, but I think it’s true. Those cacti are so interesting. Do you know what kind the short one with yellow on top was?
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    • Missy
      28 January 2017

      My aunt called it a barrel cactus but I’m not sure what the real name is. They were so cool looking!

  • Nigel William
    8 February 2018

    Hi, Missy! This place looks magical! Cactuses are so fun, with all of the shapes and sizes. Makes you feel like you`re in a cartoon for a moment. I was wondering, are you considering to go back to Sabino Canyon again?
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    • Missy
      15 February 2018

      If I get down to Arizona, I’d love to go again. It’s a fun place. You should check it out.