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Sabino Canyon

Beautiful canyons with seasonally flowing creeks, tinajas (natural pools of water), waterfalls, and verdant life (including fireflies and tree frogs in the monsoon rainy season).

Learn from this natural abundance, and get inspired to strive to collaborate with it in a way that sustains and helps grow it. See how natural step pools form to diffuse the force of the water spilling over waterfalls. See how floodplains spread out, slow down, and infiltrate flood flows that would otherwise cause erosion and loss of water. Walk within the water flow, and look for and feel, the riffle-run-pool-glide pattern that informs the wise placement of one-rock dams, baffles, and weirs described in chapter 10 of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 2, 2nd Edition. See how natural formations inform built formations of water-harvesting strategies.

Practice your plant identification skills. Which plants are native? Which are invasive non-natives? What plants like to grow in different microclimates? How might this inform your plantings back home?

On a clear, moonless night this is also a great spot from which to view the Milky Way galaxy with the naked eye (unfortunately due to light pollution you cannot see the Milky Way from most Tucson neighborhoods), and if during the monsoon season we’ve received good rains—you’ll see fireflies.

Check out the video below of the Pleotomus nigripennis firefly larva I filmed in Sabino Canyon…

And here is a video of one of my firefly scouting trips to Pena Blanca Lake as it is similar to my Sabino scoutings…

For info on how to support fireflies see: Conserving the Jewels of the Night: Guidelines for Protecting Fireflies in the United States and Canada.

You can walk, bicycle (bicycling allowed before 9am and after 5pm Sunday-Tuesday, Thursday & Friday), or take tram (no cars allowed) up paved road through the canyon with many side trails to the creek and pools.


5700 N Sabino Canyon Rd, Tucson, AZ 85750
32°18’36.7″N 110°49’20.7″W

Hours: Always open

Cost: Day use parking fee – $8 per vehicle, or valid Interagency Passes, including the Senior, Access, or Active Duty Military passes.

No pets allowed.

Beware of flash floods in the rainy season.

natural oasis

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