Sabino Canyon is located in the northeastern region of the Sonoran Desert known as the Arizona Upland. In its entirety, the Sonoran Desert extends south throughout the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. The Upland, including Sabino Canyon, has higher elevations than much of the Sonoran Desert, and, perhaps most importantly, receives an average of 12 inches (30.5 cm) of rain annually. For a desert, this is an abundance of rain, which together with the flow of Sabino Creek yield a riot of marvelous wildlife and plant varieties, many unique the world over.
The logo of Friends of Sabino Canyon emphasizes Sabino Canyon’s three life zones — the desert dominated by the iconic saguaro cactus, the riparian corridor adjacent to Sabino Creek, and the mixed conifer forests of the Santa Catalina Mountains that crown Sabino Canyon with an elevation of 9157 feet (2791 m). Winter snowfall in the higher elevations provides a store of life-giving water for Sabino Canyon as the land begins to dry out before our dramatic summer rains.
In addition to our unique desert, the water rippling through Sabino Creek’s riparian corridor, and the spectacular mountains that make Sabino Canyon so special, are the volunteers committed to the preservation, protection, and enhancement of this natural treasure. Sabino Canyon’s special volunteers include:
Santa Catalina Volunteer Patrol (SCVP)
SCVP members are volunteer rangers who greet and orient visitors in the canyon, and patrol the trails to help visitors have safe and informed experiences in the canyon.
The Sabino Stewards organize workforces to remove invasive plant species and prevent their return. The Stewards have focused on the damaging buffelgrass and fountain grasses that choke off native vegetation and create fire hazards.
Southern Arizona Rescue Association (SARA)
Skilled members of SARA mount rescue operations to help visitors lost or stranded in the remote regions of the Catalina Mountains. SARA works in concert with local authorities to assist those in need.
Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists (SCVN)
SCVN members provide nature education to Tucson’s children. SCVN hosts bus trips from area schools; there are groups in the canyon every day from October through May. These youngsters will likely become the next generation of caregivers to Sabino Canyon.
Friends of Sabino Canyon (FOSC)
FOSC was organized in 1993 when extreme flooding washed out vehicle access and threatened to end the easy access to Sabino Canyon that we now enjoy. Since 1993, FOSC has collected in excess of a million dollars in donations to fund repairs and facilities enhancements, to support the efforts of partner organizations, and to plan for the future of our beloved Sabino Canyon.
Visitors from all over the world have contributed to Friends of Sabino Canyon and its partners to preserve, protect, and enhance Sabino Canyon. FOSC works to support the efforts of the United States Forest Service, which has management authority over development and restorations in the Santa Catalina Mountains.
The benefits provided by Sabino Canyon fulfill a sense of emotional balance for visitors in myriad ways. Some embrace a challenging hike, others seek contemplative meditation alongside the creek, and some enjoy the panorama of Sabino Canyon with a sightseeing tram ride through the canyon. Sabino Canyon is a special treasure for all of us.