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Friday, April 17, 2015

Box Canyon Rides Box Canyon, Back to the 1890's

Come March, when unseasonable heat gripped Tucson, Camp Madera Canyon became our go-to cool spot, a shady oasis of babbling brooks and birds. With Gilbert Ray temps forecasted to to top out over 80, moving 30 miles to 5200 feet of elevation subtracted 10 to 12 degrees, not to mention an agreeable change of scene. We have come to appreciate the variety of recreational choices available from Camp Madera—bird watching to hiking to summiting to mountain biking endless backroads… one of which is "Box Canyon."

While it's true that Madera can get a little busy on weekends, monday through fridays are pretty quiet. We were passed by only a few cars on our ride up Box Canyon Road, and most slowed down enough to not cloud us in dust. I always reward courteous drivers with a thumbs up "thank you" and wave, a little of Pavlov's Positive Reinforcement can go a long way in changing behavior. 

Now grab your helmet and bike gloves and join us for nice cool ride...         

We zoomed down the pavement from our campground and hung a right into Arizona State Trust Land, following a solitary road that wound through foothills and cattle country. After 5 or 6 miles we rejoined with the Box Canyon Road and "The Climb," up, up, up into grassland country. What a gorgeous (pun intended) day :).

The Box Canyon climb is initially pretty steep, a granny gear grunt, but relents after a couple of miles into something less aerobic. The reward for our effort is a tranquil, wide-angle, grassland plateau. Maroon/purple hued rock—always a plus—anchored a deep blue sky punctuated with cotton ball clouds.  

I imagined being on a wagon trail in 1890 something, pedaling along into a gentle breeze that rolled waist high grass in waves and turned the blades of wooden windmills. 

As I've alluded in other posts, the reward for gutting out a mountain bike ascent is the zoom-down ride… standing on the pedals, feathering hydraulic disc brakes with the gentlest pull of index fingers, hours up—minutes down. 

Bobbie digs out a spare tube from her seat pouch

My cell phone chimes out. It's Bobbie, she's had a flat on the rear. I turn around and grudgingly pedal to her rescue. A small inconvenience on such a beautiful cool day, to have a flat tire with a view. 


  1. How sweet that you turned around to be the saviour:) Gorgeous clouds!

  2. That's such a lovely canyon. We had a gorgeous driver over there last year and yes we did slow down when passing cyclists! Have fun!

  3. Bobbie is the queen of flats! Good thing you had a cell signal so she could call for help. How long would you have waited on her before you went back??

  4. Not having been in that area except for Tombstone as a tourista (Yuk!), I'm amazed that the Box Canyon area does not look like scorched earth desert. Looks very enjoyable. I guess it depends on the time of year. This might be as late as one would want to visit?

  5. I think anyone still in Phoenix/Tucson/Yuma type places in mid April, and without AC, is a true desert rat :)) especially in an RV. We actually stay up in Madera Canyon in January/February, too. When it snows we have the whole place to ourselves and it's magical and beautiful.

  6. Have you tried Swalbe Marathon Plus tyres? I have used them for over 8 years on all bikes and have experienced one puncture and that was due to a large piece of glass that had embedded itself in the tyre. It had worn smooth on the outside so it had been there for a while.

  7. What a beautiful ride! Thanks for taking me!


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