Pinery Canyon #42 Scenic Drive

This drive offers access to the forested floor of Pinery Canyon and the high slopes of the Chiricahuas. It provides magnificent views to the west of the basin-and-range region of southeastern Arizona. The sky islands of the Dos Cabezas, Swisshelms and Dragoons form a rugged horizon, hemming in the seas of grass of the Sulphur Springs Valley. The rocky ridgeline of fabled Cochise Stronghold bisects the Dragoons and stands out as one of the view’s most prominent features. If you come from the west, chances are you will have visited the Chiricahua National Monument on your way. When you arrive in Pinery Canyon, you’ll find the grasslands and forests more subtle, but with a beauty just as deserving of note. This broad canyon, home to a variety of habitats including a healthy riparian area, provides some excellent birdwatching and good chances for viewing for resident mammals such as Coue’s white-tailed deer, coatimundis and black bear. As the route climbs from riparian forests to oak juniper woodlands to the mixed conifers of higher slopes, it passes trailheads for Pinery-Horsefall and Ida Peak trails. Pinery Canyon Campground is located north of the road about a mile from Onion Saddle, where a short trail leads from the road to a panoramic overlook. At Onion Saddle, you have the option to drive up the mountain to Rustler Park, a lush mountain meadow with a colorful history, or to continue east to more great sightseeing in Cave Creek Canyon.

At a Glance

Operational Hours: High clearance vehicles are strongly recommended. 4WD also beneficial, if available. Western portion, from East Turkey Creek Road to Forest Boundary can be closed due to snow in the winter. Call Douglas Ranger District, 520-364-3468 for current information.
Closest Towns: Southeast of Willcox.
Operated By: Douglas Ranger District
Information Center: Douglas Ranger District  520-364-3468

General Information

Directions: From Tucson, take I-10 east for 81 miles to Willcox. Turn right (south) on AZ 186 and drive 23 miles to the turnoff to Chiricahua National Monument. Turn left (east) and drive 4 miles to Forest Road 42, then turn right (south). From Douglas, go west on US 80 two miles to US 191. Take US 191 north 35 miles to Sunizona. Take AZ 181 east, then north for approximately 28 miles (stay on the paved road). Near the Chiricahua National Monument entrance, turn right on FR 42. Continue up Pinery Canyon 12 miles to Onion Saddle. From here, you may continue down into the town of Portal, drive up FR 42D to Rustler Park, or turn around and drive back the way you entered.


Scenic Driving

Near Chiricahua National Monument. Forested canyon/riparian area. Campgrounds/Forest trails. Watchable wildlife–birds, deer. ig views of mountains and valleys. Mileage/Driving Time: 12 miles from the turnoff at Chiricahua National Monument to Onion Saddle, allow 1 hour one way. Road Conditions: Gravel, suitable for passenger vehicles and vehicles up to 41 feet in length. Portions of this road can be made impassable by snow in winter or mud in summer. Season: April through November. This road is closed during the winter months due to snow; check with the Douglas Ranger District for more road conditions.