Carr Canyon Road #368 Scenic Drive
If you look up at the Huachuca Mountains from the town of Sierra Vista, a band of sheer cliffs bends and curves across the face of the mountain range. The relatively flat area above is called the Carr Reef. In this case, however, the word “reef” doesn’t refer to coral and oceans. It harks back to an earlier time when it also meant a thick layer of exposed rock. While you’re looking at the Reef, you may also notice a tree-covered break in that impressive barrier, just south of a deep canyon. Look even closer and you should see a barely visible set of switchbacks climbing that slope. That is the Carr Canyon Road, the only road into the upper reaches of the Huachuca Range. This narrow, winding road was built at the turn of the century to open up the Carr Reef to gold and silver mining. It was reconstructed in the late 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The mines have come and gone, but the road persists with little change. The people who travel it, however, have changed considerably. Where hardy prospectors once searched for their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, outdoor recreationists and history buffs now travel the Carr Canyon Road to enjoy splendid scenery and seek the flavor of the past. For them, the Carr Canyon Road provides the reward of extraordinary views of Sierra Vista, the San Pedro Valley, and a number of surrounding mountain ranges as it winds its way up the mountain. Since the road is so narrow, we recommend for safety that you use one of the pullouts along the road if you want to stop and enjoy the view. A forest recreation area stands in an area once occupied by the mining outpost of Reef. Here, you’ll find the Reef Townsite Loop Trail and two scenic forest campgrounds. From the Reef, the Carr Peak Trail #107 and Comfort Springs Trail #109 connect to an extensive network of trails that lead throughout the Huachuca Range.
At a Glance
|Current Conditions:||High-clearance recommended beyond Clark Spring Trailhead. Road closes seasonally (approximately December 15 to March 15) for snow, flooding, or fire danger. Contact the ranger station at (520) 378-0311 for current conditions.
|Operational Hours:||Year-round, but road closes seasonally (approximately December 15 to March 15) for snow, flooding, or fire danger.|
|Restrictions:||The first mile or so is paved; the rest is dirt and rugged. High-clearance recommended beyond the Clark Spring Trailhead. The switchbacks are narrow and steep with no guard rails. Vehicles longer than 20 feet and trailers longer than 12 feet are prohibited beyond Carr Canyon Picnic Area.|
|Closest Towns:||7 miles south of Sierra Vista.|
|Operated By:||Sierra Vista Ranger District|
General InformationDirections: Tucson, travel east on I-10 to State Highway 90 (exit 302). Turn south and drive 33 miles on AZ 90 through Sierra Vista to the Carr Canyon Road. Turn right and drive 7 miles up the mountain. The last 5 miles are dirt.
Map showing recreational areas. Map Information
Campground CampingRecreation areas with activity Campground Camping:
Recreation areas with activity Campground Camping:
Group CampingRecreation areas with activity Group Camping:
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Day HikingRecreation areas with activity Day Hiking:
- Carr Canyon Perimeter Trailhead
- Carr House
- Carr Peak #107
- Clark Spring #124
- Comfort Springs #109
- Old Sawmill Spring #126 Trailhead
Recreation areas with activity Day Hiking:
Horse CampingRecreation areas with activity Horse Camping:
Recreation areas with activity Horse Camping:
PicnickingRecreation areas with activity Picnicking:
Recreation areas with activity Picnicking:
Scenic DrivingRecreation areas with activity Scenic Driving:
Panoramic views. Historic mining district. Camping and picnicking. Self-guided interpretive trail. Hiking and horseback trails.