Canelo Hills

Area Status: Open

Historic ranching and mining country with broad grasslands and distant buttes provides the setting for this medium-length loop drive. The route starts out in the little ranching community of Sonoita and winds south through a series of grassy, oak-dotted canyons along Arizona Route 83 to the intersection with Forest Road 799. This junction actually marks the beginning of this scenic drive. At this point, the drive turns west and begins climbing into the Canelo Hills. Canelo means cinnamon-colored in Spanish.

After topping Canelo Pass, as quickly as you got into the hills, you're out of them, and the scenery changes dramatically. The road turns, the trees open up, and an extensive rolling grassland stretches to the south into Mexico and well to the north, toward the Santa Rita Mountains and the Santa Catalinas near Tucson. In the distance, landmarks such as Indian Head Butte and Saddle Mountain slide in front of one another as you move across the vast grassy plateau.

Enjoy these views while you can because totally without warning the road drops into a series of oak-filled canyons cut into these southern Arizona slopes. Suddenly the views can be measured in hundreds of feet instead of scores of miles. The route then continues its way through these canyons toward the old mining settlements along Harshaw Creek and the drive ends in the picturesque mining, ranching, and tourist town of Patagonia.

This area is a very popular gravel mountain biking area. 

At a Glance

Closest Towns: Sonoita, AZ
Information Center: Sierra Vista Ranger District 520-378-0311

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Mountain Biking

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Gravel mountain biking destination. 

Road Cycling

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Dispersed Camping

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Lake and Pond Fishing

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Day Hiking

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Recreation areas with activity Picnicking:

Scenic Driving

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Boating - Motorized

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Boating - Non-Motorized

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Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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