Sabino Canyon After the Flood

October 8, 2006

Everybody's favorite canyon is partially reopened after being closed to all public access since the Great Flood of July, 2006. "Partially open" means the tram only runs as far as Stop 1. The road and most trails remain closed, but visitors may hike along the stream. Violators are theoretically subject to a fine of up to $5000 and six months in jail.

On this pleasant Sunday morning every single one of the hundreds of people who visited the canyon walked past the sign and up the road -- except me and Dennis.

After three hours of boulder-hopping in the streambed, we only made it as far as the former tram stop 7.

It was still a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon as well as an opportunity to see for ourselves how our canyon is recovering from one of the worst floods in history. In the lower canyon, there is little apparent damage except for a wider-than-normal streambed and large banks of sand.

All eight of the wonderful old CCC bridges we passed were totally intact, although backfilled with sediment.

The road is quite another matter. Many sections are severely undercut or totally erased.

As we made our way upstream, we couldn't help noticing how nice it was to have the canyon to ourselves, free of the tram and its squawking loudspeakers, the picnickers with their coolers full of Bud Lite and their shrieking rugrats, and the joggers who'd rather listen to their walkmans than the sounds of nature ... What if the road were never repaired, and we just let nature take it back?

The upper canyon has been shorn of trees and the streambed has filled in so much that it's impossible to locate our old favorite pools and waterfalls.

But new pools have formed and they are just fine, thank you!

Waterfalls have cropped up in places you might not expect, like over the road.

Sabino Canyon may never be the same, but it will always be a Sonoran Desert miracle.