Description - The Coronado National Forest spreads over twelve mountain ranges and 1.7 million acres of Southern Arizona and extreme southwestern New Mexico. It offers an unusual variety of vegetation types and climates.
Copyright: - US Forest Service
Saguaro, on the Coronado National Forest
- In only one hour, a visitor can drive from the hot, arid desert to the cool pines. From the rolling grasslands to the high mountain conifer forests, there is an exceptionally diverse selection of flora and fauna. The elevations of the twelve mountain ranges span from 2,400 feet up to 10,720 feet.
Located adjacent to metropolitan Tucson, the Santa Catalinas are the most heavily visited mountain range in the Coronado National Forest.
The Catalina Highway (also known as the Hitchcock Highway, Mount Lemmon Highway, and Sky Island Scenic Byway) winds nearly to the top of 9, 157 foot Mt. Lemmon. It provides paved access to trailheads, campgrounds, picnic areas and even a downhill ski area, called Mt Lemmon, the southernmost ski area in the U.S. The Santa Catalinas are home to the Pusch Ridge Wilderness and popular Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, with a visitor center and shuttle. The Santa Catalina Recreation Area, which has Rose Canyon Lake, is another popular area. The nearby Rincon Mountains receive fewer visitors and offer the Rincon Mountain Wilderness which is adjacent to Saguaro National Park.
West of Green Valley, in the Santa Rita Mountains is the Madera Canyon Recreation Area. Near Nogales sits Pena Blanca Lake, 52 acres of bass fishing and boating, or 132-acre Parker Canyon Lake, 20 miles from Sonoita. Other popular areas include the Chiricahua Mountains, north of Douglas, with Rucker Lake and the rugged Chiricahua Wilderness; 10,720 foot Mount Graham, southwest of Safford; and Riggs Flat Lake.
Recreation - Many recreation activities can be enjoyed year-round on the Coronado National Forest. The most popular activities are hiking, horseback riding, camping, picnicking, sightseeing and visiting historic areas. Fishing and boating opportunities are available in the several reservoirs, but somewhat limited in this arid land. Opportunities for the fast-growing sport of mountain biking are increasing. Surprisingly, winter sports are even available at the higher elevations during the winter months.
Climate - Climate on the Coronado varies greatly with elevation. The higher elevations generally receive much more precipitation and much cooler temperatures than the lower elevations. Summers at the high elevations on the Forest bring warm daytime temperatures with cool nights. Low elevations often experience very hot summer temperatures. Afternoon thunderstorms are common in the summer. The winter and early spring months bring snow and sometimes cold temperatures to the highest elevations but frequent clear, sunny days. Winter brings moderate temperatures to the low elevations - a great time to recreate in these snow free areas - allowing both winter and summer type activities within very short distances.
The Coronado National Forest lies in the mountains of Southern Arizona, around the communities of Tucson, Nogales, Sierra Vista, Douglas and Safford. A small portion of the Forest reaches into the extreme southwest corner of New Mexico. Access to the recreational areas is from Interstate Highways I-10 and I-19, many State highways and routes, and forest roads which lead into all areas of the Coronado National Forest.