Montosa Canyon with Carol Allen-Rasoul ⋆ Tucson Audubon Skip to content
Categories: Field Trip
Five-striped Sparrow by Peggy Steffens

Montosa Canyon with Carol Allen-Rasoul

Trip Difficulty: Moderate, distance: up to 2 miles, duration: 2.5-3 hours, trail conditions:  Most of the walk is slightly up the mountain road, hard packed dirt. There is a steep hill up at first then down to the wash and 1K miles marker. Anyone who feels they can’t hike it can drive over to the 1 K mile marker and park along roadside.

Montosa Canyon has become a favorite birding “hotspot” in SE Arizona. 196 species have been recorded there. It has wonderful views and a fascinating mix of plant life. Grasses, mesquites, hackberry shrubs, and sumacs provide plentiful food for various bird species. It’s an always busy birding spot with rarities like; Black-capped Gnatcatcher and Five-striped Sparrow. Rock and Canyon Wrens can be heard often in the spring, along with Hutton’ Vireos, thrushes and robins. Bell’s Vireo, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, and Ladder-backed Woodpecker are some of the more common species seen. Last summer we watched a Mountain Lion cross the road in from of our car.

Though the Visitors Center is closed at Fred Whipple Observatory the picnic area is open with the restrooms and water available there. There are picnic tables to enjoy and a small Nature Trail to check out.

Meet up info: De Anza Trailhead Parking Lot; From Tucson, take I-19 South to Exit 56, Canoa Ranch Road. Follow the circle and take E. Frontage Rd exit. Turn right onto Frontage Road. In 3 miles, turn left onto W. Elephant Head Road. Drive about 0.3 miles and on the left is the De Anza trailhead Parking. Please plan to arrive at parking by 7:00. If anyone wishes to carpool the last 8 miles to Fred Whipple Observatory Visitors Center, we will drive out of the parking lot, continuing up W Elephant Head Road 1.3 miles to Mt Hopkins Rd. This will take about 15-20 minutes, if we do not stop to check for sparrows along the way. Loggerhead shrikes are common also. From the Visitors Center parking lot we will head up the mountain to the 1K road marker (an eBird hotspot).

Leader: Carol Allen-Rasoul

Limited to 10 participants.

Registration for this field trip is free.

**Tucson Audubon member registration opens on April 6th at 7am. Public registration opens on April 13th at 7am**

Header Image: Five-striped Sparrow by Peggy Steffens

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7:30 am - 10:00 am

Trip Features

All Levels,
Drinking Water onsite,
Outside Tucson,
Shade Available


Montosa Canyon

Whipple Picnic Area


Carol Allen-Rasoul

Volunteer Field Trip Leader