Tanque Verde Canyon is a rugged, picturesque landscape that lies just east of Tucson, Arizona. Its rock walls plunge deep, ending in a sandy bottom where large trees and vegetation sprout from their desert oasis. This area has long been a popular trail destination given its close proximity to Tucson.
This area lies in a portion of the Coronado National Forest near Redington Pass, a mere 30-minute drive from the edge of town. But get out here behind a shallow range of mountains, and you can quickly let your mind forget the sprawl of the nearby urban environment.
We headed out of the northeast corner of the metropolis and followed the winding dirt Redington Road climbing up in elevation. The area where we hit trail is known as the Redington Pass Backcountry Touring Area and has a wide array of multi-use trails to explore for everything from hikers to horses to ATVs and 4WDs. This high desert varies from craggy ravines to rolling grassy hills backed by the higher Rincon Mountains to the southeast.
Our goal for the day was to traverse 4WD trails to the destination of Chivo Falls, a towering rockface in the dead-end of one of the canyons. Our group of 10 or so mixed rigs aired down and followed the first portion of the trail to Three Feathers. This piece of carved rock hillside is a popular play area that offers a good variety of crawling challenges, going both up and down the hillside. Many of the drivers played on the multiple obstacles while we regrouped before heading onward.
We stopped later in the day in a tree-lined wash for a lunch break in the shade. The cottonwoods grow tall here given their ample water supply during the rainier seasons. Continuing onward, we arrived at the canyon where Chivo Falls resides, and a short walk in the bottom of this scenic canyon left us looking upward at the source of the fall, probably 60 feet above us. The day we ran the trail had been after a somewhat dry spell, and the fall had been reduced to a smaller trickle. However, we'd heard that after a short rain, the high-plunging water was a sight to see pouring onto the sandy bottom below. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the views, and a few explored the cliff face and the shallow cave about halfway up the wall.
Some of the rock descents...
Some of the rock descents have deep vee notches and can be off-camber. Matt George drove this modified '96 Toyota Tacoma for the day on the trail.
Being from Tucson, Scott Harmon...
Being from Tucson, Scott Harmon has spent a fair bit of time crawling in this area. His vehicle of choice is an '03 Jeep Wrangler on 33-inch Pro Comp XTerrains.
Andy Schauer tried a tippy...
Andy Schauer tried a tippy line going back up a section of Three Feathers and woke himself up quickly. A short reverse and straighter attempt had him up the rocky ledge easily.