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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Coronado National Forest, Sabino Canyon Recreation Area - Transportation Analysis and Feasibility Study

Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, part of the Coronado National Forest, is located just outside Tucson, Arizona. The recreation area is a popular retreat for local residents, schoolchildren on field trips, naturalists, and visitors from all over the world. An estimated 520,000 people visit Sabino Canyon each year by private vehicle alone. An unknown number of additional people visit on foot or bicycle from nearby residential neighborhoods. The unique riparian environment, the plants and animals, and the presence of a virtually car-less transportation infrastructure contribute to the popularity of the canyon among visitors. However, the natural resources and visitor experience are threatened by a number of issues that include devastating floods, modal conflicts, ecological impacts from historic bridges, the presence of an endangered species, parking issues, and noise and air quality impacts from the aging tram system.

A report analyzing these issues, identifying elements to address them and developing a plan consisting of a parallel trail unaffected by flooding, was developed for the recreation area in March 2014.

The plan received broad support from the U.S. Forest Service, which asked to have it more fully developed. The 2014 plan was enhanced to include renderings and visualization for the new trail and development of a brochure to explain the proposed new development to stakeholders. The enhancement also included an archaeological survey of the trail alignment. The issue of traffic, parking, and access to the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area was also addressed as part of the plan enhancement.

Working with the U.S. Forest Service and Pima County, the project team developed a new entrance to the parking lot to relieve traffic congestion on the adjacent county roads and within the recreation area parking lot and internal access infrastructure. The plan also addressed parking capacity issues, which limit recreation area use at peak times and accommodate the sometimes competing access patterns of vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians.

February 2010
Transportation Analysis and Feasibility Study (PDF)

Photo of Sabino Canyon from the road (Volpe photo)