I should start by saying that Debra Van Winegarden‘s blog describes this hike in much more detail, so I won’t duplicate the instructions here. Debra does a lot of adventurous hikes with her partner and photographer Thomas Holt Ward. The rest of their stuff is definitely worth a look! The following entry showcases my photos, from a different and drier time of year.

After we climbed up the side of (what is sometimes) Bridal Wreath Falls, we looked back at the valley below.

In a wetter time of year, this is the top of a waterfall.

Many people who have never seen a desert think they’re just sand dunes. The Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona and Mexico actually has a lot of vegetation: a mix of cactus and low scrub that can withstand long periods of little rain. The namesake Saguaro cactus of the National Park live at a fairly narrow range of elevation. Towards the end of this hike, we were out of that zone and there were hardly any.

Some good sized puddles, but no flowing stream in the canyon.

On this hike, our son Matt accompanied us. He’s always up for a challenge, and his youth reminds me that I’m not as good at this as I sometimes think.

Matt, looking fit

This hike is definitely not for everyone. There’s no trail to speak of, there are some challenging scrambles, and nobody else is anywhere nearby.

A lot of this kind of stuff. Oh, and almost every plant in this park is “scratchy”.

The Canyon features some tight sections where all you see are the canyon walls, and other wider vistas where you can see the mountains and the city of Tucson.

I think this is technically an arch.
One of the easier scrambles

It’s surprisingly quiet out here.

One of the moderate scrambles

Occasionally, we have to climb up out of the canyon bottom to find someplace we can actually travel.

For example, this would not be a useful way to go.
Pretty, but no.
We climbed up the left side of this. Not as bad as it looks.

As I mentioned earlier, Saguaros are much scarcer at higher elevation. Eventually we left them behind.

Above the Saguaros

Finally we reach the trail we were looking for.

And look! There’s Tucson.

The hike back was comparatively easy. Overall, a lot of fun. Not for people who are afraid of getting lost.