Important Summer Visitor Information
With the rising temperatures of summer, the potential for dry thunderstorms, and approaching monsoon season the National Forest Service encourages visitors to the Coronado National Forest including Madera Canyou to plan their outings and use situational awareness while recreating.
Summer temperatures can rise quickly, and high temperature combined with low relative humidity can lead to potential heat-related illness for those engaging in outdoor activities. Recreationists are encouraged plan and prepare for summer outings:
- Become familiar with the area you plan to visit. Information can be obtained from visitor centers, ranger stations, websites, brochures and posted signs. It is important to know terrain, access, wildlife considerations including presence of large predators and venomous reptiles, and potential challenges of the area, such as spiny plants in the southwestern deserts.
- Research current and forecast weather conditions. Check with local weather forecasters or National Weather Service websites or recordings from the area you plan to visit. If adverse weather is forecast, change your plans.
- Plan your trip. Have an itinerary, and follow it. Avoid hiking alone. Advise others of where you are going, when you leave, and when you plan to return.
- Be prepared. Dress for current and forecast weather conditions. Wear appropriate shoes. Carry sunscreen, snacks, plenty of drinking water, and a cell phone.
- Know your limitations, use situational awareness, listen to your body. Are skills and endurance matched to the planned hike? Does weather add challenges such as heat, dryness, sudden thunderstorms or flash flooding? If adverse weather conditions are forecast on the day of a planned hike, a safer plan may be a short hike, a short loop, hiking at a higher elevation or indoor walking. Be aware of environmental conditions, and pay attention to how you feel. During extreme heat, hikers should rest, rehydrate and return to their starting point at the first signs of discomfort.
Heat waves are not uncommon in the southwestern deserts in the summer. They can be dangerous because when exposed to an extreme combination of high temperature and low relative humidity, the human body cannot cool itself properly. During excessive heat it is recommended that outdoor activity be restricted to the coolest times of the day, in the early morning or later evening hours.
The following are examples of heat-related illness.
- Heat exhaustion is the body's response to loss of water and salt from heavy sweating. Symptoms include headache; dizziness; fainting; nausea or vomiting; weakness; heavy sweating; cold, clammy skin; fast, weak pulse. If this occurs, move the victim to sit or lie down in a cooler location, shaded if possible; remove outer clothing; loosen clothing; apply cool, wet cloths to as much of the body as possible; and provide sips of water. If vomiting is present and persists, or conditions do not improve within 60 minutes, seek medical attention.
- Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat-related illness, and is a medical emergency. Symptoms include confusion; fainting; seizures, high body temperature (above 103°F); rapid, strong pulse; hot, red, dry or moist skin; possible seizures or unconsciousness. Call 9-1-1 immediately. Move the victim to a cooler environment; remove outer clothing; loosen clothing; reduce the person's body temperature with water, cold packs or ice.
Prevention is the best course of action for summertime recreation. By researching the environment and forecast conditions, planning ahead, preparing for conditions, maintaining flexibility and using situational awareness, visitors to the great outdoors can safely engage in a variety of recreational experiences during the summer months.
With lofty mountain peaks, forested slopes, seasonal streams, and an amazing variety of plants and wildlife, Madera Canyon has become a popular recreational destination. Madera's hiking trails are applauded throughout the Southwest, and vary from paved, handicap-accessible trails and gentle walking paths in the lower canyon, to steep, expert trails leading to the top of 9,453-foot Mt. Wrightson.
Southeastern Arizona, with Madera Canyon at its heart, is rated the third best birding destination in the United States. With fifteen species of hummingbirds, Elegant Trogon, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Flame-colored Tanager, 36 species of wood warblers, and over 256 species of birds documented, it is a "required" site for all serious birders.
It is unusual to spend any time in Madera Canyon without seeing signs of wildlife. White-tailed and Mule Deer, rabbits, Wild Turkeys, and squirrels are regularly observed. Other animals like Black Bear, Coati, foxes, Ring-tailed Cats, Raccoons, Bobcats, and Mountain Lion are more shy and only occasionally seen. Sixteen species of bats have been recorded in the Canyon.
Because Madera Canyon and Madera Creek traverse four life zones and many habitats between the desert floor and the mountaintops, the Santa Rita Mountains in which Madera Canyon resides, has become a world-famous sky island known for its unique and abundant flora and fauna - from Prickly-Pear cactus in the lower Canyon to Douglas Fir and Quaking Aspen on Mt. Wrightson.
Please consider joining the Friends of Madera Canyon. It will provide you access to many interesting and fulfilling volunteer opportunities, but your best reward will be knowing that you have helped preserve a special piece of our Nation's wilderness habitat.
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