Gardner Canyon Road

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3.2/5 (5 reviews)
Sonoita, Arizona (Pima County)
Last Updated: 08/08/2023
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Trail Information

Highlights

Cleaving a sea of grass in two, the spectacular Gardner Canyon spills out from the foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains. If you are looking for stunning scenery, shady places to picnic or camp, and the possibility of spotting wildlife or even a rarer fleck of gold in the stream beds, Gardner Canyon is for you. This is an ideal trail to try out your off-road vehicle for the first time. About an hour south of Tucson and stone's throw from quaint restaurants wineries and inn's in Sonoita, AZ, Gardner Canyon is an oak studded gem that is becoming more and more popular. Solitude is rare here due to Gardner Canyon's easy accessibility, but there are plenty of places to get away from it all back there. Open all year, Gardner Canyon plays host to a variety of wildlife, hunters, gold panners, hikers and OHV enthusiasts of all types. Get there while it's still relatively pristine.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Check out our Redington Pass (42.57 mi away) trail guide for an All-Access Preview!

Trail Reviews

3.3/5 (5)
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Official Crew
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19000
Open
Rated 3/5
Visited: 08/04/2023

We camped in campsite #5 for the annual border run. On Sunday Morning, I ran to the FR 4085, FR 732 junction. The road is still in great shape but a little rockier at Waypoint #15, crossing Cave Creek. There was no water save a mud puddle in the cave creek. The former Apache Springs ranch (Waypoint #12) is now Boulder Crest, a facility for veteran victims of PTSD. Yes, I know camping in a trailer is not TRUE overlanding, but hey, I'm old enough to have earned this. It was a delicious 59° on the morning of August 5th. However, it reached 101° in this camp area later. (110° in the valley!) The generator ran the A/C in the trailer and lowered the temp by 25 degrees inside.
Trail Review: Gardner Canyon Road - Jim Long
Trail Review: Gardner Canyon Road - Jim Long
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Open
Visited: 11/19/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

This is a wonderful graded dirt road, high clearance and 4wheel drive not necessary. Apache Spring Ranch is beautiful, luck person who owns that! Quick way back out to 83. We did the whole trail in 2WD.
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Open
Rated 3/5
Visited: 02/21/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

We ran this west to east from Waypoint 16 coming off of Fish Creek trail. This was a nice way to head back to Sonoita. Apache Spring Ranch was beautiful. This trail can easily be done in 2WD if dry (as it was today).
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Official Crew
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19000
Open
Rated 3/5
Visited: 08/03/2019

Lots of mud puddles out here but the road is in great condition. I only made it as far as FR4084 and found Cave Creek dry down there. Campsite 5, on the other hand, was pretty flooded. Great camping there though. We had a movie night and watched "King of the Hammers '16" totally off the grid.
Trail Review: Gardner Canyon Road - Jim Long
Trail Review: Gardner Canyon Road - Jim Long
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Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 03/03/2019

Nice ride up the river. Plenty of rushing water along the side of the road for the first 2 miles or so. Had to cross the water at one point that would have been a challenge if you didn’t have 4X4. Maybe not an issue later in the year. It had rained and snowed a week ago. Easy trail most of the time. Some rocky spots but nothing big. Fun day trip from Tucson.
Trail Review: Gardner Canyon Road - Kirt Minnich
Trail Review: Gardner Canyon Road - Kirt Minnich
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