- Flat to Hilly
- Maintained Dirt or Gravel
- Suitable Vehicle:
- Passenger Car
- 52 mile loop from Sonoita
- 2-3 hours
- Drivable year round
DescriptionHistoric ranching and mining country with broad grasslands and distant buttes provides the setting for Canelo Hills Scenic Loop. The Canelo Hills Scenic Loop starts out in the small ranching community of Sonoita and winds south through a series of grassy, oak-dotted canyons along Hwy 83 to the intersection of Forest Service Road 799. This junction actually marks the beginning of this scenic drive.
At this point the drive turns west and begins climbing into the Canelo Hills. Canelo means cinnamon-colored in Spanish, so we're fairly sure that name refers to the color of these rolling hills when seen from a distance.
After topping Canelo Pass the scenery changes dramatically. The road turns, the trees open up, and an extensive rolling grassland stretches to the south into Mexico and well to the north, towards the Santa Rita Mountains and the Santa Catalinas near Tucson. In the distance, landmarks such as Indian Head Butte and Saddle Mountain slide in front of one another as you move across the vast grassy plateau.
Enjoy these views while you can because without warning the road drops into a series of oak-filled canyons cut into these southern Arizona slopes. Suddenly the views can be measured in feet instead of miles. The route continues through these canyons toward the old mining settlements along Harshaw Creek. The drive ends in the picturesque mining, ranching and tourist town of Patagonia.
Drive 21 miles east on I-10 to Hwy 83 then 17 miles south through Sonoita to Forest Service Route 799. Take FSR 799 to FSR 58. Follow FSR 58 west to FSR 49, then continue north on this road to Patagonia and back to Sonoita on Hwy 82.