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If you look up at the Huachuca Mountains from the city of Sierra Vista, a band of sheer cliffs bends and curves across the face of the mountain range. The relatively flat area above is called the Carr Reef. In this case, however, the word "reef" does not refer to coral and oceans. It harks back to an earlier time when it also meant a thick layer of exposed rock. While you're looking at the Reef, you may also notice a tree covered break in that impressive barrier, just south of a deep canyon. Look even closer and you should see a barely visible set of switchbacks climbing that slope. That is the Carr Canyon Road, the only road into the upper reaches of the Huachuca range.

This narrow, winding road was built at the turn of the century to open up the Carr Reef to gold and silver mining. It was reconstructed in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The mines have come and gone, but the road persists with little change. The people who travel it, however, have changed considerably. Where hardy prospectors once searched for their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, outdoor recreationists and history buffs now travel the Carr Canyon Road to enjoy splendid scenery and seek the flavor of the past.

For them, the Carr Canyon Road provides the reward of extraordinary views of Sierra Vista, the San Pedro Valley and a number of surrounding mountain ranges as it winds its way up the mountain. Since the road is so narrow, we recommend for safety that you use one of the pullouts along the road if you want to stop and enjoy the view. A forest recreation area stands in an area once occupied by the Reef Townsite. Here you'll find the Reef Townsite Loop Trail, Reef Townsite Campground and Ramsey Vista Campground. From the Reef, the Carr Peak Trail #107 and Comfort Spring Trail #109 connect to an extensive network of trails that lead throughout the Huachuca range.

Road Conditions: The first mile or so is paved; the rest is dirt and suitable for 2-wheel drive vehicles. The switchbacks are narrow and steep with no guard rails. Vehicles with trailers over 12' are not permitted.

Elevation: 7,200 Feet

Directions: From Tucson, Travel east on I-10 to AZ Hwy. 90 (exit 302). Turn south and drive 33 miles on AZ 90 through Sierra Vista to the Carr Canyon Road. Turn right and drive 7 miles up the mountain. The last 5 miles are dirt.

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Coronado National Forest

Visitor Information

Telephone Number: (520) 388-8300
The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

Review by Wildernet Copyright © 2010 all rights reserved.