Santa Rita Overview

Madera Canyon is the most visited portion of the Santa Ritas due to its proximity to Tucson, ease of road access, number of trails, and being well known as a birding location.  The north-facing canyon is heavily forested in oaks and juniper at the lower elevations, and pines above.  This is a good place to see the three southwestern pine species found only in this general area and south into Mexico; Apache, Chihuahua, and Southwestern White.  Apache and Southwestern White Pine were assumed to be variants of Ponderosa and Limber Pine respectively, but have pretty much gained wide acceptance as separate species (despite what Brant thinks).  Adjacent Florida Canyon is much less visited and has a different feel probably because it is much narrower and points slightly less to the west which accomodates more Douglas-Fir on its upper slopes.  Mt. Wrightson is the obvious center of attention with its bare summit and cliffed out slopes, and it's a popular destination.  I think it's a toss-up between Wrightson and Rincon Peak having the most dramatic summit views in Arizona due to their pillar-in-the-sky vertical relief, at least of those not requiring climbing.