Garden Canyon is the major drainage coming down the east side of the Huachuca Mountains. It is mostly within the boundary of Fort Huachuca. Starting in the foothills near a set of firing ranges, the canyon climbs to the crest of the range. Along the way, a small stream runs through a thicket of sycamores, willows and other riparian species. Visitors are likely to see deer, turkeys, raptors, coyotes and numerous other birds.
Major attractions. About 5 miles up the canyon, you reach the trailhead for Sheelite Canyon, a destination for those wanting to see the Mexican Spotted Owls that live there. A little further, you reach the Garden Canyon rock art site, which are well-protected pictographs left by the Apache and other Native American groups that lived here. It is a lovely spot, where yellow Columbine flowers bloom in the summer. The road ends about 1 miles after the petroglyphs at a closed campground and access to a network of trails. The road used to go on over the range to Sunnyside, but it has been impassable since the 80s.
Lower down, there are three picnic areas maintained by the Army. These must be reserved in advance for groups, but I imagine that casual use of a table for a picnic would be OK. There are a few playground devices at the lower two. The area around the third, highest campground, is a well-known birding locale, with frequent sightings of the sought-after Elegant Trogon and the Magnificent Hummingbird (largest of the Arizona species).
Garden Canyon is a great place for a walk, picnic, or hike, to explore, bird watch or take photos. This is Army land and their rules apply. The area may be closed when the ranges are in use. It is only open during daylight hours. You must either have a military ID or get a vehicle permit at the east gate of Fort Huachuca to enter. Getting a permit requires a brief background check. Best to avoid the start of a business day if you need to get a permit.
The road is paved about half of its length, with major holes toward blacktop's end. Do not take a passenger car past the pavement if you are afraid of rough roads. The dirt section is generally in decent shape, though caution is appropriate if rain is likely.
I highly recommend this. It is a must for local residents and a pleasant way to get natural with the Huachucas for visitors. It would be a good alternate to Ramsey Canyon.
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