Outdoors article was 'poorly researched'


The article giving advice on where to go for fun in the sun in Thursday's Alternation section ("Here comes the sun" by Joshua Dalton) was one of the most poorly researched pieces your paper has run in a long time. I read the article several times to try to find a hint of first-hand knowledge about the many places mentioned, but it sounds to me like the author has never been to any of the places discussed.

First, while there is a tram in Sabino Canyon, it does NOT run "the entire length of the canyon." The tram runs about four miles up the canyon, and then you have to hoof it. Anybody who has actually been to Sabino Canyon knows that. I went to Sabino Canyon my first time about eight years ago. I was looking for the proverbial wilderness experience, but what I found instead were thousands of dumbfounded mid-western winter visitors gawking at the sight of land that wasn't flat and wasn't planted in corn, hundreds of drunk fraternity boys and high school kids who didn't know how to act in public, and thousands upon thousands of empty beer cans, candy bar wrappers, disposable diapers and broken pieces of styrofoam coolers left along the trails and in the streams. I've never been back. If you like wading through other people's trash, I recommend the Harrison Street landfill (it's free, but there's no water). And no place in southern Arizona beats Tanque Verde Falls (not even mentioned in the article) as a place to sit and watch drunk fraternity boys fall off 80-foot cliff.

Secondly, there is no Mt. Wrightstown in the Santa Ritas. There is, however, a certain Mt. Wrightson, which is most easily accessed by hiking up Madera (not Madeira) Canyon. Anybody who has ever climbed Mt. Wrightson or hiked Madera Canyon knows this. Apparently, the author did not realize the two places are connected, for the reference to "Madeira" Canyon sounds like an afterthought (. "more good hiking to be found" .) and comes several paragraphs after "Mt. Wrightstown" is mentioned as a good place to hike.

Lastly, Saguaro National Monument/Park is mentioned as a place to go for climbing and cycling. WHICH Saguaro Monument/Park does the author refer to? Does he mean Saguaro National Park WEST unit, in the Tucson Mountains, or does he mean Saguaro EAST unit, in the Rincon Mountains? I assume he means the east unit, because the west unit (much closer to the UA than the east unit) does not have a six-mile bike route. Yet, he also proclaims the park as being for people who might want to "stick to desert terrain," neglecting much of the high country of the Rincons (look at any map). It is the west unit that is mostly desert. People who are familiar with places to hike near Tucson know the difference.

Call me picky, but I think a person who wants to give travel advice should visit all the places before he writes about them. And he should also look at a map to see how to spell them.

Ray Harris

Arizona Geological Survey

Read Next Article