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Name: Box Canyon Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: (based on three votes)
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (moderate 4WD)
Time: 3 - 5 hours Region: Central Arizona
Length: 26.5 miles (one way, 15 on dirt roads) Elevation gain/loss/change: +1326 / -1954 ft / -628 ft (one way)
Type: Through trail Avg Elevation: 2000 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: High
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: March, 2009
Short Description: One of the best 4WD trails in the area as it winds its way through a narrow, slot canyon
Geocaches:Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's just a few. Box Canyon Book Cache, Gotta Want It…, Martinez Treasure
References / Contact Information: Arizona Backcountry Adventures, pages 450 and 454; Guide to Arizona Backroads and 4-wheel Drive Trails pages 187 and 195. Expeditions West
Points of interest: Narrow, steep-walled canyon; desert scenery; numerous other fun trails nearby
Special Considerations: Should not be attempted when it's raining, dangerous flash flood conditions can exist. Lots of old mines in this area, stay away from open mine shafts and be careful of mine tailings.
How to get there: Take Oracle Road north out of Tucson. Oracle Road turns into State Highway 77. Follow Highway 77 to Oracle Junction. At Oracle Junction, turn left on Highway 79. Follow Highway 79 past the junction with Highway 287 through the town of Florence. Just beyond the outskirts of Florence, turn right on Price Road. Price Road is immediately before the railroad tracks. Click here for directions.

Trail Description

The Box Canyon trail is located in a mountainous area east of Florence. The Box Canyon trail is a scenic, moderate 4wd trail that provides access to numerous other 4wd trails ranging in difficulty from easy to extreme. The "narrows" of Box Canyon are truly outstanding. Tall, orange and red vertical cliffs rise up hundreds of feet on either side, sometimes only about ten feet apart. It's like driving through a narrow rock hallway. Wide, long vehicles can have issues with this trail.

You can see the following feature story Box Canyon Blunders for more information on our 2014 adventure here, updated photos and video.

General Information and History

The Box Canyon trail gets its name from the unique narrow steep walled canyon that it follows for approximately 1.5 miles. The narrow portion of the trail is reminiscent of a slot canyon, but it is just wide enough for a full-size four-wheel drive vehicle, which makes for fun and scenic four-wheeling. Note: although I have seen numerous full-sized trucks come through here, they are either very experienced or crazy (or both). I would not want to drive a full-sized vehicle through this.

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The Trail

After leaving pavement on Price road, the road surface is relatively well maintained dirt for a few miles until the road reaches the mouth of Box Canyon. The canyon quickly narrows and the fun begins. The road becomes rocky, but is easily traversed by any decent four-wheel drive vehicle. The canyon walls rise dramatically on each side of the road (I’d estimate 50’ – 75’ high). Generally, the road is just wide enough for a full size four-wheel drive truck, but there are a few wider spots where it is possible to allow an oncoming vehicle to pass. After about 1.5 miles, the narrow, steep-walled section of Box Canyon ends.

With in a few hundred yards from exiting the narrow canyon, an innocent-looking road exits the canyon on the right (Waypoint 009). This is a detour well worth taking as the road leads into scenic Martinez Canyon and to the well-preserved Martinez Cabins and Martinez Mill. This detour also takes you to the Coke Ovens trail.

After approximately 1 mile from the Martinez Canyon turnoff, you will see the ruins of an old adobe house rumored to be a stage depot on the left. The roof has partially collapsed, but the walls and roof are still mostly intact (near Waypoint 011). Approximately 1 mile past the adobe structure, there is a large rocky step that your vehicle must climb. It’s not that difficult if you have decent ground clearance, but there are usually loose rocks littering the step that interfere somewhat with traction.

Approximately 3 miles after the rocky step, you come to a major intersection (Waypoint 016). You can either go straight, or turn left onto Cottonwood Canyon Road. On the map I have shown the route going straight or north (the red line), which leads to US Hwy 60. This is a longer route, but you can also visit Raymert if you want. If you take the north way out, stay on the main road for another 6.5 miles until you reach Hwy 60.

2014 Update: There is now a locked gate along this route (at Waypoint 21 near the cabin). Although I have not yet take the "bypass" there may be a way around this to get back to Highway 79. See the MAP and GPS coordinates pages for more information. The following is left for historical purposes (if the gate become open): If you take Cottonwood Canyon out, take a left at Waypoint 016. After approximately 1.5 miles on Cottonwood Canyon Road, there is a small well-preserved cabin on the left. Interestingly, the cabin remains intact despite being knocked completely off of its foundation (possibly by a flash flood). Continue on Cottonwood Canyon Road until reaching Highway 79 just a few miles away from where you started. That was a great trail wasn't it?

Have fun and be safe!

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